On Monday, media outlets reported the Olympic torch relay will be closed to the public when it reaches Islamabad on Wednesday. CNN cited Lt. Col. Baseer Haider Malik, who told the news agency that instead of the original plan of holding the relay in public streets in the Pakistani capital, “the relay will be held in front of invited guests in a stadium [Jinnah Stadium].” According to the AFP, the decision was made due to security concerns and “the weather condition.”
Much news coverage has been dedicated to the recent criticisms of China’s human rights abuses in Tibet, a controversy that has spilled over to protests of the upcoming Beijing Olympics. On Monday, the UK Telegraph cited statements by President Musharraf on the issue, made just before the aforementioned Olympic torch announcement. In an interview with the English-language China Daily, Musharraf asserted, “You cannot superimpose the human rights and democracy environment of a Western country onto other countries…That is the error that the West makes and Western media makes. This does not work at all and this must stop.” According to the AFP, Musharraf reiterated his position that Tibet was part of China and an internal affair that should be handled by Beijing.
China has long been one of Pakistan’s closest allies and is also a major source of investment, trade, and armaments. The UK Telegraph wrote today, “Pakistan has lent support to Beijing’s fight against groups involved in a simmering, low-intensity battle for independence in China’s traditionally Muslim western region of Xinjiang. Some of those militants are believed to train in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas.” Moreover, like Washington, Beijing has remained close to Musharraf, leading me to ponder the irony behind our president’s criticism of those “politicizing” the protests against the Beijing Olympics.