A “war on terror” is also a war on democracy? On Thursday’s NBC Nightly News, the broadcast closed with substitute anchor Lester Holt asking reporter Jim Maceda for his thoughts on the day’s top story, the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. Maceda relayed that Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf would probably be saying “I told you so,” as he had warned against Bhutto holding a rally in the park in Rawalpindi. After the death, Maceda expected that Musharraf would “continue his crackdown on political rallies, on liberties, on protests, basically on democracy, all of that in the name of heightened security and Musharraf’s war on terror.”
MRC’s Kristine Lawrence found the item and offered the transcript:
LESTER HOLT: Our top story, the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. By an attacker who shot her at close range and then blew himself up and killed at least 20 other people. Now Pakistan and the world are preparing for Mrs. Bhutto's funeral tomorrow. All of which brings us to some final thoughts on this tonight from our veteran NBC correspondent Jim Maceda who has covered Pakistan and the region for more than 20 years. He's in our London bureau tonight. Jim, what has been going through your mind as you watched the events unfold in Pakistan today?
JIM MACEDA: Well Lester, in trying to look forward now, I can't help but look back, really. It was a couple months ago in Rawalpindi you will recall that Benazir Bhutto was placed under house arrest to prevent her and her party from having a major political rally like the one today, in a popular place called Liaquat Bagh park. Well, I went with a crew and we got through waves of riot police and barricades to try to gauge reaction at the park, but we never got there. The police kept us about a half mile away. There were reports of a suicide bomber in the area, that we were prime targets, so we left. That was November 9th. Fast forward to today. Benazir Bhutto finally gets her rally in the very same park and is killed by a suicide bomber. You can almost hear Pervez Musharraf saying I told you so. So, what’s next? Most likely, Pervez Musharraf will continue his crackdown on political rallies, on liberties, on protests, basically on democracy, all of that in the name of heightened security and Musharraf’s war on terror.
Don’t think Maceda is always hostile to world leaders who have inconsistent records on democracy. Maceda is the same man who touted Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev on Christmas Day in 1991 as a historic hero: "By American presidential standards, Mikhail Gorbachev accomplished enough in his seven-year term to qualify for a bust on Mount Rushmore."