By Lucy Komisar
Nov 3, 2007
Learning of General Pervez Musharraf‘s declaration of emergency rule (martial law) in Pakistan, I can‘t help but recall the gushing introduction of the general made by Citigroup honcho and Democratic financial eminence grise Robert Rubin when the dictator, who came to power in a military coup, spoke at the Sept 25, 2006 meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Rubin urged the audience to “understand a great deal more than those in our country tend to know about Pakistan, the Muslim world, the meaning of democracy in the context of countries very different from our own.”
Rubin’s obsequious comments might be connected to the fact that, as he indicated, Musharraf had appointed a top Citigroup official to be his finance minister, giving the bank privileged entrée into the country.
A question now for Robert Rubin: Just how do you fit martial law into your expansive meaning of democracy?
Rubin is Director and Chairman of the Executive Committee of Citigroup Inc. and also Vice Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations. Here‘s the text of his introduction.
RUBIN: It is now my honor, privilege and pleasure to introduce our speaker. As you know, the custom of the Council on Foreign Relations is not to read from the speaker‘s biography”that‘s all in your material. But, as you can see by reading it, he has had a truly illustrious and distinguished career.
Let me, however, begin with one personal observation. It seems to me that all of us need to understand a great deal more than those in our country tend to know about Pakistan, the Muslim world, the meaning of democracy in the context of countries very different from our own, and the perspectives of those whose experiences and circumstances are, again, very different than ours.
In all of these respects, in my view, the recently published memoir, In the Line of Fire, by President Pervez Musharraf, is a truly remarkable, insightful and thought-provoking book. I mentioned to the president a few moments ago I not only read it, but I bought it. (Laughter.)
I don‘t know if reading this memoir will change your conclusions and judgments about the many issues it covers, but what it will surely to is provide you with perspectives, with views, with insights around a set of extraordinarily important and complex issues that are different from the views that we hear in ordinary life, and are missing in many of the discussions and opinions that we hear in the world that we live in.
The book also gives you a sense of a remarkable man and his thinking and his vision on a broad array of issues as he leads his country, a country that is critically important to all of us at a time when what happens in Pakistan is of immense importance to the global community.
One more comment. When Shaukat Aziz, my highly respected former colleague at Citigroup, was appointed first finance minister by the president‘s administration, he came to my office and he said, “What is it like to be finance minister?” And so I said, “Oh, it‘s a piece of cake.” (Laughter.)
Well, if you read this book, you will find that being finance minister, and obviously multiples more being president of Pakistan, is not only an enormously important job in terms of the well being of all of us, but it is also immensely complex because of the context in which it occurs.
So now, without further ado, it is my privilege and honor to introduce the president of the Muslim Republic of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf. Mr. President. (Applause.)