Pakistan remains in a state of emergency. The emergency declared by Musharraf on November 3, 2007 in response to terrorism – purportedly. However it seems more like a full out effort to retain power.
The text of the emergency proclamation reads like a laundry list of enemies of the government. It includes: terrorists, extremists, the judiciary in general and the Supreme Judicial Council in particular. It cites, terrorist activity,undermining policy, and embarrassment of government officials as reasons to suspend the constitution of Pakistan.
It is interesting that the coverage of the events in Pakistan have cited the crackdown on terrorism as the motivating factor for the declared state of emergency, even while covering the protests and house arrests of those opposed to Musharraf. Are we to assume that somehow the “opposition” is connected to the terrorists?
The dissatisfaction with Musharraf has been going on for some time, and the judiciary has come out against him several times over the last year (ChannelNews Asia, The Australian, Uncommon Thought). Lawyers and judges have gone on strike and protested Musharraf’s heavy handed treatment of the judiciary, and violations of Pakistan’s Constitution.
In what appears to be a negotiated to stabilize dissatisfaction with the Musharraf government, a negotiation the U.S., Musharraf, and Bhutto, resulting in Bhutto’s return to Pakistan. Either that negotiation took to long, or Bhutto had little interest in sharing Pakistan with Musharraf. From an outsider’s perspective, I do not understand why there would be popular support for Bhutto, as massive corruption charges hang over her from her tenure as Prime Minister (Guardian).
Regardless of the status of Bhutto, Musharraf’s targets during the current state of emergency has not been extremists or terrorists. The crackdown has focused on sweeping up the “opposition” forces and their supports (and shutting down the press). This is not dissimilar from the Bush administration’s perception that those who protest the administration’s policies are threats to the safety of the United States.
My guess is that the people of Pakistan are similar to the people of the United States in their concern for the merging of “security” and challenging questionable powers in the hands of the leadership. Total power and democracy do not go well together. There are concerns that any elections in Pakistan will be rigged – a fear shared by many in the U.S. regarding our own elections.
Violent suppression of dissent seems to be on the rise in a world that seems to be teetering on the edge of numerous abysses- Pakistan, Myanmar, Georgia, Iraq. Democracy is on the wane world wide – including in the United States. We appear to be entering an era of the rule of the fist rather than the rule of reason. If history holds true, then ultimately, the rule of the fist will lose. There are more people than there are rulers and people will only accept so much repression.
Recommended resources and analysis on these issues
GulfNews: Emergency in Pakistan
By all reports, the U.S. is still backing the Musharraf government, and is maneuvering to maintain control while negotiating power sharing. If the United States is not concerned about the status and control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, the world certainly is. India, seems to be officially downplaying its concerns about the situation.