8171Pakistan Suspends Constitution, Declares Martial Law
- Nov 6, 2007Musharaf, Clashing With Pakistan?!
Nov 4, 2007
Last night, Pakistani military leader President Pervez Musharraf
imposed emergency rule on the country and deployed troops across the
capital in a bid to reassert his flagging authority against political
rivals and militants.
Musharraf issued a provisional constitutional order explaining why he
has taken such a move. The following are two main reasons for his move:
There had been a visible ascendancy in the activities of extremists
and incidents of terrorist attacks.
Some members of the judiciary are working at cross purposes with the
executive and legislature in the fight against terrorism and extremism.
On the other hand, Pakistan's top court Saturday, November 3, ordered
the suspension of emergency rule. In response, Musharraf was quick to
appoint a new chief justice.
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Bloodshed rises in Pakistan as U.S. pushes regime to attack Islamists
By Deirdre Griswold
Nov 2, 2007
More and more, the Pakistani people are being drawn into U.S.
imperialism's bloody wars and occupations against their will.
The last week in October, the Islamabad government of President Gen.
Pervez Musharraf, the military dictator who is frequently described in
the press as "a key ally in the U.S. war on terror," sent 2,500 troops
into the Swat Valley near Pakistan's northwest frontier with
Afghanistan. The area is said to be a stronghold of Pakistani
religious leaders who sympathize with the fight of the Taliban in
Afghanistan against occupation by the U.S. and its allies.
Dozens of soldiers, civilians and religious fighters called
"militants" in the Western media were killed in several violent
clashes. One news account said Pakistani forces, backed by
helicopters, had traded fire with militants who were "using
rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and other weapons." (AP, Oct. 27)
A later account told of thousands of civilians fleeing from the area,
where, on Oct. 28, "Security forces backed by helicopter gunships
pounded militant hideouts in the mountains." (AP, Oct. 29)
Just one week earlier, the Pentagon had handed over 30 helicopters to
the Musharraf regime, the latest installment in more than $6 billion
worth of "security-related assistance" given to the Pakistan military
by the U.S. government since 2001.
Bush had sent his national intelligence director, the notorious John
Negroponte, to Pakistan in January to pressure Musharraf to go on the
offensive against the militant Islamic opposition. In July, government
forces stormed the Lal Masjid mosque right in central Islamabad,
killing hundreds of Islamic teachers and students opposed to Musharraf
and his alliance with Washington.
Yet far from being intimidated, the influence of the Islamic militants
has been growing, especially in the northwest, where the population is
very aware of the brutal war being carried out against their neighbors
in Afghanistan and can sometimes hear the roar of U.S. jet planes as
they unload their deadly bombs.
Can cynical deal survive a massacre?
At the same time, Washington has been trying to popularize the image
of the Musharraf regime without losing the services of Musharraf, who
heads the large and nuclear-armed Pakistani army and first took power
in 1999 in a coup. It has been brokering a power-sharing deal whereby
Musharraf would accept a coalition with Benazir Bhutto, the
multi-millionaire head of the Pakistan People's Party, who recently
returned from exile.
"The administration concluded over the summer that a power-sharing
deal with Ms. Bhutto might be the only way that General Musharraf
could keep from being toppled," wrote the New York Times bluntly on
As part of the deal, Musharraf promised Bhutto, a former prime
minister, that corruption charges against her and her family would be
dropped on her return. However, as the newly arrived politician moved
in a car caravan through the streets of Karachi on Oct. 18, where some
150,000 people had assembled to greet her, powerful bomb blasts ripped
through the crowd. Bhutto barely escaped; more than 150 people,
including 50 from her security detail, were killed and more than 500
others severely wounded in a scene of utter carnage.
Almost all Western news accounts blame the bombings on Al Qaeda, but
that does not seem to be the view of most Pakistanis. While "few had a
clear picture of what caused the explosions," wrote a reporter who
interviewed survivors, "overwhelmingly, they believed that the
government was to blame for the attacks, and few blamed Al Qaeda or
other Islamist militant groups." (New York Times, Oct. 20)
Bhutto herself, while she did not directly blame the regime, said that
"very powerful figures" were behind the assassination attempt and that
the government had not given her proper security. (BBC News, Oct. 23)
Thus, Washington's efforts to bolster a pro-U.S. regime in Pakistan by
bringing Bhutto backa scheme in which Negroponte, U.S. Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay
Khalilzad all personally participatedmay already have boomeranged.
While the corruption of Bhutto and her husband is legendary, and they
are accused of salting away hundreds of million of dollars in Swiss
banks, her return unleashed a wave of popular anger at the regime,
which was only heightened by the assassination attempt that killed so
Facing quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush administration is
desperate to stabilize Musharraf politically while forcing him to use
his military more vigorously against the rising anti-U.S. movement.
But many in the imperialist foreign policy establishment think it
won't work. "'This backroom deal I think is going to explode in our
face,' said Bruce Riedel, who advised three presidents on South Asian
issues and is now at the Brookings Institution. `Ms. Bhutto and Mr.
Musharraf detest each other, and the concept that they can somehow
work collaboratively is a real stretch.'" (New York Times, Oct. 20)
With the country seething, the army attacking its own people in the
northwest territories, and many of Bhutto's followers demanding an end
to the Musharraf dictatorship, the Pakistan Supreme Court has yet to
validate the general's "re-election" as president, which happened on
Oct. 6. The election was able to proceed after Bhutto agreed she would
not join in a boycott called by other parties in the bourgeois
democratic opposition. On Oct. 29 the government's top lawyer,
Attorney General Malik Qayyum, told the Supreme Court that Musharraf
would be president, no matter how the court ruled, raising speculation
that the general "might impose martial law if the judgment goes
against him." (The Hindu, Oct. 29)
It is yet another sign of the instability and unpopularity of a regime
central to imperialism's goal of domination over the oil-rich Middle
East and Central Asia.
Pakistan Imposes Emergency Rule in fear of Khilafah
Authorities rounded up opposition leaders Sunday after Dictator
Pervez Musharraf suspended Pakistan's constitution, replaced the
chief judge and blacked out independent TV outlets, saying the
country must fight in the War on Islam.
Dictator Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup but had given a
conditional pledge to step down as military chief and become a
civilian president this year, declared a state of emergency Saturday
night, dashing recent hopes of a smooth transition to democracy for
the powerful nation.
Across Pakistan, police arrested political activists and lawyers at
the forefront of a campaign against military rule.
Among those detained were Javed Hashmi, the acting president of the
party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; Asma Jehangir, chairman
of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan; and Hamid
Gul, former chief of the country's main intelligence agency and a
staunch critic of Dictator Musharraf's support of the U.S.-led war on
"It's a big blow to the country," said Gul, as a dozen officers took
him away in a police van near the parliament in the capital,
Islamabad. Hashmi said the army general would not "not survive the
Up to 40 activists were hauled in when police raided the office of
the Human Right Commission of Pakistan, including its director, I.A.
Rahman, a harsh Musharraf critic, said Mohammed Yousaf, a guard at
the office in the eastern city of Lahore.
FEAR OF ISLAMIC REVOLUTION
Dictator Musharraf's leadership is threatened by an Islamic
Mujahideen movement that has spread from border regions to the
capital, the reemergence of political rival and former prime minister
Benazir Bhutto and an increasingly defiant Supreme Court, which was
expected to rule soon on the validity of his recent presidential
election win. Hearings scheduled for next week were postponed, with
no new date set.
Attorney General Malik Mohammed Qayyum denied claims by Bhutto and
commentators in the domestic media, that Musharraf had imposed
martial law direct rule by the army under the guise of a state of
"Nobody cares about us or about what we think," said Mohammad Amin,
31, wearing a black prayer cap as he took a break from his work with
fellow laborers to sip sweet tea.
WESTERN COOPERATION WITH THE DICTATOR
Western allies of the brutal Dictator Musharraf had urged not to take
authoritarian measures despite recent his country's recent turmoil.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for a return to
democracy in Pakistan, as the American embassy urged citizens in the
country to remain at home and defer all nonessential travel. But
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the emergency declaration "does
not impact our military support of Pakistan" or its efforts in the
war on terror.
Bhutto, who had travelled abroad again in the wake of an Oct. 18
suicide attack that narrowly missed her but killed 145 others,
immediately flew back to the southern city of Karachi, and declared
that the emergency was the "blackest day" in Pakistan's history.
"But I believe the problem is dictatorship, I don't believe the
solution is dictatorship," she told Sky News television in a report
available via satellite.
MUSHARRAF FEARS ISLAMIC MOVEMEMNTS
In his televised address late Saturday, Musharraf, looking somber and
composed, said Pakistan was at a "dangerous" juncture, its government
threatened by the Islamic movement who are working to liberate
Pakistan from the corrupt dictator.
The military dictator, wearing a black button-down tunic rather than
his army fatigues, also blamed the Supreme Court for tying the hands
of the government by postponing the validation of his recent election
win. The court was expected to rule soon on opponents' claims that
Musharraf's Oct. 6 victory was unconstitutional because he contested
the vote while army chief.
Musharraf on Saturday replaced the chief justice, Iftikhar Mohammed
Chaudhry, who had emerged as the main check on the president. His
name was erased from the court's Web site.
Musharraf's emergency order suspended the 1973 constitution. Seven of
the 17 Supreme Court judges immediately rejected the order, and only
five agreed to take the oath of office under the new provisional
Authorities also arrested Aitzaz Ahsan, a lawyer who represented
Chaudhry. Opposition party leader, Imran Khan, was put under house
MUJAHIDEEN TAKE CONTROL OF KEY AREAS
The emergency comes as Musharraf's security forces struggle to
contain pro-Taliban and al-Qaida-linked Mujahideen who have gained
control of large tracts of the volatile northwest, near Afghanistan.
Violence has reached major cities with deadly suicide attacks in
Islamabad and Karachi underscoring the failure of Musharraf's
administration to combat the threat despite huge financial support
from the United States.
Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani general and respected analyst, said
Musharraf's emergency was a pre-emptive move in case the court ruled
against him, and that it could "further aggravate terrorism and
extremism in the country."
Rick Barton, a Pakistan expert at the Washington-based Center for
International and Strategic Studies, said Musharraf's move would
likely only postpone his political demise. "He's obviously not very
popular, and it's not going to increase his popularity."
Musharraf issued two ordinances toughening media laws, including a
ban on live broadcasts of "incidents of violence and conflict." Also,
TV operators who "ridicule" the president, armed forces, or
executive, legislative or judicial organs of the state can be
punished with three years in jail.
Pakistani police use emergency powers to detain protesters
Declan Walsh in Islamabad and James Sturcke
Monday November 5, 2007
Pakistani police launched a harsh crackdown today on the first street
protests since General Pervez Musharraf assumed sweeping emergency
powers last Saturday.
Police fired teargas and baton-charged a crowd of 2,000 lawyers at the
largest protest in the southern city of Lahore.
Up to 1,800 people have been detained nationwide since the weekend, an
interior ministry official said.
The prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, responded to concern from overseas -
including Britain - and insisted that elections scheduled for January
would take place as planned.
"Our thinking about the election is that it will be held according to
schedule," Mr Aziz told a news conference. The country's national
assembly will be dissolved on November 15, and elections held within
60 days, the attorney general said, according to Reuters.
The US called for Gen Musharraf to cut his ties to the military and
reinstate the constitution.
At a news conference, the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice
urged Gen Musharraf to follow through on past promises to "take off
"I want to be very clear. We believe that the best path for Pakistan
is to quickly return to a constitutional path and then to hold
elections," she said. "The more quickly and the more urgently that the
Pakistani leadership and President Musharraf act on their stated
desire to get back to a constitutional path, it will be for the better
The lawyers in Lahore tried to repel police with stones and tree
branches, as at least 250 were detained from the protest alone, some
bundled into vans bleeding from the head.
Clashes between police and lawyers were also reported in Karachi,
Peshawar, Multan and Rawalpindi, where police sealed court buildings.
The British government today called for reassurance that elections
planned for January would go ahead. The United Nations became the
latest organisation to condemn the imposition of martial law and call
for the release of those detained.
"A state of emergency should only be used to deal with a dire security
threat to the nation, not to undermine the integrity and independence
of the judiciary," Louise Arbour, the UN's chief rights official, said
in a statement. Asma Jahangir, a UN-appointed expert on religious
freedom and chairman of the independent human rights commission of
Pakistan, is among those detained.
A spokesman for the opposition leader, Ms Benazir Bhutto, said so far
67 members of her party had been arrested.
Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the influential supreme court bar
association, remains in Adiala Jail near Rawalpindi; another lawyer
called the Guardian from a plane about to leave for Kabul, saying she
was fleeing possible arrest.
The former chief justice Muhammad Iftikhar Chaudhry, who led massive
protests against Gen Musharraf earlier this year and was sacked on
Saturday, remained under house arrest in Islamabad.
Since Saturday, Gen Musharraf has banned public meetings and suspended
fundamental rights, closed down television broadcasts and rounded up
hundreds of opposition supporters, lawyers and human rights activists.
Independent TV news networks remained off the air, although some could
be viewed by satellite or the internet. Police raided and sealed a
printing press in Karachi belonging to Pakistan's largest media group,
blocking publication of its Urdu-language evening newspaper, Awam
(People), the Jang Group editor, Mahmood Sham, said.
Troops manned sandbagged positions around government buildings in the
capital. Although some businesses opened, streets were generally quiet.
Rumours of a counter-coup against Gen Musharraf circulated widely
among journalists and lawyers. "It is a joke of the highest order,"
Gen Musharraf told Reuters from the presidency building in Islamabad,
where he met over 80 foreign diplomats to explain his decision. He
said he was due to play tennis later in the day.
Opponents admitted the rumours were probably a product of the
restricted media environment, or just wishful thinking. "The nation is
in a state of shock. There is no source of information, that's why the
rumours are rife," said lawyer MS Mughal.
"He seems to be pretty much in control at the moment," said one
diplomat, who said his country's main concern was to find out how long
the emergency would last. Concerns about growing instability caused
the main Karachi stock exchange to fall over 4%.
Although Gen Musharraf says the emergency is needed to fight growing
Islamist militancy including a spate of suicide bombings, a senior
Musharraf aide told the Guardian the crisis was actually triggered by
fears the supreme court was about to deem his re-election illegal.
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim
League-Q party, said a friendly supreme court judge leaked the
information to the government last Wednesday.
"He said the verdict may be unanimous, so we had no choice," said Mr
Hussain. "The debate was whether to impose emergency before or after
[the court ruling]."
Mr Aziz, who had previously assured the public that Gen Musharraf
would "always respect the constitution", admitted on Sunday that the
government had initially detained between 400 and 500 people as a
"preventative measure". An editorial in Dawn newspaper said that
future denials from Mr Aziz or Gen Musharraf would be a "waste of
Britain and the US have promised to review their assistance to
Pakistan in the light of the unfolding crisis. The US has given $11bn
(£5.2bn) in mostly military aid since 2001.
Britain is a much smaller contributor. Western diplomats in Islamabad
refused to say what leverage they might use against Gen Musharraf at
this stage. But Gen Musharraf remains a key ally to the US and Britain
in the fight against al-Qaida militancy. Neither will want to
jeopardise future security cooperation.
"Some of the aid that goes to Pakistan is directly related to the
counter-terrorism mission," US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice
said during a trip the Middle East. "We just have to review the
The next move of opposition leader Ms Bhutto will be crucial. She is
due to arrive in Islamabad later today, where she is expected to meet
with the national security adviser, Tariq Aziz.
Ms Bhutto's movements have become secretive since an assassination
attempt after her return from exile on October 18.
Dozens wounded in anti-emergency protests in Pakistan
Nov 5, 2007
A policeman on guard in a police van in front of the Civil court as
lawyers boycott courts and stage rallies countrywide to protest
against the Emergency rule in Hyderabad, Pakistan, 05 November 2007.
Dozens of people were injured on Monday when riot police used tear gas
and baton-charged hundreds of lawyers who were holding protest rallies
in several Pakistani cities against the weekend proclamation of a
state of emergency by President Pervez Musharraf. EPA/NADEEM KHAWER
Islamabad - Dozens of people were injured on Monday when riot police
used tear gas and baton-charged hundreds of lawyers who were holding
protest rallies in several Pakistani cities against the weekend
proclamation of a state of emergency by President Pervez Musharraf.
'The police harshly beat us up with the batons and more than a dozen
lawyers were wounded,' lawyer Muddasar Ali told Deutsche
Presse-Agentur dpa from the high court building in the Punjab
provincial capital Lahore, where more than 2,000 lawyers had gathered.
The clashes erupted when the lawyers chanted slogans such as 'go
Musharraf go' and 'Military dictatorship unacceptable,' and tried to
hold a rally on Mall Road, the main avenue in the city centre. But
police fired several rounds of tear gas, leaving dozens of lawyers
The witnesses said they saw many protesters being pushed into police
vans and whisked away. City police chief Aftab Cheema confirmed the
arrests without giving a number.
'We arrested them because they were violating a ban on public
gathering of five or more than five people,' he said.
The clashes also occurred in the southern port city of Karachi, where
dozens of lawyers were arrested when they tried to enter into the high
court building, surrounded by hundreds of lawyers.
'Police beat us ruthlessly when we came to the Singh High Court
building in the morning and arrested a few dozen of our colleagues,'
lawyer Akhtar Hussain said.
The legal fraternity boycotted the court proceedings across the
country and similar rallies were also held in Rawalpindi and the
capital city, Islamabad.
The demonstrations came a day after law enforcement agencies detained
hundreds of opposition workers, rights activists and lawyers
throughout the country for criticizing Musharraf's emergency move.
Musharraf, who took over in a bloodless military coup in 1999,
partially suspended the country's constitution Saturday, curtailed
civil rights and replaced top members of the judiciary who he saw as a
threat to his rule.
But the judiciary remained defiant as the overwhelming majority of the
Supreme Court and four high court judges did not take oath under a
Provisional Constitutional Order that Musharraf promulgated in his
capacity as army chief to replace the national constitution.
Fourteen judges in Islamabad were placed under house arrest on Monday
as they had announced their intention to attend their offices in the
Supreme Court building, which was sealed off by more than 2,000
All the linking roads around neighbouring president's office and
parliament building were also cordoned off by security personnel who
set up barbed wire barriers.
The country's major stock index, meanwhile, plunged in the afternoon
amid rumours that Musharraf had been placed under house arrest in a
military rebellion against him.
Investors at the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) dumped shares, pulling
the KSE-100 index down by more than 650 points or 4.7 per cent.
The rumours about the mutiny were promptly denied by the military.
'These are just baseless rumours. The situation is normal and
President Musharraf is functioning as usual.' the military's chief
spokesman Major Genernal Waheed Arshad told dpa.
The international community has reacted with sharp criticism of
Musharraf's declaration of emergency and expressed concern over
political turmoil in Pakistan, which is scheduled to hold national
elections in January.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Sunday for a 'prompt
return to a constitutional course' and for all parties to show restraint.
'The United States does not support and communicated to the Pakistani
leadership prior to this action that it would not support extra
constitutional means,' Rice said while speaking ahead of a meeting
with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Jerusalem.
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