Democracy is on life support in Pakistan as phone lines are cut, stations taken off the air, arrests of activists and dissidents made and Musharraf ignores the rule of law. US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, is frantically exploring options to freeze or retract financial aid. That'll really show that upstart nuclear power, not. Benazir Bhutto, a former political refugee, returned from exile to one of the worst welcomes, suicide bombers killing 160 people lined up to see her. She is critical of this undemocratic action and plans to challenge (er, planned) Musharraf's power in the 2008 election. The other famous exile, Nawaz Sharif, was promptly arrested, humiliated and publicly deported back to his safe haven in Saudi Arabia when the former PM tried a brazen return. The US badly needs a friendly ally in a moderate Pakistan. It is quite the diplomatic embarrassment to have Musharraf cite a nineteenth century American president as part of his tortured rationale.
In the off key musical chairs of Pakistan's leaders, it is now clear coup maestro Musharraf is violating the basic rules by staying seated in the only power seat. In an Orwellian masterstroke, Musharraf commands the airwaves. The BBC and CNN have had their plugs pulled. Defense lawyers and other human rights leaders find themselves behind bars unable to render aid to protesters. An ignorant populace is an easily led undefended populace from Quetta to Lahore to Islamabad.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said at a news conference today that new parliamentary elections, which had been expected in January, could be “up to a year” away. He said up to 500 opposition activists had been arrested nationwide.
Musharraf announced the emergency decree, under which the Constitution was suspended and most of the Supreme Court was dismissed, on state-run television just after midnight. In a 45-minute speech, the president said he had declared the emergency to limit terrorist attacks and “preserve the democratic transition that I initiated eight years back.” He did not say how long the state of emergency would be maintained.
The general, dressed in civilian clothes, quoted Abraham Lincoln, citing his suspension of some rights during the American Civil War as justification for the state of emergency in Pakistan. (emphasis mine)