Sunday, November 4, 2007

Pakistan Coup E II, Quotes Honest Abe

What do you do if you are the president and the Supreme Court is in danger of nullifying your victory dance because of the narrowest of victories? In the twenty-first century, both presidents faced with this outcome declared a mandate, were snippy with their known rival and initiated extra-Constitutional privileges. Pakistan's President by self-acclimation - again. Pervez Musharraf, is taking no risks to his authority by declaring his Supreme Court on vacation. He is taking total control under a martial law scenario - again. Musharraf is going with what worked before because there is no need to reinvent the wheels of democracy when they spin against him. Musharraf suspended the Supreme Court before they could rule against him, further weakening his already tenuous hold on power resulting from a coup against Bhutto. People are taking to the streets throughout Pakistan in protest and defiance along with Jamaat-i-Islami, a Pakistani opposition party in Manga Mandi. (Photo courtesy Warrick Page)

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.

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)

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.

The book, Deception: Pakistan, the United States and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons explains exactly what is at stake for Americans and the world in this latest derailment of democracy in Pakistan by Musharraf. The brilliant inside look is authored by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark and released two weeks ago. A must read.

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