By Nawaz Sharif
The Washington Post
Saturday, November 17, 2007; Page A17
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia — My country is in flames. There is no constitution. Judges have been sacked on a whim and arrested, political leaders locked up, television stations taken off the air. Human rights activists, lawyers and other members of civil society are bearing the brunt of a crackdown by a brutal regime. Extremism has assumed enormous and grave proportions.
All of this is the doing of one man: Pervez Musharraf. He first struck at the core of democracy on Oct. 12, 1999, when he dismissed my government at gunpoint. My government was chosen by the people of Pakistan in free and fair elections. But Musharraf so feared my popularity that he banished me from the country and won’t allow me to return. After Pakistan’s Supreme Court declared this year that I have a right to return, I flew into Islamabad in September. But Musharraf brazenly refused me admittance to my own country.
On Nov. 3, Musharraf struck again at democracy. He abrogated the constitution and declared a state of emergency. For Musharraf, the constitution is nothing but a piece of paper that can be crumpled and discarded. After the Supreme Court stood up to him early this year and attempted to restore the fundamental rights of the people, he dismissed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. Stung by the successful civil society movement that led to Chaudhry’s reinstatement, Musharraf acted quickly after suspending the rule of law. The Supreme Court was considering Musharraf’s eligibility to be elected president despite being the army chief, but before the court could rule, Musharraf dismissed the entire judiciary.
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