Archive for the ‘emergency rule’ Category

Commentary: Momentous day for Pakistan, Bhutto’s legacy

March 18, 2008
By Asif Ali Zardari

Asif Ali Zardari is the co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party and widower of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in Pakistan in December.

In this handout photo released by Pakistan Parliament House, ...
In this handout photo released by Pakistan Parliament House, Asif Ali Zardari, left, widower of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and co-chairman of Pakistan People’s Party waves as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif looks on during the National assembly’s first session at Parliament House in Islamabad, Pakistan on Monday, March 17, 2008. Pakistan inaugurated a new parliament on Monday dominated by opponents of President Pervez Musharraf who have vowed to crimp his powers and review his U.S.-backed policies against al-Qaida and the Taliban.
(AP Photo/Pakistan Parliament House, HO)

(CNN) — Monday was a momentous day for the people of Pakistan, but a bittersweet day for me.

Sitting in the gallery watching a democratically elected National Assembly headed by the Pakistan Peoples Party and its coalition partners, I thought of the terrible price paid for this moment of liberty. I thought of the many jailed, beaten, tortured, and exiled. I thought of all of those who had their reputations assaulted. I thought of the undermining and dismantling of Pakistani civil society. I thought of the attacks on the independence and autonomy of the judicial system. I thought of the censorship of the press, emergency rule and martial law.

But of course more than anything else, I thought of my beloved wife, Shaheed Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto, who sacrificed her life for her beliefs and her country. This was the day of her triumph, the vindication of her long battle for the restoration of democracy. For my country, this was a day of celebration. But for me and our children, this day was also a day of tears. Democracy had come to Pakistan, but at a terrible, terrible price.

Last week, the two largest political parties in Pakistan agreed to form a coalition government that would restore democracy and bring stability to our country. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which I lead after the assassination of my wife, has joined the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, to form a broad-based, democratic, liberal government in Pakistan — an umbrella of reconciliation and consensus. The new prime minister, from the PPP, will be announced within the next few days.

In agreeing to form a coalition government Mr. Sharif and I have responded to the mandate given by the people of Pakistan in the February 18 election. Pakistan’s people no longer want to live under the thumb of a dictator. They want an end to terrorism and violence and wish to join the rest of the modern world in the pursuit of peace and prosperity. They want to restore the supremacy of the people’s house, the National Assembly, and free it from the sword of Damocles of a marginal presidency with inflated, unconstitutional authority.

Pakistan’s political leaders and people have suffered from the politics of personal destruction; we have been battered by dictatorship; we have seen civil society taken apart and a free and independent judiciary destroyed. We have seen international assistance, secured in the name of fighting terrorism, diverted towards making Pakistan’s affluent few richer. We have seen progress on education, health and women’s rights stopped and reversed. But now, with renewed confidence in democratic parties like the PPP and PML-N, it is time for the rebirth of a democratic, vital and progressive Pakistan.

Some fear a coalition government would lack the necessary strength to tackle Pakistan’s myriad problems. But cooperation between the country’s biggest political parties, representing an overwhelming majority of the people, would bring greater stability than one-man rule. Together, the PPP and PML-N will be able to build a strong civil society. That would go a long way to erasing the scars of militarism and militancy. We will focus on providing education and employment at the grassroots levels so the country’s youth can play an integral role in building a strong national economy.

Under the rule of Pervez Musharraf, extremists were allowed to thrive along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The key to improving security there is not to make citizens in Pakistan’s tribal areas feel like second-rate citizens kept under lock and key, caught between the threats of violence from militants and the military. Rather, we must let all of our citizens, including those in the Federally Administered Tribal Area, know they are part participants in the growth of Pakistan’s economy and civil society.

Fostering a better level of trust and understanding among the people in the border areas, and delivering on their key needs, is essential to enhancing security in the FATA and throughout Pakistan. While immediate steps must be taken to hunt down identified terrorists, the long-term solution to extremism lies in respecting the will of the people and in providing them with a means of livelihood at every level — food, clothing, shelter, jobs and education. By talking to and respecting our people, we will be able to isolate the extremists and terrorists.

Those of us who are now in a position of leadership seek, in my wife’s words, “a tomorrow better than any of the yesterdays we have ever known.” We see a Pakistan where all children, regardless of their socio-economic standing or their gender, are guaranteed compulsory and quality primary and secondary education. We see a Pakistani educational system of quality teachers, who receive decent salaries, and teach in modern classrooms with state-of-the-art computers and technology. We see a Pakistan where political madrassas that teach hatred are closed, and educational institutions that focus on science and technology flourish.

The PPP has a vision to build a nation that is one of the great capital markets of the world; a revitalized nation that will generate international investment. We look forward to the complete electrification of all of our villages, the purification of our nation’s drinking water, the privatization of the public sector, the expansion of the energy sector, the development of our export industries, the modernization of our ports and the rebuilding our national infrastructure. All of these elements are essential to a Pakistan where a democratically elected government, with the mandate of the people, confronts and marginalizes the forces of extremism and terrorism wherever they may exist in our nation. In other words, I see the Pakistan for which my wife lived and died.

Pakistan’s democracy has not evolved over the past 60 years because the generals believed they should intervene in politics and run the country. The army’s misperception of itself as the country’s only viable institution, and its deep-rooted suspicion of the civilian political process, has prevented democracy from flourishing. The PPP and its allies will reverse the current regime’s suppression of civil society and free speech. We will establish a Press Complaints Commission similar to that of the United Kingdom and stand up for the democratic rights of citizens to freely establish television and radio stations, subject to the basic legal framework.

While the tasks ahead are not easy, the Pakistan Peoples Party plans to work in good faith with its fellow democratic parties and our coalition allies to achieve our goal of building a new, progressive Pakistan. Everything will not come at once. The reformation of Pakistan — politically, economically and socially — will be a long and complex process. But we are determined to begin and we are determined to succeed.

We did not come this far, we did not sacrifice this much, to fail.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

Musharraf makes stability a priority

March 10, 2008

By Thomas Houlahan
The Washington Times
March 10, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A relaxed and confident President Pervez Musharraf said in an interview that political stability is his top priority and that a war between the presidency and the newly elected parliament would be catastrophic.
“I’m looking forward to working with this government for the full five years,” Mr. Musharraf said. “Even my harshest critics have agreed that the recent elections were free and fair. Now, I want to build on that.”
The interview was conducted Wednesday afternoon in a guest lodge adjacent to Mr. Musharraf’s residence in the Islamabad suburb of Rawalpindi.

In this picture released by Pakistan's Press Information Department, ...
In this picture released by Pakistan’s Press Information Department, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, right, meets Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on Tuesday, March 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Press Information Department, HO)

The atmosphere was informal, at times interrupted….

Read the rest:
 http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20080310/
FOREIGN/186830544/1001

Pakistan: As Emergency Ends, Musharraf Strengthens Hold On Power

December 17, 2007

By Mark Sappenfield
The Christian Science Monitor
December 16, 2007

When Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf declared emergency rule six weeks ago, it was a decision fraught with peril – the opposition was threatening mass protests, and he seemed in imminent danger of being overthrown.

Pervez Musharraf
پرويز مشرف
Pervez Musharraf

In lifting the emergency Saturday, however, Mr. Musharraf can be confident that his gambit has worked as well as he could have hoped. In six weeks, he has packed the courts with loyal judges, amended the Constitution to protect him from legal challenges, and eviscerated the media’s powers. And his political opposition is weaker and more fractured than before.

With parliamentary elections still ahead in January, he has not yet won. But he has pulled back from the brink of disaster, and significantly upped his chances of survival.

“He has mastered the art of how to navigate through a critical situation,” say Tarik Jan, a political analyst at the Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad.

Read the rest:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1217/p04s01-wosc.html

Musharraf frees foes, seeks Saudi help

November 21, 2007

By PAUL HAVEN, Associated Press Writer

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – President Gen. Pervez Musharraf freed thousands of opponents from jails Tuesday in a sign he is rolling back a wave of repression under emergency rule and flew to Saudi Arabia to talk about the future of an exiled rival, Nawaz Sharif.

Saudi officials said there were efforts to arrange a meeting between Musharraf and Sharif, who was ousted as prime minister by the general’s 1999 coup. However, a Pakistani official said Musharraf’s goal was to prevent Sharif from returning before parliamentary elections Jan. 8.

Back home, the political cauldron continued to boil, with dozens of journalists detained for several hours after clashing with police during a protest and newly freed opposition lawyers vowing to keep up their agitation.

Ewad the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071120/ap_on_re_as/
pakistan;_ylt=AjqnM9wSDN3qSS4Gkdjt1KOs0NUE

Pakistan leader to get U.S. prod

November 17, 2007

By Stephen Graham
November 17, 2007 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf faces a stern warning from a top American diplomat today: End emergency rule or wreck landmark elections and risk undermining vital U.S. support.

Gen. Musharraf made concessions ahead of Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte’s arrival yesterday, allowing independent TV news back on the air and freeing opposition leaders and a respected U.N. rights specialist.

But he also pushed ahead with plans for parliamentary elections in January, swearing in a caretaker government and defending his record since seizing power in a 1999 coup.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20071117/
FOREIGN/111170032/1001

In the Heart of Pakistan, a Deep Sense of Anxiety

November 7, 2007

By Emily Wax
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, November 7, 2007; Page A01

LAHORE, Pakistan, Nov. 6 — Three days after President Pervez Musharraf declared emergency rule, a deep sense of anxiety prevails among Pakistan’s students, rights activists and intellectuals, who say the mass arrests being carried out by the government mark an unprecedented assault on civil society.

When Musharraf suspended the constitution Saturday, he said he had been forced to act by rising extremism and judicial interference in his efforts to protect the country. But in Lahore, an ancient city that has long served as the cultural and intellectual heart of Pakistan, many government critics see a smoke screen being used to quash opposition.

Read the rest:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/06/AR2007110600516.html?hpid=topnews

Crisis in Pakistan: Musharraf, Bhutto and Sharif At Odds

November 3, 2007

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) (November 4, 2007)- Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule on Saturday, deploying troops and sacking a top judge in a bid to reassert his flagging authority against political rivals and Islamist militants.Nuclear-armed Pakistan’s internal security has deteriorated sharply in recent months with a wave of suicide attacks by al Qaeda-inspired militants, including one that killed 139 people.

State-run Pakistan Television said Musharraf had suspended the constitution and declared an emergency, ending weeks of speculation that the general who seized power in a 1999 coup might impose emergency rule or martial law.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on a visit to Turkey, criticized the measures as “highly regrettable” and said she hoped Pakistan would have a free and fair election in January as promised.

Witnesses said troops were deployed at Pakistan Television and radio stations, and most phone lines were down. Other troops sealed off the thoroughfare where the presidency building, the National Assembly and the Supreme Court are located.

Shots were heard in several neighborhoods of Karachi, where there is strong support for former opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister.
Television channels said that Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, whose earlier dismissal in March marked the beginning of a slide in Musharraf’s popularity, had been told that his services were “no longer required.”

Chaudhry had been reinstated in July.

Musharraf had been awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on whether he was eligible to run for re-election last month while still army chief. The court had said on Friday it would reconvene on Monday and try to finish the case quickly.

Chaudhry and eight other judges refused to endorse the provisional constitutional order issued by the president.

LAWYER ARRESTED

Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, told reporters at his home he was being arrested.

“One man has taken the entire nation hostage … Time has come for General Musharraf to go,” he said. Fellow lawyers shouted “Go Musharraf Go” as Ahsan was taken away by police.

The move is expected to put off parliamentary elections due in January, although Pakistan Television said that the cabinet, national and provincial assemblies would continue to function.

A senior security official told Reuters that Musharraf would seek approval for the move from the cabinet later, after which there were expectations he would address the nation.

The cabinet was due to start meeting at 7 pm (1400 GMT).

Musharraf had said he would quit as army chief if he was given a second term, and he had allowed Bhutto back into Pakistan to lead her party into the national elections.

A suicide bombing killed 139 people on Oct 19 when thousands of supporters flocked to the streets to welcome Bhutto when she returned to Karachi from eight years of self-imposed exile. She had flown to Dubai on Thursday.

Bhutto’s husband Asif Ali Zardari said she was already on a flight back to Pakistan from Dubai. He described Musharraf’s move as “definitely not pleasant news.”

“We’re hoping to build institutions, not destroy them.”

Exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, deposed by Musharraf in the 1999 coup, described his decision to invoke emergency powers as a form of martial law.

“We are heading towards a chaotic situation, heading towards anarchy,” Sharif told Indian news channel CNN-IBN in an interview replayed by Dawn Television in Pakistan.

Musharraf’s troubles began in March when he suspended Supreme Court Justice Chaudhry on allegations of misconduct.

Critics accused him of trying to put pressure on the court not to block his re-election and Musharraf’s popularity plummeted as lawyers rallied to support the top judge.

In July, after a week-long siege, Musharraf ordered troops to storm the Red Mosque in Islamabad to crush a Taliban-style movement based there.

At least 105 people were killed in the raid and a wave of deadly militant attacks and suicide bombings followed.

(Additional reporting by Simon Cameron-Moore, Simon Gardner and Zeeshan Haider)