Archive for the ‘siege’ Category

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.


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)


Mosque Siege Impacts All Pakistan

July 10, 2007

People who came with us fom Peace and Freedom to Peace and Freedom II may recognize the inputs of Muhammad.  Since we innaugurated Peace and Freedom on July 4, 2006, Muhammad has been a frequest contributor.  A professional journalist, Muhammad has been operating in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan between that country and Afghanistan.  He filed this report on July 10, 2007.

Dear John E. Carey,

The Pakistani authorities have launched the operation against the militants in the Islamabad Red Mosque, as you had predicted to me yesterday.  This mosque, as you know, is actually the headquarter of terrorits.

Actually the religious leaders in the Lal Majid have been spoiling the minds of tribal youths for the last several years. I think after their elimination the situation will be change to the better. Thank you very much.

Situation in Pakistan’s capital is still fluid as the troops have been trying to take control of the mosque, but so far they failed in their mission. Resistence from the mosque shows that the militants have huge quatity of arms and ammunition. A report said that troops stormed mosque and attempted to flush out the remaining militants entrenched inside a women’s religious school in fierce fighting that left at least 50 militants and eight soldiers dead.

Events in Islamabad have also been affecting the tribal areas and other parts of the country as according to several officials were killed or injured in the attacks by the militants.

At the moment Swat district and Dir district of North West Frontier Province are the places where the militants have been hitting the government officials through bombs.

Several police officials were killed and maimed.

According to a report, following an attack on a military convoy that killed four troops, including a major and a lieutenant, army contingents have moved to Swat to apparently launch a military operation against the banned Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi.The military is moving ahead from bunker to bunker to search for the “militants”, sources said. “The deployment of troops will be completed within two days and an operation against the Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) is expected within a week,” they added.“For the first time we have seen such a huge army deployment in the Swat valley,” Ali Zaman, a resident of Chakdara, told Daily Times by phone. According to him the entire valley and Dir district were in the grip of fear.Swat District Coordination Officer Syed Muhammad Javed said the army had been called in to maintain law and order.

“The district administration was left with no option but to call the army to curb growing militancy and attacks on officials of the law-enforcement agencies,” Javed said. “The army has been deployed at the airport, bridges and at government installations,” the DCO said. TNSM activists led by their acting Ameer Maulana Fazlullah have called the army deployment a violation of the peace deal signed by the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA)-led NWFP government and TNSM on May 22, 2007.The government had allowed Fazullah to continue to run his FM radio station. Fazlullah in return had agreed to support a polio vaccination campaign, education for girls and government efforts to maintain law and order in the district. He also agreed to shut all weapon-manufacturing units and training facilities for the militants.

Recently, the maulana asked his followers through his illegal FM radio station to “carry out my mission in case I die in a military operation.” “We are not supporting the militants in Swat and will retaliate if the army attacks us,” he said.

Dear Sir, some of the government officials have been supporting Taliban and terrorists. So far hundreds of terrorists were brought to Bajaur Agency for sending them to Afghanistan to fight against the US forces. I want to stop these people, but at the moment I am helpless.

Just please bring this matter into the notice of US administration as they can pressure Pakistan to take action against the militants in Bajaur Agency tribal areas.

I think compromises at this point will affect war on terrorism. Again thank you very much.

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas Pakistan

Former Pakistan PM to lead talks over besieged mosque

July 9, 2007

by Masroor Gilani

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf Monday appointed a former prime minister to lead last-ditch talks with militant-led Islamists barricaded with women and children in an Islamabad mosque.

Security forces again fired tear gas and exchanged gunfire with the rebels at the Red Mosque, a group said to include foreign fighters and insurgents with links to Al-Qaeda. Twenty-four people have died since Tuesday.

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