Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pakistan is spinning out of control

Once again, the US has gotten itself involved over its head in the intricacies of Muslim world politics. Pervez Musharraf, dictator of Pakistan, was "koshered" when he cooperated in the war on terror. Now however, he has reinstituted an "emergency" in order to ensure the "right" election results. Pakistanis have rebelled against this sort of "democracy," which will be inevitably blamed on the US, though there is not really much the US can do to "force" democracy on Pakistan.
The result may ultimately be a radical coup of the kind that took place in Iran. Then there could be an Islamist government running a nuclear state. That can't be good.
From Al-Jazeera:
Bhutto calls on Musharraf to quit   
Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's opposition leader, has urged the international community to stop backing Pervez Musharraf and called on him to quit as president.
Bhutto, currently under house arrest in Lahore, said on Tuesday: "Musharraf must quit. He must quit as president and as chief of army staff.
"I call on the international community to stop backing ... the man whose dictatorship threatens to engulf this nuclear-armed state in chaos," she said.
She also said for the first time that she would not serve under Musharraf is he wins elections he has promised by January 9.
"I would not serve as prime minister under a man who has  repeatedly broken his promises, who is a dictator," said Bhutto, who has previously held talks with Musharraf on sharing power.
"Look what he is giving to the nation - imposing an emergency,  suspending the constitution and cracking down on democratic forces.
"We gave him a roadmap for a peaceful transition but he has flouted  that," she said.
Pakistani police put Bhutto back under house arrest at the home of a party official hours before she was to lead a protest rally to the capital, Islamabad.
Security forces are surrounding the area where Bhutto is currently detained and dozens of Bhutto supporters have been arrested.
As hundreds of extra police moved in around the home where she was staying and set up barricades on streets, a senior government official said her planned procession would not be allowed.
'Assassination fear'
Aftab Cheema, the Lahore police chief, said that Bhutto had been served with a week-long detention notice.
Police have said Bhutto could be the target of a suicide assassination bid, like the one that killed 139 people at a rally last month welcoming her back from eight years in self-imposed exile.
Last week, police blocked her from leaving her Islamabad home to hold a rally in the nearby city of Rawalpindi.
Al Jazeera correspondent James Bays met several opposition politicians in hiding or under virtual house arrest, including Imran Khan, the former cricketer now head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Tehmina Daultana, an MP close to exiled former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Qazi Hussain Ahmad, president of the Jamaat-e-Islami.
All said it would be impossible to contest an election under the emergency rule Musharraf imposed on November 3. 
Commonwealth pressure
Musharraf, who suspended the constitution, sacked most judges, locked up lawyers, rounded up thousands of opposition and rights activists and curbed the media, has come under mounting pressure from Western allies to set Pakistan back on the path to democracy.
He said on Sunday general elections would be held by January 9 but declined to say when the constitution would be restored, saying the emergency rule would ensure a free and fair vote.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, and George Bush, the US president, on Monday urged Musharraf to lift the emergency.
And the British Commonwealth gave Musharraf 10 days to lift the state of emergency or have the country suspended from the group.
 While suspension would be largely symbolic, it could have implications for development assistance.
Pakistan was suspended in 1999 following the military coup that brought Musharraf to power but readmitted in 2004 after perceived progress on democratic reforms.

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