Saturday, November 03, 2007

It was the heat of the moment

GWBush's BFF Musharraf, a partner in the Global War on Terrorism™ has gone off the reservation, and the Times of India has some perspective:
Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf's has defied the advice of his American benefactors in imposing martial law and Emergency, but Washington appears set to finesse the situation yet again because of what it sees as the overall US interest in the so-called war on terror.

The first sign that Washington is ready to wink at Musharraf's crackdown came when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stopped short of condemning the development and instead described it as "highly regrettable."

. . . But the statements fell well short of the kind of condemnations Washington routinely issues against countries, excepting vassal states, that suppress democratic rights, indicating that the administration was already finessing Musharraf's crackdown.

. . . Musharraf also rejected Fallon's offer to send US troops to the region, saying American forces would only exacerbate the situation, and demanding instead that Washington supply more military hardware.

. . . Musharraf's journey from Washington's poster boy to possibly its problem child has been gradual but understated. Publicly, the Bush administration still swears by him; privately, it began swearing at him some months back when reports first surfaced that he was holding back on Washington in its war on terror.

But instead of dumping him overnight as it often does with odious dictators, Washington decided that the delicate war on terror business demanded a gradual transition in Pakistan, a country seen as the ground zero of world terrorism.

That was when the Bush administration decided to interject Benazir Bhutto, the discredited former prime minister who was not even getting a low level state department appointment till last year.

Well. Indeed. A viewpoint not likely to be heard in the "free" mainsream media here. What they don't mention is the purported reasons for the State of Emergency:
The Pakistani leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, declared a state of emergency on Saturday night, suspending the country’s Constitution, blacking out all independent television news reports and filling the streets of the capital with police officers and soldiers.

The move appeared to be an effort by General Musharraf to reassert his fading power in the face of growing opposition from the country’s Supreme Court, civilian political parties and hard-line Islamists. Pakistan’s Supreme Court was expected to rule within days on the legality of General Musharraf’s re-election last month as the country’s president, which opposition groups have said was improper.

Interestingly, many Pakistani newspapers still have their web sites up:
Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has declared emergency rule and suspended the country's constitution.
Troops have been deployed inside state-run TV and radio stations, while independent channels have gone off air.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who condemned the moves, has been replaced and is being confined to the Supreme Court with 10 other judges.

It comes as the court was due to rule on the legality of Gen Musharraf's re-election victory in October.

And here:
President General Pervez Musharraf, in his capacity as the chief of army staff, on Saturday declared emergency rule in the country, suspended the country’s constitution, and issued a new Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO).Text of emergency proclamation

. . . Soon after the proclamation of emergency by Gen Musharraf, an eight-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, reportedly set aside the decision. Setting aside General Musharraf’s proclamation of emergency, the panel asked all members of the superior judiciary against taking oath under the new PCO.

The Supreme Court, in its order, termed Gen Musharraf’s action “illegal and unconstitutional” and asked the corps commanders and all civil and military officials not to take oath under the PCO. Till filing of this report, the judges of the SC were still inside the court building.

. . . There were also reports that some of the lawyers, including the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, have been taken into custody. Mr. Ahsan’s wife told reporters that her husband was arrested soon after the imposition of emergency.

Although news of a possible emergency rule had been doing rounds for the past several days, on Saturday it became quite evident when a large contingent of paramilitary troops started to arrive in Islamabad, and cable operators were asked to pull the plug on all independent news channels, including DawnNews, Geo, ARY and Aaj TV.

Land telephone lines and mobile phones are also partially down in Islamabad and communication has become almost impossible in many parts of the capital. TV channels and newspapers had been reporting for the past few days that the government had made up its mind to declare emergency rule.

Here is a link to several other Pakistani newspapers. Inerestingly, several seem to present the Musharraf side of the story. Clearly, this is a totalitarian country, unlike the U.S. where press and media would never unquestioningly present the administration story.

Oh, wait . . . never mind.