Sunday, November 04, 2007

Musharraf and Pakistan

The Pakistani Supreme Court was apparently on the verge of invalidating the recent election of Pervez Musharraf when Musharraf declared an “emergency” i.e. martial law. Hundreds of Musharraf opponents have reportedly been arrested. According to Metroblogging Lahore from Pakistan, the emergency declaration:

Curtailed constitutional safeguards on life and liberty
Gave police wider powers of arrest
Can deny suspects access to lawyers
Restricts freedom of movement
Shuts down private TV stations
Curtails media coverage of suicide bombings and militant activity
Replaces the Chief justice and requires others to swear an oath of loyalty
Bans the Supreme Court from rescinding the emergency order.

So far the best analysis of this emergency I’ve read comes from Mark Noonan on Blogs for Bush (Nov. 4, 2007):
I really can't say what is the best course of action for Musharraf; nor can I
say what is the best course of action for the United States in this situation. I
can only be certain that the Islamists must not take control is Pakistan - and
when I mean "must not", I mean that if Musharraf were to fall to an Islamist
revolution, we'd immediately have to intervene. Given the practical realities,
our only recourse is to urge Musharraf to as quickly as possible restore
democratic institutions and, meanwhile, just go slow and tread carefully.

I hope the U.S. is prepared (or secretly and rapidly preparing) to eliminate Pakistan’s nukes if the Pakistani government falls to jihadists. (See New York Times for more info).


Robert said...

At this point, what is different from Musharraf and some of his more radical counterparts from the viewpoint of his people? He's already started to make the moves towards a totalitarian government. At this rate, it'll be hard to distinguish him from other dictators. Remember, Saddam Hussein started out doing very similar things to gain power.

Dennis said...


From what I read it seems like almost all of his people hate him now, and I can't say that I blame them. From the average Pakistani standpoint, they've got a dictator on the one hand and the Taliban/al qaeda on the other. Some choice--Like having to choose between Stalin and Hitler!

From a world perspective, as far as I know, Musharraf showed no inclination to use his nuclear wepons for terrorism. I'm quite sure his radical opponents would not hesitate to do so.

It would be nice if we could convince Musharraf to back down from the marshall law and let the democratic process work, but, as we've seen in Iraq, there's only so much we can do.

If the jihadists take over, however, I think we need to move immediately to disable their nuclear weapons and nuclear weapon capability.