Emad's Blog (Under Renovation)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Emergency in Pakistan

Last night, while watching the speech made by Musharraf on National TV, for the first time since he's been in power (The Coup of 1999, inclusive), I felt like I was watching a dictator address an insignificant nation. This 'state of emergency' that has been imposed, while justified through the deteriorating security situation and the 'confusion' of roles between the three branches of government, is clearly a mere cloak of protection for a ruler that is seeing growing threat to his role.

From those that have been following my blog, it might come as a surprise that while my words have earlier echoed some extent of approval of the incumbent government, largely out of appreciation for the 'economic bottom line' they have exhibited, I am now obliged to see this situation as nothing more than a gross attack on civil rights that have taken many many decades for Pakistani to get to. To be perfectly honest, I didn't think that the General would sink to this level even with the tough corner that he was in.

Earlier today, I was discussing with a group of friends, how even though we're in a state of emergency, it's still all a high level game and surely jokes about it such as 'Emergency Dinner Plans' and 'Emergency Discounts at Retail Outlets' was the only effect of this on our lives. Of course, that and the fact that the absence of TV news channels, foreign and privately owned local ones is quite an inconvenience as we're having to learn the hard way how much the state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV) really sucks and the 'unbiased opinions on TV', we've learned to take for granted (courtesy the govt) are surely a great privilege.

It appears though, that unlike the insurgencies in Swat, the recent suicide bombs, this situation is not going to be so far from the everyday life for the larger population. By suspending the constitution of Pakistan, including articles that cover basic civil rights and liberties, Musharraf has now officially become more unpopular than even the man he ousted, Nawaz Sharif, was at the time of the coup.

I could probably continue to write about this for hours, so in the interest of all the readers that are looking for a nutshell view/have been watching enough TV all day, I'm going to summarize quite drastically.


Stated Reason: Security Situation, Threat to 'Democracy', 'Confusion' among branches of government leading to the govt being ineffective in operation, demoralized law enforcement authorities, lowering investor confidence.. (Read Proclamation of Emergency)

Actual Reason: Threat to Musharraf's presidency, continued judicial independence and large number of ruling against the executive and legislative branches of government, media driving a revolution.


Suspension of Constitution replaced by Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO), removal of a large majority of judges - Supreme Court and High Court - upon refusal to take a renewed oath of loyalty, no ruling of any cases against any official in the govt including President and Prime Minister, the Order to be only amended by the President alone, All private media and foreign media TV channels (and some radio channels) taken off air and will only be replaced once a new 'Code of Conduct' for them has been accepted, no public protests, arrests of politicians, lawyers, academics and other activists, National Elections to be delayed.

What will Happen from Here?

Scenario 1: A critical mass of people have already been put on fire by the events of the last few months, well proliferated by the media, they will take to the streets and make it impossible for the government to rule. This will then convert into an official Marshal Law which will be short lived and the Commanders of the Pakistan Armed Forces will pull their support from Musharraf and will return to the Barracks.

Scenario 2: We have yet to reached that critical mass. No 'leaders' will be able to unite and mobilize people. Small pockets of protesters will get cracked upon and we will continue like this for a few more years.

Till When?

Apparently out of our 60 year history, Pakistan has been under 'emergency rule' for about half of them. So no timeline looks to be given.

In a few closing thoughts, I'm going to want to reach out to Mr President that when you spoke to the U.S. in your speech yesterday, you quoted Abraham Lincoln and his extra-constitutional actions 150 years ago. Mr President, you're not Abraham Lincoln, we're not the U.S., and we're certainly not 150 years back in time and don't want you to send us there again.

And from the reactions in the American media, mostly on the CNN coverage (only been accessing that through the internet), it's shocking that while the move is 'condemned', the issues to do with foreign aid are labeled complicated and requiring time consuming deliberation, and it almost appears that they're empathetic for Musharraf 'having to do this' as the judiciary was becoming a hindrance in the ability to fight 'Terrorism'.

Guess it's now up to the Pakistanis, that across the world (and hopefully in the country too) are organizing their voices. This time around, there is hope.

Professor from LUMS (my uni) were arrested all over the country. The picture above Aasim Sajjad Akhtar in Islamabad. Click to see the horrific video of the arrests. Reports say that others also include Bilal Mintoo (Law Faculty) and Dr Ali Cheema (Head of Economics Department). Imran Khan was also arrested from LUMS yesterday.

"Dear all. As I write to you many members of society are actively protesting against the travesty that has plunged us once again into the dark ages. The hrcp building has been surrounded by police and peaceful protesters including some of our faculty members are about to be arrested. In islamabad and elsewhere the top judiciary of the country remains under house arrest and similar arrests are being made. The press has been completely muffled. This is the time to peacefully but unequivocally express our very strong dismay and protest against yet another martial law. Howvever as we unite in this please ensure that nothing happens that in any way undermines our institutional norms. Please introspect and gauge whether continuing silence makes sense any more. Please speak up, stand together and be counted. And be careful. Regards. Osama Siddique *** This Message Has Been Sent Using BlackBerry Internet Service from Mobilink ***" (Professor of Law at LUMS)

"The vicious cycle of charisma, corruption and coup has been broken. Earlier the roles were distributed. Now we have just one person to blame."

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  • Remember that night in the MC house many months ago when we made the grand plan for revolution? And you were the only person who did not believe! :)

    By Blogger Sohaib, At 5/11/07 09:22  

  • I was watching the press conference yesterday. One reporter asked "if the reason for emergency is the terrorists attacks, then what extra rights emergency brings to the president which will make terrorists more accessible to hunt?" Good question. And something which i didnt understand as well. Unless Musharraf has a twin brother who is the general and musharraf the president is not allowing his twin brother to handle the terrorists. So musharraf the general, is leading the emergency. Can this be possible?

    By Blogger eXPerience called L!FE, At 5/11/07 15:52  

  • @Sohaib: True, I was that one person. Now I'm going to go dig up my black shalwar kameez!

    @Shashaank: I know I saw that too. The reason teh response was weak cos its not a battle against militants, its one against the courts and the media. Those are the ones that can now be picked up and roughed up without charge.

    By Blogger eMad, At 5/11/07 17:11  

  • yes the situation is abysmal but what can be done now is a bigger question? civil disobedience may be the answer and to start with each one of us should mobilize people to stop paying the utility bills of their homes to the government. please float ideas for which people need not come on the roads and face the brutality of the state

    By Anonymous MS Bakhtiar, At 8/11/07 08:32  

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