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11-05-2007, 09:36 PM
Thousands Arrested in Pakistan Protests


Associated Press Writer

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Police fired tear gas and clubbed lawyers protesting Monday against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's emergency rule. The U.S. and other nations called for elections to be held on schedule and said they were reviewing aid to Pakistan.

In the largest protest in the eastern city of Lahore, lawyers dressed in black suits and ties chanted "Musharraf Go!" as they defied the government's ban on rallies. Some fought back with stones and tree branches.

The crackdown mainly targeted Musharraf's most potent critics - the judiciary and lawyers, independent television stations and opposition activists. Opposition groups said 3,500 had been arrested, though the government reported half that total.

President Bush urged Musharraf to hold parliamentary elections as scheduled in January and relinquish his army post as soon as possible. "Our hope is that he will restore democracy as quickly as possible," Bush said.

But there did not appear to be a unified position among senior government officials on whether they planned to hold the election as planned. The attorney general said the vote would take place as scheduled but then conceded there was a chance of a delay. The prime minister also left open the possibility of a delay.

The demonstrations so far have been limited largely to opposition activists, rights workers and lawyers angered by his attacks on the judiciary. There does not appear to be a groundswell of popular resistance and all the protests have been quickly and sometimes brutally stamped out.

The streets of Pakistan appeared normal Monday with people going about business as usual for the most part.

Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 coup and is also head of Pakistan's army, suspended the constitution on Saturday ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on whether his recent re-election as president was legal. He ousted seven independent-minded Supreme Court judges, put a stranglehold on independent media and granted sweeping powers to authorities to crush dissent.

Musharraf's leadership is threatened by the Islamic militant movement that has spread from border regions to the capital, the reemergence of political rivals, including former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, and an increasingly defiant Supreme Court.

The court has emerged as the chief check on Musharraf, who has been promising democracy ever since he seized power. The judiciary has proved surprisingly independent for a country that has been under military rule for most of the 60 years since it was founded.

The emergency decree appeared aimed primarily at heading off any Supreme Court challenge to Musharraf prolonging his eight-year rule.

The opposition has been demanding Musharraf relinquish his post as army chief and says he should be disqualified because he contested the presidential vote as army chief.

Musharraf has also moved quickly to control the media, which he said was partly to blame for the current crisis. Authorities have blacked out TV networks and threatened broadcasters with jail time, but so far have spared the Internet and most newspapers. Most people in Pakistan, where illiteracy is rife, get their news from TV or radio.

Police raided and briefly sealed a printing press belonging to Pakistan's largest media group on Monday. They also tried to storm a press club in Karachi. Broadcasts by independent news networks remained blocked, and domestic transmissions of BBC and CNN went off the air.

Lawyers - who were the driving force behind protests earlier this year when Musharraf tried unsuccessfully to fire independent-minded chief justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry - attempted to stage rallies in major cities on Monday. But the protests were quickly stamped out.

In Lahore, about 2,000 lawyers congregated at the High Court. As lawyers tried to exit onto a main road, hundreds of police stormed inside, swinging batons and firing tear gas. Lawyers, shouting "Go Musharraf Go!" responded by throwing stones and beating police with tree branches.

An Associated Press reporter saw police bundle about 250 lawyers into waiting vans. About 20 were injured, at least two bleeding from the head and were treated in a waiting ambulance before being spirited away.

In the capital, Islamabad, hundreds of police and paramilitary troops lined roads and rolled out barbed-wire barricades on Monday to seal off the Supreme Court.

Rana Bhagwandas, a Supreme Court judge who refused to take oath under Musharraf's proclamation of emergency orders, said he has been locked inside his official residence in Islamabad and that other judges were being pressured to support the government.

"They are still working on some judges, they are under pressure," Bhagwandas told Geo TV in a phone interview.

Chief justice Chaudhry was removed from his post on Saturday, just as the Supreme Court was preparing to rule on the validity of Musharraf's Oct. 6 re-election.

"I am virtually arrested," Chaudhry said in a written statement, describing the emergency declaration as a "naked attack" on the rule of law." "The main gate of my residence has been locked."

Even lawyers who were not involved in protests appeared to be targeted.

Imran Qadi Khan said police pulled him off a bus near Musharraf's army office in Rawalpindi, just south of the capital, as he was heading to work.

"We have been sitting here since morning," he said from prison, sitting alongside other lawyers who stood out because of their traditional attorney dress, black jackets and black ties. "The police are not telling us anything about what they plan to do with us."

Since late Saturday, between 1,500 and 1,800 people have been detained nationwide, an Interior Ministry official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

But Ahsan Iqbal, a spokesman for former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's opposition party, said authorities had rounded up around 2,300 of their supporters. Other political activists, human rights groups, and lawyers added another 1,200 detentions to that toll.

They included at least 173 workers and supporters of Bhutto, who has held talks in recent months with Musharraf over a possible alliance to fight extremism, said Pakistan People's Party spokesman Farhatullah Babar.

Musharraf's emergency measures have been met with international condemnation.

The Netherlands became the first country to punish Pakistan, announcing a freeze on almost all of its millions of dollars in development aid.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington was reviewing its assistance to Pakistan, which has received billions of dollars in aid since Musharraf threw his support behind the U.S.-led war on terror after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

But Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested that military aid may not be affected because the Bush administration does not want to disrupt its partnership with Pakistan in fighting al-Qaida and other militants.

The country has been hit by a string of suicide bombings in recent weeks blamed on extremists, including one last month that killed 145.

Britain said it had no current plans to change the $493 million it has budgeted in aid to Pakistan over three years.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon expressed "strong dismay" at the detention of hundreds of human rights and opposition activists including the U.N. expert on religious freedom, Asma Jahangir, U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said.

Musharraf told ambassadors at his official residence that he was committed to completing Pakistan's transition to democracy.

"I am determined to remove my uniform once we correct these pillars - the judiciary, the executive and the parliament," he was quoted by state-run Pakistan Television as saying.

"I can assure you there will be harmony ... confidence will come back into the government, into law enforcement agencies and Pakistan will start moving again on the same track as we were moving."

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz left open the possibility of a delay in parliamentary elections that had been expected in January.

"The next general elections will be held according to the schedule or a program that will be finalized after consultation with all the stakeholders," he said. On Sunday, Aziz said the polls could be delayed by up to a year.

Attorney General Malik Mohammed Qayyum gave contradicting statements on whether the elections would be held on schedule.

"Yes the elections will go ahead on time," he told the Associated Press. But then he conceded there was a small chance of a delay because some in the government wanted to put the vote off by a year.

11-05-2007, 09:38 PM
Bush Urges Musharraf to Hold Elections


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush urged Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Monday to "restore democracy as quickly as possible," choosing mild disappointment over punishment or more pointed rhetoric to react to the declaration of emergency rule in anti-terror ally Pakistan.

Bush did not speak directly to Musharraf, a leader who took power in a 1999 coup but whom he has previously hailed as a friend he trusts and as a strong defender of freedom. Instead, the president handed that task to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who spoke with the Pakistani leader on the developing crisis for about 20 minutes from her plane en route home from the Middle East.

Bush said he directed Rice to deliver this message: "We expect there to be elections as soon as possible and that the president should remove his military uniform."

They were the president's first public comments on the situation since Musharraf imposed a state of emergency, suspended his country's constitution, ousted the country's top judge, stifled independent media and deployed troops to crush dissent. He called it necessary to prevent a takeover by Islamic extremists.

Bush mixed concern for Musharraf's actions with praise for Pakistan's cooperation in combatting al-Qaida terrorists believed to be rebuilding strongholds on the largely lawless border with Afghanistan.

"President Musharraf has been a strong fighter against extremists and radicals," Bush said at the end of an Oval Office meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Even a senior administration official, at a White House briefing, merely called Musharraf "a friend who we think has done something ill-advised." The official spoke on condition of anonymity so he could talk more freely about the behind-the-scenes thoughts of the White House.

Despite billions in U.S. aid to Pakistan since Musharraf declared himself a war-on-terror partner after the 2001 attacks, Bush appeared resigned that the United States has little leverage to influence Musharraf's behavior.

"Our hope now is that he hurry back to elections," Bush said. "All we can do is continue to work with the president as well as others in the Pak government to make it abundantly clear the position of the United States."

Even as Bush spoke, police in Pakistan oversaw a sometimes-violent crackdown on lawyers and others opposing Musharraf's decisions, with hundreds, if not thousands, of arrests. And Musharraf said he would return the country to "the same track as we were moving" but gave no indication when parliamentary elections would take place. They had been scheduled for January.

The Pakistani leader has ignored U.S. requests before, including not following through on repeated promises to relinquish his post as head of Pakistan's army and, most recently, for most of last week when officials up to Rice's level unsuccessfully lobbied Musharraf not to declare a state of emergency.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., warned against being too soft.

"Pakistan will only be a reliable and capable ally against terrorism when its government is not seen as an enemy by its own people," she said.

But Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, warned against being too hasty with rebukes. "As politics in Pakistan continue evolving, we should not rush to abandon Musharraf but work with him to get Pakistan back on the path toward democracy," he said.

The White House said it is reviewing U.S. assistance to Pakistan in light of the developments. Such aid has amounted to $9.6 billion dollars since 2001, not including another $800 million the administration is requesting from Congress for the current budget year.

Bush would not discuss any consequences if Musharraf fails to reverse course. "It's a hypothetical," he said.

But top officials suggested the money for the war on terrorism - the large majority of the aid - is unlikely to be at risk.

"We are mindful not to do anything that would undermine ongoing counterterrorism efforts," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said while on a visit to China.

At the White House briefing, the senior official said the administration was focusing its review on exploring whether any of Musharraf's actions trigger automatic aid cuts or suspensions, as required by the laws governing U.S. foreign assistance.

The official said the administration is encouraged by some indications that Musharraf intends for elections to happen on about the same timetable as planned. But the official said Washington is waiting for clarification, which could take weeks.

"The question is: What do you do when someone makes that mistake that is a close ally?" the official said. "You know, do you cut him off, hit him with sanctions, walk out the door? Or do you try and see if you can work them to get them back on track?"

11-05-2007, 09:39 PM
Musharraf's Democracy Promise Fell Short


Associated Press Writer

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Pervez Musharraf seized power in a coup eight years ago, promising to bring true democracy - a move welcomed by many Pakistanis, who were increasingly frustrated by a corrupt civilian government.

His takeover angered the international community. But his decision to end Pakistan's support for the hard-line Taliban regime in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States won him new friends in the West - and enemies at home.

Now, Musharraf is finding his leadership threatened by an Islamic militant movement that has spread from border regions to the capital, the reemergence of political rival and former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, and an increasingly defiant Supreme Court.

Last week, he declared a state of emergency, cut communications and deploy paramilitary troops and police in the capital.

Musharraf, 64, has survived several attempts on his life, including two huge bombings in December 2003. Both were blamed on al-Qaida and local Islamic militants.

Hard-liners were angered by his move to ally this Islamic nation with the United States in its war on terror. They also opposed his efforts toward peace with the country's historic rival, India.

Musharraf was born on Aug. 11, 1943, in New Delhi, India, the middle son of a diplomat. His family migrated by train during independence from Britain in 1947, when predominantly Hindu India and Islamic Pakistan formally divided.

Joining the army in 1964, he quickly rose through the ranks and was promoted to army chief under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1998.

Their relationship soured the following year after Musharraf organized a Pakistani push into the Indian-held part of Kashmir, bringing the two nuclear-armed countries to the brink of war.

When Sharif tried to oust him, allegedly obstructing Musharraf's plane from landing in Pakistan after a trip abroad, the army chief seized power in a bloodless coup.

In his personal life, Musharraf is something of a bon vivant. A friend described him as "a modern, secularist man" who likes to dance to Western music at parties.

While Musharraf is regarded as liberal and an advocate of religious moderation, he has been less dynamic in restoring democracy to Pakistan.

Musharraf held elections in 2002, but only after amending the constitution to give himself sweeping powers to sack the prime minister and Parliament.

He allowed independent media outlets to expand and thrive, but under emergency rule his regime is now stripping those liberties away for fear that news reports will further fan opposition.

11-05-2007, 09:40 PM
Candidates Disagree on Handling Pakistan


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Presidential candidates from both parties condemned the declaration of emergency rule in Pakistan but disagreed Monday on how to deal with one of the United States' few allies in the Muslim world.

Republicans expressed support for President Bush in dealing with Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, while Democrats blamed Bush for the unrest.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized the arrest of opposition leaders and suspension of the constitution in Pakistan, and she blamed the Bush administration for diverting resources to Iraq and away from the fight against terror on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

"We now find ourselves having to cope with yet another threatening challenge made worse by the failed policies of this president," the New York senator said.

In Iowa City, John Edwards said the United States should tie its aid to Pakistan to free elections and greater openness.

"Our leverage with the Pakistanis is the fact that we provide billions of dollars in assistance to them," Edwards said. "We should use that leverage to push Musharraf and the Pakistani government to do the right thing."

However, Republican Rudy Giuliani said he wouldn't urge the Bush administration to cut off financial aid to the Musharraf government.

"I would not second-guess any president on that because I think they're in the middle of a very difficult situation right now," Giuliani said in an interview with The Associated Press in New Hampshire.

The former New York mayor said it was important to both encourage democracy and keep the government together in Pakistan.

Fellow Republican Fred Thompson, a former Tennessee senator, said aid should continue, as did former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

"The Pakistani military is working with us in key ways in Afghanistan and I would not end that effort," Romney said in Florida. "That's something critical to us."

It's possible that an aid-cutoff measure could come up in the Senate, where several of the candidates would vote on it, but no such action seems imminent.

Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd said, "I am firmly opposed to cutting off assistance to the government and people of Pakistan at this time - in fact I would argue that additional assistance might even be necessary in the coming days."

P.J. Crowley, a former Defense Department and White House official during the Clinton administration and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said the Pakistan debate might be too nuanced for presidential politics.

"Whatever a candidate says at this point, certainly won't fit on a bumper sticker," he said.

Still, nearly everyone wanted to comment:

- Democrat Bill Richardson, a former United Nations ambassador, said the Bush administration's approach to Musharraf has been a "policy without teeth." The New Mexico governor, campaigning in Des Moines, Iowa, said he would tell Musharraf that Pakistan would lose $10 billion in U.S. aide unless he restored democracy and rooted out terrorist elements inside his country.

- Joe Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as well as a Democratic presidential candidate, called Pakistan the "most dangerous and complex relationship we have." He said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" that the Bush administration should review its aid program and consider sending U.S. troops into Pakistan to find Osama bin Laden.

- Sen. Barack Obama's campaign said the Bush administration had pursued "failed policies of promoting stability over democracy" in Pakistan. "We must start with a serious review of our investments in Pakistan to make sure that U.S. assistance is supporting democracy, not repression," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Monday.

11-05-2007, 09:41 PM
Administration Is Torn Over Pakistan


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The crackdown by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf forces the Bush administration to walk a delicate line in dealing with a key ally in the war on terrorism, one armed with nuclear weapons in one of the world's most dangerous neighborhoods. There are no good options.

The U.S. could cut off the billions of dollars of annual support, but that could undermine counterterrorism efforts. Continued support for the Musharraf government would bring ridicule from human-rights advocates and make a mockery of Bush's "freedom agenda."

The administration may have to concede it has little direct influence over Musharraf, some analysts suggest. That could lead to doing little in hopes the crisis will pass, while condemning Musharraf's consolidation of power and arrests of hundreds of activists and political opponents.

Given the Pakistani general's growing unpopularity in his own country, his hold on power may be fragile. He could be vulnerable to the same kind of coup by the Pakistan military that he used to seize power in October 1999.

"We want to be a champion for democracy, we want to be pushing for that. But we also have to recognize that instability or state collapse in Pakistan at this time would be a nightmare for everyone," said Michele Flournoy, a former Pentagon defense strategist and now president of the Center for a New American Security, a defense think tank.

"What we should be doing is trying to get the reasonable parties within Pakistan back into dialogue with each other," she said.

The White House and State Department clearly were struggling for a second day on Monday in weighing options after Musharraf on Saturday suspended the constitution and declared a state of emergency. The dilemma confronting the U.S. was clear from President Bush's on-one-hand, on-the-other-hand response to the crisis.

Calling Musharraf's strong-arm tactics an affront to democracy, Bush declared: "We expect there to be elections as soon as possible and that the president should remove his military uniform." Despite strong U.S. warnings, Musharraf's government appeared set to delay elections that had been scheduled for January.

Still, talking with reporters after a meeting with Turkey's prime minister, Bush noted that Musharraf "has been a strong fighter against extremists and radicals. ... And our hope is that he will restore democracy as quickly as possible."

The White House suggested that the administration would hew to a middle course, neither supporting new sanctions nor condoning the suspension of democracy, in an effort to get the Pakistani government back on track.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates both said U.S. aid to Pakistan would be scrutinized. The White House later said this review was mainly focused on whether aid programs might be affected by provisions in existing law that could be triggered by Musharraf's move to consolidate power.

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., chairwoman of a House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, said on Monday that Congress would "review all relevant economic and military aid" to make sure it was advancing American interests.

But P.J. Crowley, an official at the National Security Council and the Pentagon during the Clinton administration, warned against "an impulse on Capitol Hill to cut back the aid. I think that would be a mistake. If we are going to maintain the leverage we have with Pakistan, the aid can be useful."

"There may be some tweaks that can be made to it," added Crowley, now with the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, about $10 billion in U.S. assistance has gone to Pakistan.

According a breakdown by the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies, close to 60 percent has reimbursed Pakistan for its help in the war on terrorism.

Roughly 15 percent, or close to $1.6 billion, has helped pay for weapons systems and other "security assistance." Another 15 percent consisted of direct payments to the government of Pakistan while the remaining 10 percent covered "development and humanitarian assistance," including relief for the 2005 earthquake.

Frederick Barton, an analyst and Pakistan expert at the center who oversaw the study, said he supported "some internal review of where our $2 billion a year is going."

"This is a chance to broaden our base in Pakistan by saying that the need of the Pakistani people will continue irrespective of this power play by Musharraf," Barton said. He suggested a shift of U.S. assistance away from major weapons systems and the military "into a closer alignment with the people of the country."

"We also need to prepare ourselves for the inevitable - which is that Musharraf will leave, whether it is in 10 minutes or 10 weeks. We should be working under the assumption that he's not a permanent fixture," Barton said.

Rice, touring the Middle East, called Musharraf from her plane on Monday to underscore U.S. opposition to his decision to impose what political rival and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto has described as martial law.

Adding to the situation's delicacy: the unpopularity of the United States in Pakistan. A poll in August by Terror Free Tomorrow, a bipartisan group that seeks to reduce support for international terrorism, found that just 19 percent of Pakistanis surveyed had favorable views of the U.S. - about half the 40 percent who said they had favorable views of longtime enemy India.

"We are just 48 hours into this," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. "I think it deserves a thorough review, a comprehensive review, and not something we should rush in terms of any actions that we take."

11-05-2007, 09:42 PM
The Freedom Agenda FizzlesHow George Bush and Condoleezza Rice made a mess of Pakistan


By Fred Kaplan
Posted Monday, Nov. 5, 2007, at 7:18 PM ET

Now we've really got problems.

The state of emergency in Pakistan signals yet another low point in President George W. Bush's foreign policy—a stark demonstration of his paltry influence and his bankrupt principles. More than that, the crackdown locks us in a crisis—a potentially dangerous dynamic—from which there appears to be no escape route.

For much of last week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other top U.S. officials had been urging Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, not to declare martial law. He not only ignored these pleas; he defied them.
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Last month, Rice persuaded Musharraf to let exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto back in the country—and persuaded Bhutto to go back—as part of a power-sharing deal. The idea was that Musharraf, who doubles as army chief of staff, would retain control of the military in the fight against terrorism, while Bhutto would attract the loyalty of Pakistan's increasingly discontented democrats. That ploy, too, turned out to be illusory: Bhutto was attacked the moment she got back; Musharraf showed no interest in sharing power.

Musharraf is portraying his suspension of the constitution as a necessary step to stabilize Pakistan and fend off Islamist terrorists. Yet the timing suggests it was, for the most part, a power grab. Pakistan's Supreme Court was about to rule that Musharraf's reign as both president and army chief of staff was unconstitutional. That meant the coming elections (which may or may not now be called off) would have ended his reign. And so he dissolved the court. He also arrested many democratic activists and shut down the nation's independent media.

It should now be clear, if it wasn't already, that Musharraf has been diddling Bush & Co. the past three years or longer.

In exchange for his promises to root out Taliban terrorists on the Afghan border and within Pakistan's own intelligence service, Bush has supplied Musharraf with at least $10 billion in aid. Yet while Musharraf has rendered considerable assistance in the war on terrorism, the Taliban—and possibly Osama Bin Laden himself—retain their sanctuary in Pakistan's northwest territories.

In exchange for Musharraf's promises to be a good democrat someday, Bush has declared Pakistan to be a "major non-NATO ally." Yet, with his strategically timed state of emergency, Musharraf has revealed he's not at all interested in democratic transitions.

But what can Bush—or his successor—do about it? The problem is that there's some truth to Musharraf's official reason for his crackdown. He has been going after al-Qaida jihadists, especially those inside his own country, though not so much Taliban fighters on the border of Afghanistan. And he is in a genuinely tight spot. On the one hand, he fears what some Western officials call the "Talibanization of Pakistan." On the other hand, he can't go after them too avidly, for fear of sparking a backlash from some of his own officers who have Islamist sympathies and who don't want to be seen as fighting America's war.

As Daniel Markey, a former State Department specialist on south Asia, wrote last summer in Foreign Affairs magazine, the army is "Pakistan's strongest government institution and the only one that can possibly deal with immediate threats of violent militancy and terrorism."

If the United States were to respond to this power grab by cutting off aid to the Pakistani army, the army would turn elsewhere—and the Islamist factions would be strengthened. If the United States were to cut its links to Musharraf … well, Musharraf is the face of the Pakistani army. If he goes, probably some other strongman would take his place, but the tenuous coalition he has assembled could fall apart in the process, with unpredictable—but almost certainly unpleasant—results.

And let's not forget the ultimate unpleasant fact: Pakistan has a test-proven nuclear arsenal.

Someone was speculating this morning on the BBC that the Bush administration might have a secret ally, an agent of sorts, within the Pakistani military command, poised to step in and serve U.S. interests if Musharraf fell. This is very doubtful. First, there are the obvious reasons (Bush's intense commitment to Musharraf and the military's relative impenetrability). Second, if Bush did have some fallback leader, it's unlikely Rice would have put so much effort—however fruitless the gesture now seems—to getting Bhutto back in the country for a power-sharing gambit. Nor, by the way, are there any civilian politicians in whom the United States could put its hopes; as Daniel Markey indicates in his article (and he is far from alone in this view), there are no civilian politicians, parties, or other entities that could exercise power without the military's nod.

This is why the Bush administration's response to the clampdown has been, as they say, "muted." The fact is, the United States needs Musharraf more than Musharraf needs the United States. And the fact that he's rubbing our noses in it doesn't make it any less true.

11-05-2007, 09:45 PM
George W. Bush tells Pervez Musharraf to lose the uniform


November 06, 2007 09:55am

US President George W. Bush has called on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to end emergency rule.

"We expect there to be elections as soon as possible, and that the President should remove his military uniform,'' Mr Bush said.

The White House previously said it was "deeply disturbed'' by the crisis which has led to mass arrests and street protests in Pakistan.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said US aid to the country was under review.

And the US State Department warned Washington's ties with Islamabad might not "remain the same'' unless General Musharraf reversed the decree.

But Mr Bush brushed aside questions about what he would do if Gen Musharraf refused or whether he would cut US aid, saying "all we can do is continue to work with the President'' for now and "we'll deal with it'' if he does not.

11-05-2007, 09:49 PM
US warns Pakistan over emergency



US President George W Bush has called on his Pakistani counterpart Pervez Musharraf to end Pakistan's state of emergency and to restore democracy.

He was speaking three days after Gen Musharraf - a key ally in President Bush's "war on terror" - imposed a state of emergency.

Mr Bush urged Mr Musharraf to quit his post as army chief and hold elections as soon as possible.

Pakistan's prime minister says the elections will be held as scheduled.

Elections are due by mid-January, but there were fears they might be abandoned because of the crisis.

Police have broken up street protests and hundreds of lawyers and opposition activists have been arrested.

The Pakistani president said he had declared the emergency to stop the country "committing suicide", because the country was in a crisis caused by militant violence and an unruly judiciary.

Critics, however, believe Gen Musharraf was acting to pre-empt a judgment by the Supreme Court on whether his re-election last month was legal.

'Restore democracy'
Mr Bush said he had asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to phone Gen Musharraf to convey his disappointment, rather than making the call himself.

He said the US had hoped he would not declare the emergency, but that the two countries would continue to work together to fight terrorism.

"We expect there to be elections as soon as possible and that the president should remove his military uniform," he said.

"Previous to his decision, we had made it clear that these emergency measures would undermine democracy and our hope is that he will restore democracy as quickly as possible.

The BBC's Jonathan Beale in Washington says the fact that Gen Musharraf ignored the US warning is an embarrassing snub to the White House.

Ms Rice has said Washington will now review the hundreds of millions of dollars of aid given to Pakistan each year.

But given Pakistan's importance to the US, our correspondent says, the possibility of cutting off the flow of assistance would seem to be remote.

Lawyers' protests
Pakistan had come under heavy international pressure after Gen Musharraf imposed emergency rule on Saturday.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed grave concern and called for the release of all those detained since the state of emergency was declared.

The UK has also reiterated demands for a return to civilian rule in Pakistan.

The Netherlands became the first country to suspend aid, and the EU said its members were considering "possible further steps".

But on Monday, the general gave his clearest indication yet that he was unlikely to give up his military post soon, even though he had been scheduled to do so this month.

In Lahore on Monday an estimated 2,000 lawyers congregated to stage a rally protesting at the dismissal of top judges and restrictions on the judiciary, but several were reported wounded when police waded in with tear gas and baton charges.

Lawyers chanting anti-Musharraf slogans at a demonstration in Karachi were dragged off into police vans, says the BBC's M Ilyas Khan.

Media reports, citing police and interior ministry sources, said some 1,500 people had been arrested in the past 48 hours throughout the country, while many top judges were effectively under house arrest.

The Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami was among the groups targeted.

Its leader, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, was under arrest, as were hundreds of members, the party said.

Information Minister Tariq Azim called those figures an exaggeration.

Pakistani TV news channels, which have huge audiences, are being prevented from broadcasting within the country, and at least one newspaper press was raided by police.

11-06-2007, 08:43 AM
Bush and Musharraf's grand illusion
Democracy for Pakistan was never the deal -- and as Musharraf's latest power grab throws his nation into turmoil, Bush will gladly go along.


By Juan Cole

Nov. 6, 2007 | In the fall of 1999, as he campaigned for the presidency, George W. Bush was asked by a reporter to name the leader of Pakistan. Bush could not. He famously replied: "The new Pakistani general, he's just been elected -- not elected, this guy took over office. It appears this guy is going to bring stability to the country, and I think that's good news for the subcontinent." Although Bush didn't know Gen. Pervez Musharraf's name and was confused as to how he got into office, the soon-to-be American president was sanguine about the anti-democratic developments in Pakistan.

More than seven years later, Bush's illusions about Musharraf -- and any illusion of democracy in Pakistan -- have been shattered by the dictator's declaration of a state of emergency. Tantamount to a coup, Musharraf's actions on Saturday have not only thrown Pakistan into turmoil but have also revealed the hypocrisy of Bush's foreign policy, including the proclaimed goal of fostering freedom and the rule of law in the Muslim world.

At a press conference on Monday, Bush said of the weekend coup, "We expect there to be elections as soon as possible." But while Bush admitted that Musharraf's actions would "undermine democracy," he insisted that the general is "a strong fighter" in the war on terror. That dual message was accompanied by the American president tepidly declining to say what he would do if Musharraf did not move toward elections. Also revealing was the fact that Bush had sent the weakest member of his team, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, out to warn Musharraf against the coup, indicating how little he was in reality worried about it. If he had been deeply anxious, he would have called the general himself. Many observers are viewing Musharraf's coup as a major setback for Bush's policy, but in fact it changes almost nothing.

Although the United States has given some $11 billion to Pakistan (mostly in military aid) since 2001, Bush needs Musharraf more than Musharraf needs the United States. The war in Afghanistan is a key reason: A major proportion of the war materiel for the 20,000 U.S. troops, and additional 20,000 NATO troops, in Afghanistan (a landlocked country) goes through Pakistan. U.S., British and Canadian troops on the front lines fighting a Taliban resurgence could be endangered if Pakistan were to cut off the flow of those supplies. On Monday, Rice appeared to back off from earlier warnings to Pakistan that a coup would jeopardize U.S. aid, saying that she doubted cooperation on the war on terror would be affected by Musharraf's actions.

Musharraf, who was brought up in part in Turkey and is representative of the secular stratum of Pakistan's middle class, is the Bush administration's ideal ally. They point to his successes: Musharraf has moved a lot of fundamentalist officers out of positions of power, removing them from any authority over the country's stockpile of nuclear bombs. Under his rule, Pakistani military intelligence has captured nearly 700 al-Qaida operatives in that country, including high-value figures such as Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. And Pakistani cooperation was key in breaking up a plot in summer 2006 by Britons of Pakistani heritage to blow up airplanes flying from London to New York.

But the 1999 interview revealed Bush's true stripes regarding the Pakistani dictator, and his knee-jerk support for authoritarianism over democracy. Bush was criticized then for applauding the overthrow of the democratically elected Nawaz Sharif government in the Oct. 12, 1999, military coup. His spokesperson at the time, Karen Hughes, said that Bush was encouraged by Musharraf's promise that he would hold early elections, restore "stability" to Pakistan, and ease tensions between India and Pakistan. (In fact, Musharraf had been a notorious hawk on India and may in part have carried out the coup because he saw his civilian predecessor as too dovish toward New Delhi.) What the world did not then know was that President Bill Clinton had negotiated a deal not long before with Prime Minister Sharif whereby Pakistan would deploy special operations troops to capture Osama bin Laden. When Musharraf took power in fall of 1999, he refused to honor the deal, since the operation was unpopular with the military's fundamentalist officers. Indeed, Bush was supporting a man who derailed the best chance the Clinton administration may have had to prevent Sept. 11.

Bush went on, of course, to talk a good game as president about democratizing the Middle East, but that never appears to have been more than a cover story for his projection of American power into the region. And now he is standing by Musharraf as the latter dismantles the façade of civil society institutions in Pakistan.

Two crises pushed Musharraf to act. The first was an increasingly assertive Supreme Court, which successfully fought back against the general's attempt to dismiss its chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, last spring. The Supreme Court appears to have been planning to declare Musharraf ineligible to hold the post of president, to which he was recently reelected by Parliament.

The second major crisis was the conflict between Musharraf and Muslim radicals. The United States had pressured him to crack down on the Muslim hard-liners of the northern tribal areas, who the United States alleges gave haven to al-Qaida operatives and protected training camps used to prepare terrorists to strike the West. But the vast, rugged territory had defeated the British Empire's attempts to secure it, and Musharraf was not making better progress. In September 2006, he concluded an accord with the chieftains of the tribal areas, which some saw as a capitulation to the radicals. In spring and summer of 2007, Musharraf was faced with an insurgency in Islamabad's Red Mosque complex, which he crushed with some brutality in July. Although the militants were not popular in most of the country outside the Northwest Frontier Province, where many of the madrassas, or Muslim seminaries, are located that produced the Taliban, no one liked seeing a mosque invaded and seminarians killed (even if the latter were armed and dangerous).

The twin crises reduced Musharraf's legitimacy in Pakistani society to something near zero, and Washington swung into action. Rice called Musharraf repeatedly this summer, urging him to allow exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto -- dismissed for corruption at the end of both of her previous terms (1988-1990 and 1993-1996) -- to return to the country. As a secularist who opposes the Muslim extremists, Bhutto could have hoped to shore up the legitimacy of Musharraf's efforts against them. As the leader of the popular Pakistan People's Party, she has substantial grassroots support. The general eventually acquiesced, and Bhutto returned on Oct. 18, though the massive bombing that greeted her arrival at Karachi brought into question whether she could restore stability.

For the Bush administration to whitewash authoritarian rule as a promise of democracy in Pakistan is nothing new. After Sept. 11, then Secretary of State Colin Powell used a mixture of threats and pledges of aid to force Musharraf to turn on the Taliban in Afghanistan, which had been a pet project of the Pakistani military. In January 2002, Musharraf banned a number of militant Muslim groups whose members had been trained in the Taliban terrorist camps that also produced the Sept. 11 hijackers. America's new ally could hardly show his true face as a mere military dictator, so on April 30, 2002, Musharraf held a referendum on whether he should become "president." Since he was not running against any rival, it was impossible for him to lose this referendum, and voter turnout was low. Bush remained silent about the charade, and a low-level state department official declared it an "internal Pakistani matter."

In fall 2002, Musharraf held stage-managed parliamentary elections, in which he interfered heavy-handedly in the campaigning. He was attempting to throw the election to the only civilian party that supported him, the Pakistan Muslim League Qaid-e Azam (PML-Q), called in Pakistan "the king's party." In fact, Musharraf's maneuvering could not give the PML-Q a majority, since the Pakistan People's Party of the then-exiled Bhutto and the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) of deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif showed some resilience.

What Musharraf's interference did accomplish was to give an opening in the Northwest Frontier Province and Baluchistan for a six-party fundamentalist Muslim coalition, the Islamic Action Council, to take power. The key components of the Islamic Action Council included the Jamaat-i Islami, led by Qazi Hussain Ahmad, and the Clerical Association of Islam of cleric Fazlur Rahman -- who had trained many of the Taliban leaders. The council also took about a fifth of the seats in the national Parliament, an almost unprecedented good showing, since most often the fundamentalist parties got less than 3 percent in Pakistani elections. American pundits ill-informed about Pakistan are tempted to support dictators such as Musharraf because they distrust the Pakistani electorate. But when allowed to participate in relatively free elections, Pakistani voters have usually backed moderate leaders and ignored the fundamentalists.

Musharraf's latest seizure of power shows that little has changed in Pakistan since October 1999. Through thick and thin, Bush has stood by "the general" in Islamabad whose name he at first could not remember, the guarantor of "stability." It is predictable that Washington will go on supporting the dictator, even though Musharraf's doffing of the faux trappings of democracy in Pakistan has pushed the press corps to pose sharper questions than normal to Bush about this apparent hypocrisy.

But Pakistan's military is the linchpin of Bush's policies in Afghanistan and in the no-man's land of tribal Pakistan. Faced with choosing between an ignominious rout in the region from which the Sept. 11 plot was launched, and perhaps even the fall of the Kabul government to a resurgent Taliban, or otherwise having to suffer criticism for hypocritically backing a military dictatorship, Bush will mouth some polite phrases about the prospect of elections in the future (as he did in 1999), and go on providing for Islamabad's military machine. Aside from the cancellation of some ineffectual debates in a weak Pakistani Parliament -- and the end of the illusion that any vestiges of democracy remain -- nothing will change.

11-06-2007, 08:52 AM
Musharraf's chief critic silenced as lawyers continue protests


From Zahid Hussain in Islamabad and Jeremy Page in Karachi

A call to protest by the chief critic of the Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf, was cut short today when the Government shut down the entire mobile telephone network in the capital.

Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhury, the dismissed Chief Justice of Pakistan, who is now under house arrest in Islamabad, used a telephone conference this morning to urge lawyers to demonstrate against the state of emergency imposed by General Musharraf on Saturday.

Mr Chaudhury, a figurehead for the opposition, made the call as the Government met to discuss a schedule for parliamentary elections amid mounting international pressure to lift the emergency.

"I want lawyers to spread my message: the time for sacrifice has come and to stand up for the constitution," he said to cheers from supporters. "There will be no dictatorship." Lawyers outside his home shouted: “Musharraf is a criminal — we will not accept uniforms or bullets!”

The teleconference was cut off after two minutes when the mobile network went dead, but the move failed to prevent lawyers from demonstrating for a second day in several cities.

The worst unrest was in the central city of Multan, where police used batons to disperse about 1,000 lawyers as they tried to leave a court complex to start a street rally.

Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister, was flying from Karachi to Islamabad this afternoon for a meeting with other opposition leaders to discuss whether to join the lawyers’ protests.

The Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy will meet tomorrow morning ahead of a planned rally by Ms Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party in the city of Rawalpindi, next to Islamabad.

Analysts say that General Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, now has little room to manoeuvre as he has lost the support of moderate and Islamist Pakistanis alike - as well as many in the international community. But he is still showing no signs of bowing to the domestic and international pressure to lift the emergency, which has banned public meetings and taken private television networks off the air.

The Government today backed away from comments from the Attorney-General yesterday suggesting that a decision had been made to hold elections, as originally planned, by January 15. Instead, it said it was meeting to discuss the election timetable, repeating General Musharraf’s pledge to stick as closely as possible to the original schedule.

The Government also dismissed international criticism of the emergency, urging its Western allies to be patient.

President Bush led international calls yesterday for General Musharraf to release hundreds of opposition activists, step down as army chief and hold elections as originally scheduled. General Musharraf told foreign ambassadors that he imposed the emergency to stop the judiciary and media impeding his campaign against Islamist militants.

The General has deployed more than 90,000 troops to help fight to al-Qaeda and Taleban militants in northwestern Pakistan since allying himself with the United States after the 9/11 attacks. Pakistan's Interior Ministry said that a record 667 people had been killed and 2,000 injured in "terrorist" attacks this year, including an unprecedented 43 suicide bombings.

Mr Chaudhury, however, said that General Musharraf imposed the emergency because it feared an imminent Supreme Court ruling on the legality of his victory in an October 6 presidential election.

General Musharraf tried to dismiss Mr Chaudhury in March, fearing that the independent-minded judge could thwart his re-election plans, but was forced to re-instate him in July after massive protests by lawyers. Mr Chaudhury was dismissed again on Saturday, along with eight other judges, for refusing to endorse the emergency. The others are also under house arrest, some of them locked inside their own homes.