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Pakistan: State of Emergency Declared by Musharraf

Pakistani President and Army Chief of Staff Pervez Musharraf has declared a State of Emergency in Pakistan. The constitution has been suspended, the Supreme Court Chief Justice removed, private television and radio stations taken off the air, and land-line and cell phone communication has reportedly been interrupted.

BBC's Islamabad correspondent reported that "fears have been growing in the government that the Supreme Court ruling could go against Gen Musharraf." Police are said to have surrounded the Supreme Court and relieved Chief Justice Chaudhry of his duties once again, though Chaudhry had recused himself from among the judges to rule on the legality of Musharraf's latest election.

Pakistan's DAWN newspaper also reported that Benazir Bhutto will not be returning to Pakistan from Dubai due to the state of emergency.

These developments put the United States in an uncomfortable position. On one hand, the United States is the symbol of democracy and is by nature inclined to criticize what could be the suspension of elections under martial law.

Yet, on the other hand, for as much as Musharraf has been criticized (including in this space) for his reluctance to directly and decisively engage the Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists within Pakistani territory, there are no stronger options among those that seek to replace him - only weaker or even Taliban-sympathetic.

There are difficult days ahead in Pakistan for all.

3 Comments

Steve,
Interesting site:
A blue nettle with yellow stars
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Sure seems to me we should have taken out as many Taliban as possible about 3 years ago.
All downhill since then.

Doug, I think that "taking out" the Taliban required that it be an objective. It wasn't. Also, since its been given "shelter" in the tribal areas, and been reconstituted in Afghanistan, I suspect that the Taliban will continue to be a problem.

While the U.S. is now in an "uncomfortable position" as Steve wrote, I see Musharraf being in quite a desperate position.

What is Musharraf Good For?

The U.S. and the West need a new strategy for Pakistan. Exactly a month ago , I suggested what it should be:

What might that new strategy be? If there is no way to get the Pakistani army to be relevant within a meaningful time frame (a reasonable assumption), then the U.S., NATO, and Afghanistan will have to rely on themselves when facing the enemy sanctuaries in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province. Lavish aid now going to Islamabad should be redirected to more useful destinations. The U.S. should tilt even more toward India. And since Pakistan seems to be the headwaters of global terrorist training and coordination, perhaps a travel ban to and from the West is in order.

It is not that the West would be seeking to make an enemy of Pakistan. It’s just that under this notion the West would be bypassing a Pakistani government too weak and too ineffectual to any longer be relevant to the global terrorism problem.

So thank you, General Musharraf, for delivering the circumstance for something the U.S. should have done long ago. It is now up to President Bush, Secretary Rice, and the rest of the U.S. government to follow through.
- Westhawk