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.