Saturday, November 3, 2007

In Pakistan, Musharaff declares emergency

The fragility of political institutions in Pakistan were exposed Saturday when the army-backed government of President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency, according to this report in USA Today.

Musharraf has declared the emergency ahead of a decision of the Supreme Court in Pakistan to a petition challenging his re-election as President, while keeping the post of chief-of-army staff.
The decision was expected to go against him.

Under President’s rule, the Supreme Court and most of the opposition will no doubt be placed under curbs, thus proving the fragility of Pakistan’s political institutions in the face of an army that will not cede control.

Earlier the US, in a bid to keep Musharraf in power, tried to broker a deal with a former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. The former prime minister, who had returned to Pakistan to a tumultuous public welcome, is back in Dubai, probably apprehending the new state of emergency.

The army has played a huge role in the country’s politics, and has often deposed democratically elected governments that are not pliant. Musharraf deposed the government of Nawaz Sharif to come to power. Musharraf is facing civil unrest in the country, including demands that he step down. While he may try to say that that the emergency was declared to contain terrorism in the country’s north western frontier region, this is largely seen as a bid to cling to power.

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