Sunday, November 04, 2007

Phone Call Triggered Pakistani State of Emergency

Phone trigger

The Nation newspaper said a tapped phone call to a friend by Justice Chaudhry had led to the emergency.

The judge told the friend the Supreme Court would hand a verdict against Musharraf in the re-election case, the newspaper said quoting a government source. Chaudhry apparently said eight of the 11 judges were against Musharraf.

EDITORIALS FROM THE PAKISTAN PRESS

‘How will it help war on terror?’

Pakistan’s English language newspapers were unequivocal in criticizing President Pervez Musharraf’s decision to impose Emergency. The Nation called it a “draconian step”, the top selling News referred to it as "Black Saturday," and Dawn termed it a step towards "absolutism." Extracts from editorials:

"So we are back to square one. Back to October 12, 1999. All the gains over the years have gone down the drain. All this talk about the forward thrust towards democracy, about the impending ‘third phase’ of the political process and the lip service to the sanctity of judiciary turned out to be one great deception. The people have been cheated. In a nutshell, one-man rule has been reinforced, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel —- a tunnel that is dark and winding with an end that is perhaps blocked. The reports about emergency rule were denied umpteen times by President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. The denials were bogus. From now on it would simply be a waste of newspaper space and channel time if ever a denial by this government is printed or aired."

"In what way does the proclamation of emergency help in prosecuting the war on terror? Already, the President enjoys all the powers that a ruler could possibly hope to amass. We state emphatically that what has forced General Musharraf to declare emergency are doubts about the outcome of the Supreme Court’s judgment on his right to contest the presidential election. But we ask: can a general who does not enjoy the people’s mandate really carry the nation along and fight the terrorists alone?"
— Dawn Newspapers

'Gen’s gravest error of judgment'

"November 3 will go down as another dark day in Pakistan’s political and constitutional history. It can be safely said that this is one of General Pervez Musharraf’s gravest errors of judgment, and a sorry indication that nothing has been learnt from the mistakes of the past. The imposition of emergency rule and suspension of the 1973 Constitution announced on Saturday is only going to destroy the very institutions that this country crucially needs for evolving into a true democracy, particularly the judiciary, media and parliament. It will further fracture an already weakened federation, alienate those who have grievances against the Centre, such as the Tribal Areas and Balochistan, and push whatever little credibility the government had down a very deep abyss. Such a draconian step will also have little effect on our ability to fight terrorism and extremism. It would be fair to assume that the emergency has been imposed only to target two institutions —- the judiciary and the media —- but it may well have poisonous effects on another: i.e. parliament."
—The News

'Move to have serious consequences'

"General Musharraf has sent the country into a tailspin just to save his job as president by a process which the apex court was widely believed to declare ultra vires. The move came at a time when he was under immense domestic and foreign pressure to expedite the process of the country’s transition to democracy. This government having lost its focus on crucial issues should not ignore the serious consequences of the extra-constitutional measure it has finally resorted to. It needs to understand that despite numerous differences within the opposition ranks it is united on one point, i.e. any measures that are likely to lead to the postponement of the elections, suspension of fundamental rights or emasculation of the courts would be strongly resisted."
—The Nation

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