November 04, 2007

State of emergency: Martial law or justifyable security concern?

In previous weeks, I had examined the incident of former Prime Minister Benzir Bhutto’s convoy bombing. This week a new development has occurred in Pakistan, compelling me to revisit the issue. President Musharraf recently declared a state of emergency. In doing so, justices were temporarily kept in the judiciary building, television and radio stations were taken over my paramilitaries, telephone lines to the capital, Islamabad, were cut, and the constitution was suspended. Traditionally, I would have researched this topic from main media outlets. This week I decided to take a different approach. In an attempt to take the “pulse” of bloggers and to examine the opinions and perspectives of non-mainstream media, I decided to venture outside of the confines of BBC and CNN and explore the relatively unpredicted blogosphere. It seemed as though everyone had an opinion about Musharaff's declaration of emergency. Among the many blogs that I read, I found two that seemed to give the full picture. The first blog was written by a conglomeration of writers who originally created their blog to explore America’s “fraudulent monetary system” but has evolved into “a quest for truth for all aspects of human behavior”. The second blog is also written by a loose collaboration of writers, who write in a style wholly informal, with a strong underground feeling, despite this they are quite informed and seem to be a very educated group. Each writer has a pseudonym which further emphasizes its intellectual underground tone.

Musharraf Imposes Emergency Rule to Stay in Power:
I enjoyed your post. I thought it was timely and definitely an important issue in the international sphere. You referenced a variety of news sources which gave your entry more authority and further emphasized the importance of the issue by demonstrating that it is an issue that has invaded the airwaves so to speak. You mentioned several different aspects of the declaration of a state of emergency. Such things as: supreme court chief justice Chaudhry (seen below) being relieved of his duties, barring judges inside the judiciary building, paramilitaries taking over TV and radio stations, telephone lines being cut in the capital, and Bhutto returning from Dubai shortly after hearing the news. All these components together definitely make for the imposition of martial law, which you stated through a quote by Talat Massoud “He has now resorted to emergency which will mean human rights will be suspended and there will be further attempts to intimidate the judiciary”. While there are obvious political consequences, I had hoped you would elaborate and give your thoughts on the matter. If this military rule becomes overtly oppressive, what will be the response of the United States? Should they protect an authoritarian leader who happens to be an ally in the war on terror, or should they turn their back on their ally and ensure that democratic elections take place in January? I also would have liked to see your thoughts on the possible contagion effect this could have on the region, especially Kashmir and their not so stable relationship with India.

Pakistani Powder Keg:
I agree that Pakistan has become a ticking time bomb throughout the course of the past couple of weeks. With the bombing of former Prime Minister Bhutto’s convoy, the tentative back stage deal that the United States brokered for a power sharing government, and Musharraf’s growing unpopularity due to his alliance with the US in the war on terror. I was very interested on your theory of the timing of the declaration of the state of emergency. I hadn’t taken into consideration the effect that Bhutto could have as an opposition force to Musharraf. Since Musharraf had pardoned her previous crimes of supposed embezzlement, Musharraf would need an alternate reason for her detainment or deportment. You briefly mentioned your speculations as to whether or not the Pakistani army would be able to “hold firm in a protracted fight against Islamist rebels, as the military's morale has already been questioned”. I had hoped you would have elaborated on that point. What was your source for that information? Why has troop morale decreased? You also mentioned that Pakistani leaders had made it clear to Musharraf that if he continued this state of emergency the United States would be obligated to decline their investment in the Pakistani armed forces. This issue has the potential to plunge the entire state into civil war, my only hope, which I’m sure you share with me, is that this conflict does not spread to neighboring areas.
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