Tag Archives: Bhutto

I Am The Law, Claims Musharraf

President Pervez Musharraf made clear to American newspapers and TV that he will not back down in the fight which has erupted between himself and Pakistan political activists. He told the New York Times that opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, could not tell him to resign and classified activists as lazy people who don’t even bother to vote. He told an American TV interviewer that “When the nation is about to be declared a failed state, tell me whether the restoration of so-called democracy is important or efforts to save the country? Of course, it is important to save the country.” In other words, is democracy more important than survival of the nation of Pakistan? As he spoke, a 100 car caravan of Bhutto supporters took off from Lahore on the opening stages of a long march for freedom. Ms. Bhutto is still confined to house arrest and when supporters attempt to visit her, they are being arrested.

President Musharraf certainly raises a key issue — which comes first, democracy or survival of a nation? However, he fails to note present problems in Pakistan occurred on his watch as president so some responsibility for it being termed a “failed state” must rest on his shoulders. Ms. Bhutto, and other political opponents, are justifiably asking whether or not Pakistan can become a functioning state only after getting rid of Musharraf. Perhaps, the emerging grand alliance of political parties covering a spectrum of views may become the coalition which can institute reforms that make Pakistan a functioning nation. The current crisis undoubtedly raises new issues for President Bush regarding aims of American foreign policy in Pakistan and Asia.

Bhutto Defies Musharraf In Pakistan!

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto said that under no conditions would she serve in a future government containing President Musharraf as its leader. “I simply won’t be able to believe anything he says.” She indicated her Pakistan People’s Party would not participate in the upcoming January elections because they are “nothing more than a stage-managed show to return the PML(Pakistan Muslin League) to power.” The PML is the party of Musharraf. Even as she spoke, her supporters were opening fire in Karachi on police stations while another group was beginning the march that Musharraf had refused to allow her to lead. Ms. Bhutto said she would reach out to all opposition parties in Pakistan in order to form a new coalition of political groups that are committed to establishment of a democratic Pakistan government. She already is in the process of contacting Nawaz Sharif, a main political opponent, in order to secure his support for the new coalition.

Ironically, Musharraf has so fouled up the situation in Pakistan that inadvertently the president is creating a coalition of formerly disparate groups who are now ready to come together in the name of democracy. This could not have happened without the bumbling authoritarianism of Musharraf. Hopefully, America will avoid any stupid actions such as attempting to safeguard nuclear facilities and allow the new Bhutto coalition a chance to organize Pakistan.

Bhutto Back Under House Arrest In Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto was given a seven day restraining order to stop from leading a mass rally to demand an end to the state of emergency. She was also placed l;under house arrest on Monday evening. There are reports over 200 police and army personnel are surrounding the home of Seantor Latif Khousa where Ms. Bhutto was visiting when the order came for her to abandon any thought of marching. “She,” said Minister of Information, Tariq Azim, “will not be allowed to break the law, hence, there will be no long march.” There are reports the Taliban has sent suicide bombers to Lahore to kill Ms. Bhutto. Former prime minister Bhutto has now made clear she no longer is interested in any power sharing arrangement with President Musharraf.

The Pakistan situation continues to crumble. Reports are circulating that America is planning some type of operation that would result in safe guarding Pakistan nuclear facilities against seizure by Islamic groups. The Pakistan government insists those facilities are well guarded.

Musharraf Empowers Military Courts To Try Civilians

The Musharraf government has amended the Army Act of 1952 in order to allow military courts to try civilians on charges ranging from treason to endangering the security of the nation. At present, there are thousands of civilians in jail because they attempted to protest the increasingly dictatorial rule of Musharraf. Prior to the change, civilians could only be placed on trial in a military court if one of the defendants was a member of the armed forces. The opposition to the state of emergency is widening as Nawaz Sharif, leader of the Muslim League pledged support to Benazir Bhutto’s proposal for a march for freedom. Previously, he had been an opponent of the Pakistan People Party’s leader.

There is no doubt President Mushharraf has done more to unite the people of Pakistan than any previous ruler of the nation. His heavy handed approach to governing is bringing previously divided groups together in an effort to bring democracy to the country. Ironically, militants are growing in power and it has nothing to do with civilian protests, yesterday a captain and five soldiers were halted at militant checkpoints in the northwest and taken hostage. While Musharraf is harassing civilians, the militants are now establishing check points where they tell the armed forces whether or not they can travel. Oh, by the way, three reporters for the British Daily Telegraph were ejected from Pakistan for using a vulgarity in their description of dictator Musharraf.

Bhutto-Under House Arrest For Her Protection

Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party has been placed under confinement to her house according to Pakistan police for her own safety since there are reports terrorists intend to kill her if she appears before a public rally. Police Superintendent Aftab Nasir commented: “Only the general public do not have an access to her and it is for her security.” The Musharraf government has indicated it will not allow Bhutto’s planned march in protest against the state of emergency. The secretary general of the National Party has been arrested and may be charged with treason for daring to make speeches denouncing Musharraf.

The Musharraf government is playing Orwellian games with keeping Bhutto confined to her home, but claiming it is not a house arrest, but simply a way to protect her against terrorists. Hundreds of lawyers are still in jail, there are restrictions on the media, and Musharraf somehow is claiming this is all being done in the name of democracy and an end to terrorism. It is amazing how the new “Bush Doctrine” of using the fear of terrorism to stifle free speech has spread throughout the world. Fortunately, the people of Pakistan and their intellectual elite know the real meaning of Musharraf–maintain power at all costs. One can only wonder if George Bush would behave in this manner — if he could get away with it.

Benazir Bhutto’s Long March To Power In Pakistan

Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party urged defiance toward President Musharraf over his imposition of martial law on the country. “The ball is now in the government’s court,” she said. “If General Musharraf wants to open the door for negotiations, he must restore the Constitution, retire as chair of army staff, and stick to the schedule of holding elections.” Even as she spoke with reporters, members of her party who were demonstrating outside of parliament were baton-charged and gassed by the police and military. Bhutto emphasized the importance of dealing with the crisis caused by Musharraf’s firing of judges who opposed him. “After the Constitution is restored,all judges will automatically be restored.” She insisted the Musharraf government must release imprisoned lawyers, judges and political activists. Ms. Bhutto asked members of all political parties to join with her on a long march on November 13 from Lahore to the nation’s capital where they will confront Musharraf.

The situation in Pakistan is now chaotic, but some good may emerge. Benazir Bhutto has emerged as a hero to many for her brave stand in support of constitutional government. This will assist her efforts to gain wide support in the population for new directions in the fight to deal with militant elements who increasingly are strong in northwest Pakistan. Bhutto must also end her prior involvement in graft and corruption which so damaged her ability to govern. Family members must be banned from government positions if Pakistan is to move forward.

Arrests Sweep Across Pakistan!

The Pakistan daily, Dawn, termed President’s action of imposing a state of emergency “Musharraf’s Second Coup,” while the Daily Times said “It Is Martial Law.” Police and military fanned out across Pakistan to arrest opposition leaders and set up barriers to prevent entry into the Supreme Court or parliament. Hsma Jehagir, chair of Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission was arrested as were several key political opponents. Twelve of Pakistan’s Supreme Court members were sacked when they refused to go along with the state of emergency which they claim was unconstitutional. Benazir Bhutto returned to Karachi from her campaign and claimed Musharraf’s actions were “the blackest day in Pakistan’s history,” and that “the extremists need dictatorship and dictators need extremists.”

Benazir Bhutto Leaves Pakistan As Rumors Circulate Of Martial Law

Two weeks after returning to Pakistan from her exile, opposition leader Benazir Bhutto left the country for Dubai to see family members as rumors circulated that President Musharraf might declare marital law. A few days ago Bhutto had insisted she lacked time to leave the country due to her political campaign. The Pakistan Supreme Court will shortly rule on whether or not to overturn Musharraf’s recent election to the presidency. The country is also being consumed by a new outbreak of Islamic militant attacks. A recent suicide attack on an air force bus killed eight and left dozens wounded. Security forces countered the attack with a bloody assault on insurgents that resulted in the death of at least sixty in the mountains of northwest Pakistan. For each attack by security forces, there are counter attacks by militants. In the meantime, the nation awaits anxiously the Supreme Court’s decision on the presidential election. If they over turn Musharraf’s victory there is a strong possibility he will counter with martial law and proceed to maintain power.

Musharraf has been a factor in creating the current crisis. He refused to step down as president and allow a democratic election which would have affirmed the issue of civilian leadership. His response of ongoing military action will hardly end fighting in the mountains of Pakistan whose people have fought off foreign invasions for hundreds of years.

Pakistan Suicide Bomber Misses Musharraf

Pakistan police halted a suicide bomber less than a quarter of a mile from where President Musharraf was staying. As they approached the man, he panicked and tried running away, but when police got closer, he blew himself up. At least 8 were killed and 40 wounded, including police, women and children. Last week, Pakistan troops attacked a stronghold of a radical cleric in the northwestern district o Swat that resulted in at least a hundred being killed. President Musharraf is now living with the results of Pakistan policies for over a decade to support the Taliban in Afghanistan and encourage radical Islamic elements all over Asia. No doubt it is much easier initiating violence than turning off the spigot of bombing and death.

Benazir Bhutto vowed to continue her campaign to regain the position of prime minister despite suicide attacks upon her by Islamic radicals. Sh insists a “democratic government is better equipped” to fight extremism than a semi-dictatorship such as that of Musharraf. One can only hope she is correct.

Violence Continues In Pakistan

The attempted assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto is apparently just one story in a never ending violence which is enveloping Pakistant. While Pakistani security forces attacked a cleric’s stronghold, nearby insurgents kidnapped eight police from a bus. About 2,500 soldiers took part in the assault on cleric Maulana Faziullah’s stronghold which is one of many such encampments where insurgents are trained to conduct attacks on Pakistan soldiers and society. Residents observed security forces firing rocket propelled grenades, mortars, and other weapons at the cleric’s forces. Militants carried out the ambush of the soldiers and fired on a helicopter carrying a general. Yesterday, a suicide car bomber hit a truck carrying troops and killed 19 soldiers and wounded 35.

The violence continues unabated in Pakistan raising fears if the present Musharraf-Bhutto alliance is capable of restoring some semblance of law and order to the nation. Benazir Bhutto claims to represent the moderate middle ground in Pakistan that wants democracy and a government capable of stimulating the economy and providing work opportunities for the masses. In her previous shot at being prime minister, Bhutto used the office to help family and friends accumulate millions of dollars through corruption. Has she learned anything during her exile? Is she capable of creating a government of the people and for the people?