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.