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.