Pakstan Chief of Army Staff(COAS), General Ashfaq Kayani, affirmed the military’s commitment to be neutral in current disputes in his nation. He emphasized “any kind of schism, at any level, under the circumstances would not be in the larger interest of the nation” and hoped political parties and the armed forces can respect one another. He insisted the “army stands behind the democratic process and is committed to play its constitutional role in support of the elected government.” Kayani also wanted to make clear the army was not distancing itself from President Musharraf, but simply staying clear of any involvment in the political processes which now are underway in Pakistan. This is a healthy sign for democracy in Pakistan since in the past the armed forces have too frequently interjected themselves and thus halted development of the political process.
In the meantime a crowd of 2,000 lawyers marched through the streets of the capital demanding all political parties agree to the restoration of judges who were removed from office by President Musharraf. Along the way, they halted to express anger at publication of Danish cartoons and the soon to appear Dutch film that allegedly is against the Koran. There is something ironic about lawyers expressing anger at free expression while they are marching to protest free expression of views by judges.