This morning, I was sleeping as Amber told me that a state of emergency had been imposed in Pakistan. I wasn’t surprised since something was expected after the situation had deteriorated in Swat in addition to Waziristan. However, when I woke up and switched on Geo TV, I realized that what had happened was more like a martial law than a state of emergency. According to All Things Pakistan, the government-owned PTV announced:
The chief of army staff has proclaimed a state of emergency and issued a provisional constitutional order.
According to the emergency proclamation,
And whereas the situation has been reviewed in meetings with the Prime Minister, governors of all Provinces, and with chairman joint chiefs of staff committee, chiefs of the armed forces, vice-chief of army Staff and corps commanders of the Pakistan army;Now, therefore, in pursuance of the deliberations and decisions of the said meetings, I, General Pervez Musharraf, Chief of the Army Staff, proclaim emergency throughout Pakistan.
I hereby order and proclaim that the constitution of the Islamic republic of Pakistan shall remain in abeyance.
So the constitution is no more and the so-called emergency has been imposed by the Chief of Army Staff and not the President as defined by the constitution’s emergency provisions. The text of the provisional constitutional order is available here. Whatever might be said, this is Martial Law, not an emergency.
Musharraf has given extremism as the main reason for his second coup, but the reality is that the Supreme Court was likely to rule against Musharraf’s election in the next few days.
Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf has defended his decision to declare emergency rule, saying he could not allow the country to commit suicide.
In a televised address he said Pakistan had reached a crisis brought about by militant violence and a judiciary which had paralysed the government.
The chief justice has been replaced and the Supreme Court surrounded by troops.
The moves came as the Supreme Court was due to rule on the legality of Gen Musharraf’s October election victory.
The court was to decide whether Gen Musharraf was eligible to run for re-election last month while remaining army chief.
The BBC’s Barbara Plett reports from Islamabad that fears had been growing in the government that the Supreme Court ruling could go against Gen Musharraf.
The year 2007 has been very bad for Pakistan. In March, Musharraf tried to dismiss the Chief Justice and the lawyers came out against the highhandedness of the government, finally forcing Musharraf to let the Supreme Court reinstate the Chief Justice.
In July, there was the action against Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) in Islamabad after the extremist clerics there were given a free hand for months and as a result hundreds were killed. At the time, Amber called it the beginning of the end for Pakistan and to keep an eye on the rapidly deteriorating situation in Pakistan, we decided to subscribe to Geo TV. As it turned out, events spiraled out of control faster than we had thought possible. As Eteraz writes:
Musharraf’s act comes at a time when Pakistan has almost 100,000 troops in the Waziristan region, battling the Taliban. Meanwhile, the country is being hit by almost daily suicide bombings (since July, more than 450 people have been killed by terrorists). Islamist militants recently ambushed and held 250 solders hostage, and another 48 soldiers were paraded as a trophy by a Taliban commander.
Also, something like a war started recently in Swat.
Taleban fighters in Pakistan’s northern district of Swat have paraded 48 paramilitary troops they captured in fighting this week.
The soldiers said they surrendered when their positions on a hilltop were surrounded by armed militants.
More than 2,500 paramilitary troops were sent to Swat last week as fighting in the area worsened.
Nearly 300 soldiers are still being held prisoner further south in the Waziristan tribal region.
The militants in Swat want the imposition of Sharia law.
With suicide bombings occurring everywhere and FATA and Swat in open rebellion by extremists, Pakistan was in a precarious situation. Since Musharraf has been the dictator for 8 years, he must share some of the blame for the situation getting this bad. However, if he wanted to tackle it, he could have proclaimed a constitutional state of emergency which does contain provisions to suspend fundamental rights. But it did not allow him to get rid of the Supreme Court and the High Courts as Musharraf has done. The only reason of doing so is to save his own power.
And that brings us to “I told you so.” On October 12, 1999, I told everyone who would listen that Musharraf was not taking over for the sake of Pakistan or for saving the country from the corrupt politicians like Nawaz Sharif or Benazir Bhutto. He did not act when the country was in peril, but when his own position as Army Chief was threatened. I have always considered him a power-hungry army general in the mold of General Ziaul Haq.
Ziaul Haq sowed the seeds of Pakistan’s current troubles with his Islamization and jihadi policies and today Musharraf is reaping its rewards and acting like Zia II. Having grown up in Zia’s Pakistan and now watching Musharraf’s Pakistan from afar, both these generals look to be the worst nightmare for Pakistan.
I agree with Chapati Mystery here.
Next up? Martial Law. More bombings. And the eventual drain of all that capital that had accumulated in the country in the past 8 years. Zimbabwe, here we come. Unless, US and China can come to their senses and do some actual diplomacy. The status is bleak. Let us say that Musharraf resigns and leaves. The Supreme Court declares an election date, the new government solves the Baluchistan issue, th US redeploys significant troops to Afghanistan (and keeps them there), the Pakistani military combats within cities and mountains of Pakistan. War. Chaos. Uncertainty. And this, my gentle readers, would be the best case scenario. A more likely option is a military state somewhere between Mugabe’s Zimbabwe circa 2005 and Gandhi’s India circa 1976.
However, if I have to give my prediction, my guess is that the army will stay in power for a long time now, but Musharraf’s days are numbered.