More this morning on the unrest in Pakistan which began with a "revolt of the lawyers" when military dictator General Musharaff had his own Chief Jutice placed under temporary house arrest in a blatant attempt to replace someone he believes will not support the constitutional sidestep that will allow Musharaff five more years of power.
Violent clashes erupted in the Pakistani capital Islamabad Friday as riot police fought off protestors near the Supreme Court where the country's suspended top judge was facing allegations of misuse of authority.Mushraff has also attempted to shut down media coverage of protests:
Police in the Pakistani capital Islamabad on Friday used tear gas to clear the offices of the private Geo news channel as it broadcast live footage of clashes with protesters. Windows were smashed in the lobby as officers tried to interrupt transmission of violent scenes near the Supreme Court, where suspended chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry stood before a panel of judges over allegations of misuse of office.The British media, with a far larger ex-pat Pakistani community in the UK, has done much of the running on this story - so far it really isn't on the American radar in a big way. The UK's Financial Times today covers the story with a reasonable overview of what's going on and its possible fallout, quoting one Pakistani lawyer as saying “It’s an emerging situation, which can take down anyone, including Musharraf.” It also points out that the absence of secular democratic leaders (the strongest two secular parties are basically in exile) is handing the field of protest against Musharaff and the military's dictatorship to Islamist groups by default.
Religious radicalism is spreading so rapidly that there is little time left to save Pakistan's moderate political parties and institutions such as the Supreme Court that are central to the functioning of any future democracy. "It's hard to know how long the Americans will keep on pretending that Musharraf is their man," says a European diplomat. "If protests against Musharraf intensify, our American friends may have to look for other men on the ground."It's a situation where the Bush administration is willingly going against its supposed belief in democratic freedom, a hypocrisy that hasn't escaped some observers.
All of which leaves the folks at Crooked Timber wondering why they "haven't seen much coverage in either US newspapers or the blogosphere of the developing crisis in Pakistan." Uh, over here guys?
And while you're wondering what might happen next, remember that Musharaff controls the military, that the military lives by it's animosity towards India and that one of the favorite distractions dictators use for a discontented populace is a war against a neighbour. The dangers here are greater than just the possibility of a nuclear-armed Islamist state where the intelligence agency has direct control of several terrorist groups - although that's danger enough.
Update Swaraaj Chauhan over at The Moderate Voice has more, including this jaw-dropping bit of reality denial from State Department spokesman Sean McCormack:
“It is essential for any developing democracy to adhere to the rule of law and conduct any investigations … in a clear, above-board, transparent manner that strictly accords with Pakistan’s laws,”Musharaff is a military dictator you maroon! A "developing democracy" is what Pakistan used to have.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Posted by Cernig at 3/16/2007 08:47:00 AM