It's beginning to look like Mushraff of Pakistan is making preparations to renege on his promise to step down as military chief when he is given his rubber-stamp re-election as President. This morning, I noted reports that he had placed loyalists in key army and intelligence agency positions. Now he is arresting his political opponents.
Police swept the Pakistani capital on Saturday to arrest the leaders of opposition parties vowing to obstruct President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's re-election bid, officials said.Not good. Mushraff originally promised to take off his uniform before his re-election this time around - then changed his story to say he would step down after the election. Now it seems to me that he's ready to go back on his latest promise too.
Security officials said police in Islamabad had orders to take some 35 opposition leaders into preventive custody - many of them linked to the prime minister overthrown by Musharraf or a coalition of Islamist parties opposed to the president's alliance with the United States.
Police served a warrant on Javed Hashmi, acting president of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim league-N, at an apartment complex for lawmakers in the government district. The warrant said he would be jailed for 30 days to stop him from making inflammatory speeches at protests where ``miscreants'' could ``cause disruption and acts of sabotage and terrorism.''
Hashmi, who was not immediately led away, said Musharraf's Western backers should press the military-led government to uphold the same democratic standards that they enjoy.
``They are ruling the country with the gun in hand,'' Hashmi told an Associated Press reporter at his apartment, where four armed police stood guard outside. ``They think that the (military) uniform, not the people of Pakistan, are the source of power.''
And I fully expect that if he does, the U.S. will go right on supporting him, making a sad joke yet again out of rhetoric about spreading democracy.