'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Chaos in Pakistan 

UPDATE: Block out the noise. As far as the US is cocerned, Musharraf can do whatever he wants:

The stakes are high and Defense Secretary Robert Gates is monitoring the fast-developing situation, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

Pakistan is a very important ally in the war on terror and he is closely following the developments there,” Morrell told reporters aboard Gates’ plane as he traveled to China.

The emergency declaration “does not impact our military support of Pakistan” or its efforts in the war on terror, Morrell said of the country that’s a key U.S. partner in the fight against al-Qaida militants.

Neoconservatives and most liberals have been bleating over the last couple of years about the prospect of a genocidal bloodbath in Iraq as a way of justifying the brutalities of the occupation. Have we overlooked the prospect that such a bloodletting could really occur in Pakistan instead because of our decades long support for the Pakistani military, our opposition to any legitimate independent democratic movements and the more recent incorporation of Pakistan into an essential role in the purported "war on terror"?

INITIAL POST: The "war on terror" faces the possible loss of an indispensable ally, an essential linchpin in support of the US presence in the Middle East and Central Asia. US policy has already destabilized Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, and, now, Pakistan, with the attack upon Iran yet to be launched:

President Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on Saturday evening, suspending the constitution and ordering troops to secure key government buildings. President Musharraf appointed Abdul Hameed Dogar as the country`s new Chief Justice after sacking Iftikhar Mohd Chaudhary.

The government dismissed Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhary saying his services were no longer needed. Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has ordered the other judges not to take oath under the new PCO.

All opposition lawmakers have resigned and a caretaker government will take over after seven days. The Senate, Cabinet, all assemblies and state governments will continue to function normally. Assembly elections are scheduled to be held on the 15th of January 2008.

It is believed that an eight-member bench had termed the decision to impose emergency as illegal and declared it null and void.

Reports suggest that the decision may have been provoked by an adverse judgement by the Supreme Court against Musharraf. It is suggested that a written judgement that invalidated Musharraf’s eligibility to run for the post of President was signed and ready.

This would have forced Musharraf to step down as President and make a way for another candidate thereby ending his tenure at the helm of affairs.

"The Chief of the Army Staff (Musharraf) has proclaimed state of emergency and issued provisional constitutional order (PCO)," a brief announcement on the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV) said at 6.10 pm Pakistan time without giving any details. All private news channels were immediately taken off the air.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry was removed from his post and troops took control of the Supreme Court.

All 13 Supreme Court judges have been asked to take fresh oath under the PCO but eight of them, including the Chief Justice, were taken into custody after they termed as unconstitutional the declaration of a state of emergency. Iftikhar Chaudhry is supposed to have been put into ‘protective’ confinement.

Iran increasingly looks like a safe harbor of stability in comparison to the turbulence that is inextricably interwoven with the US presence nearby. But, for now, there are more pressing questions, such as, how long before Musharraf is assassinated? Or, will we awaken one day soon to discover that he has taken sanctuary in Costa Rica?

It is hard to imagine that he will be alive at this time next year if he remains in Pakistan. And, then, there are those nuclear weapons. Is it possible that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto will get his revenge upon the US from beyond the grave? As Tariq Ali recently explained:

Benazir Bhutto’s father was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the founder of the Pakistan People’s Party, a party which was originally founded because in the late ’60s, in November ’68, you had a giant movement against the military, a insurrection, which carried on for three whole months, uniting workers and students and peasants. Many of the students were killed. But, finally, the movement was triumphant, and the dictator was overthrown, and the country had to have its first general election.

And the politician who won in what is now Pakistan was Benazir’s dad, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who pledged—his big slogan was food, clothing and shelter for the poor, massive social reforms, massive land reforms. He could have changed the face of Pakistan, had he so wanted, because the military was completely weak by then. But, in fact, he pledged all these things and did nothing. And so, when the military captured him, Henry Kissinger said to him, “Unless you desist on the nuclear question, we’re going to make a horrible example out of you.” And he didn’t, and so they made a horrible example out of him. He was executed.

Apparently, his play, The Leopard and the Fox, has a contemporary resonance that we could have never anticipated.

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