Sunday, November 04, 2007

Musharraf - The Dictator Reveals Himself (Much to the Embarrassment of the West)

Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule last night, plunging the nuclear power into crisis and triggering condemnation from leaders around the world.

The action to reassert his flagging authority was, he said, a response to Islamic militancy and to the 'paralysis of government by judicial interference'. He said that his country's sovereignty was at stake.

Judges and lawyers were arrested, troops poured on to city streets and television and radio stations were taken off the air. Musharraf also suspended the constitution and fired the chief justice, Muhammad Iftikhar Chaudhry, who spearheaded a powerful mass movement against him earlier this year.

Last night police arrested opposition politicians and senior lawyers including the chief justice's lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan, and Imran Khan. 'Musharraf is acting like a spoiled child, holding the whole country hostage. These are the last days of Pervez Musharraf,' said Ahsan as he was escorted from his home into a police van. Ahsan, who leads the Supreme Court Bar Association, said that lawyers would launch a series of nationwide protests tomorrow.

Soldiers entered the Supreme Court in the late afternoon where Chaudhry and six other judges said Musharraf's declaration that he would rule under a provisional constitutional order was illegal. Chaudhry was reportedly under house arrest last night.

It is funny to see the establishment finally recognise what many have been saying for a long time. Pervez Musharraf is nothing more than a military dictator. The west was keen to ignore this as long as he played along with their game. However, in the light of the recent uprisings in Burma, his imposition of emergency rule and a brutal assault on the judiciary has meant that the west has no option other than to criticise him. If it were not for this assault, it is fairly likely that Musharraf would have been tolerated. After all, this is not the first time he has closed down independent television stations (that went by with barely a mutter). Now that world politicians are so publicly outraged, one question remains. Why did you tolerate a dictator for so long?