Musharraf defends emergency rule
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.
It is not clear whether the parliamentary elections due in January will go ahead. Gen Musharraf made no mention of them in his speech, but he insisted he wanted to restore democracy.
Pakistan has been engulfed in political upheaval in recent months, and the security forces have suffered a series of blows from pro-Taleban militants opposed to Gen Musharraf's support for the US-led "war on terror".
In a lengthy televised speech late on Saturday, Mr Musharraf said the situation had forced him into making "some very painful decisions".
"I suspect that Pakistan's sovereignty is in danger unless timely action is taken," he said.
He insisted his decisions were made for the benefit of Pakistan.
"Extremists are roaming around freely in the country, and they are not scared of law-enforcement agencies," the president said.
As well as defending emergency rule to the Pakistani people, Gen Musharraf also appealed directly to his Western allies for patience.
"Kindly understand the criticality of the situation in Pakistan and around Pakistan. Pakistan is on the verge of destabilisation," he said.
"Inaction at this moment is suicide for Pakistan and I cannot allow this country to commit suicide."
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who recently returned to the country after years of self-exile to lead her party in planned parliamentary elections, was in Dubai on a personal visit when news of the declaration broke.
However, she immediately flew back to Karachi where she condemned Gen Musharraf's decision, saying emergency rule had been imposed so elections could be avoided.
"We the political parties are calling for the restoration of the constitution, and for the holding of the elections under an independent election commission," she told the BBC.
She said the international community should use its influence with Gen Musharraf to "press him on the restoration of the constitution, the reinstatement of the judges and the release of the political prisoners".
Another politician, former cricketer Imran Khan, said he had been placed under house arrest.
He blamed the increasing extremism in Pakistan on Gen Musharraf, saying: "When you stop all legal and constitutional ways of people challenging [the president], then the only ones who challenge him are people with a gun".
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the declaration of emergency rule was "highly regrettable" and called upon Pakistan to have free and fair elections.
UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband also expressed concern, saying it was vital Pakistan's government "abides by the commitment to hold free and fair elections on schedule".
New chief justice
Gen Musharraf's address echoed the text of the declaration of emergency rule, which opens with a reference to the "grave threat" posed by the "visible ascendancy in the activities of extremists and incidents of terrorist attacks".
It ends by saying that the constitution is in "abeyance" - which, according to our correspondent, in effect means that martial law has been imposed, although there is not a heavy security presence on the streets.
The political and judicial core of Islamabad has been shut down, but the rest of the city is functioning normally, our correspondent says.
Shortly after emergency rule was declared, all private news channels were taken off the air and tough restrictions have been imposed on the media.
Statements that defame Gen Musharraf, the military or the government are prohibited and statements or pictures from Islamist militants are banned from broadcast or publication.
Our correspondent says it is clear from reading the emergency proclamation that the main target is the judiciary which is accused of interfering in government policy and weakening the struggle against terrorism.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and eight other judges refused to endorse the emergency order, declaring it unconstitutional, resulting in Mr Chaudhry's dismissal.
A new chief justice has been appointed, officials say. He is Supreme Court judge Abdul Hameed Dogar, a supporter of Gen Musharraf who was a member of the special tribunal appointed to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by Mr Chaudhry.
Ms Bhutto's return from self-imposed exile last month came about with the co-operation of Gen Musharraf.
Our correspondent says that in the changed circumstances she will have to decide whether she is returning to lead the opposition against the president, or should wait on the sidelines in the hopes of securing an agreement with him.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/11/03 22:21:13 GMT
December 28, 2007
PAKISTANI opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed yesterday in a suicide bombing and shooting attack after she had addressed a rally in Rawalpindi.
"At 6.16pm she expired," a member of Mrs Bhutto's party, who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital, said early today Melbourne time. Police said a suicide bomber fired shots at Mrs Bhutto, 54, as she was leaving the rally venue in a park before blowing himself up.
"The man first fired at Bhutto's vehicle," police officer Mohammad Shahid said. "She ducked and then he blew himself up." Police officials confirmed Mrs Bhutto was shot in the neck by her attacker before he blew himself up.
December 28, 2007 - 1:14AM
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WORLD leaders have condemned the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and warned that extremists must not be allowed to destabilise the country ahead of next month's vote.
Governments worldwide urged Pakistani leaders to work to maintain calm, as President Pervez Musharraf appealed to the nation to remain peaceful "so that the evil designs of terrorists can be defeated," state TV said.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov warned of the attack's possible repercussions.
"It will probably unleash a wave of terrorism," Losyukov was quoted by ITAR-TASS news agency as saying.
"We think this is a dangerous development that will add to the instability ahead of elections in Pakistan," he said.
The White House, treading a delicate line in its dealings with Pakistan, a key ally in its war on terror, condemned the "acts of violence".
Deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the attack "shows that there are people out there who are trying to disrupt the building of democracy in Pakistan".
President George W. Bush was due to make a statement later.
In Pakistan's neighbours, Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukehrjee expressed "shock and horror" at the assassination, which occurred at a campaign rally in Rawalpindi ahead of next month's parliamentary elections.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the murder was an act of "immense brutality" by the "enemies" of Pakistan and of peace.
Mrs Bhutto was shot in the neck by her attacker before he blew himself up in a suicide attack outside the campaign rally, police officials confirmed.
She succumbed to her injuries in hospital but it was not immediately known if it was the gunshot wound that killed her.
The European Commission called the killing "an attack against democracy and against Pakistan".
"We hope that Pakistan will remain firmly on track for a return to democratic civilian rule," Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a statement.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he was "deeply shocked" by Mrs Bhutto's death and called for "restraint but also unity".
"In targeting Benazir Bhutto extremist groups have in their sights all those committed to democratic processes in Pakistan," he said.
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi condemned the "fanaticism" that caused the attack and called for "the difficult path to peace" to continue.
The UN Security Council was to meet in emergency session later today to discuss the situation, a UN spokeswoman said.
Wall Street stocks fell on Thursday after Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's opposition leader, was killed in a gun and bomb attack leading to a flight to safety in US markets.
News of her death prompted safe-haven buying in US treasuries. Gold hit a fresh one-month high amid fears of heightened geopolitical tension in the region while crude oil futures also rose after the news.
The male Muslim religious extremists will fight to the death to prevent a leader being elected who was born without a penis.
have a seat Finn... I couldn't agree more and I share your concern.... the establishment of anarchy and chaos is exactly what these guys are about.....
'The nightmare scenario'
Posted By Ian Elliot Whig-Standard Staff Writer
Posted 9 hours ago
A former Canadian high commissioner to Pakistan sees little or no light at the end of the tunnel in which that country now finds itself.
Louis Delvoie, who was posted to Pakistan between 1991 and 1994 and who is now a senior fellow at Queen's Centre for International Relations, says that following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto last week, the country faces an uncertain future, and none of the possible outcomes are likely to lead to a stable democracy.
And he says the worst possible option for Pakistan and the rest of the world - an overthrow of the government of Pervez Musharraf by Islamic military officers - is possible.
"I call that the nightmare scenario," said Delvoie in an interview yesterday.
"An Islamist military government with nuclear weapons."
Such a state would act as a magnet for other Islamic militants as it could offer them protection and the ability to plan terrorist acts freely, in much the same way Afghanistan functioned under Taliban rule, he said, although he doubted that the country's nuclear arsenal would fall into the hands of terrorists.
"I have never been terribly enamoured of this idea of a terrorist group obtaining nuclear weapons," said Delvoie, who was working in the federal government's arms control and disarmament division in 1974 when Pakistan's neighbour India detonated its first nuclear bomb.
He noted the rockets needed to deliver the bombs are tremendously sophisticated devices beyond the capability of any individual terrorist group to successfully operate, and other methods of moving the bombs to a target are unlikely.
"You always hear about a KGB agent with a bomb in a suitcase, but the fact is through all the decades of the Cold War, it didn't happen."
The country could also become a failed state like Afghanistan, wracked by religious and civil conflict, or at best could continue with a weak and corruption-prone civilian government.
Corruption is one of Pakistan's major problems, and always has been - Bhutto's own government was tainted by it and her husband was nicknamed "Mr. Ten Per Cent" for the kickback he demanded for being an intermediary in business deals involving the government.
"There is a corruption culture in Pakistan, and people there have learned it with their mother's milk," he said, noting many low-paid civil servants could not survive on their meagre salaries.
The country also has essentially a ruling caste of about 2,000 families, many wealthy landholders, who rely on a rural and largely uneducated workforce that is susceptible to religious and social agitators.
That does not make for a stable society and its effects could be seen in the rioting that broke out across the country immediately after Bhutto's death.
"Pakistan has educated and sophisticated elites but it is still a vastly undereducated country," he said, comparing it to India, which was created at the same time and which has a much higher level of education.
Delvoie knew Bhutto as the opposition leader during his time as high commissioner and still has an autographed photo of her on his bookcase.
He noted that politics in Pakistan was not for the faint of heart and violence had already made its mark on Bhutto's life - her father was executed and her two brothers were assassinated under mysterious circumstances.
He is still fascinated by the country but says it has never lived up to the promise it had when it was created by the partition of India by Britain 60 years ago
"I find Pakistan a thoroughly interesting country and one well worth the attention of the West," he said.
"It is a country with a tremendous amount of potential, and unfortunately that potential is being wasted."
OSC: Pakistani Papers React to NYT Story on Expansion of CIA Activities
The USG Open Source Center provides translated excerpts from Pakistani editorials reacting to Sunday's New York Times story on discussions by VP Dick Cheney with others in the administration about widening the role in Pakistan of the Central Intelligence Agency and giving it permission to carry out paramilitary strikes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) where al-Qaeda leaders are suspected of having taken refuge. The Pakistani editors generally went ballistic about the idea of the American role expanding inside Pakistan.
"Urdu Press Roundup on New York Times Report on Pakistan's Nuclear Arsenal
Pakistan -- OSC Summary
Tuesday, January 8, 2008 . . .
The following is a roundup of excerpts from editorials on the New York Time's report on action inside Pakistan and its nuclear assets, published in the 8 January 2008 editions of seven Urdu dailies:
Nawa-e Waqt Editorial Laments Pro-US Policies of Incumbent Rulers
Quote:Questioning the need for direct US operations inside Pakistan, the editorial says: "It is hard to know when our rulers will realize the fact that the US has made Pakistan a target. Pakistan has been weakened greatly as a result of the policies pursued over the past six years. Due to this, not only is a rehearsal being conducted to seize Pakistan's nuclear assets but a military operation is being launched using the excuse of Al-Qa'ida and the Taliban. This is the reward for the services that the Musharraf regime has rendered in the wake of 9/11. Lawlessness, terrorism, and unrest reign supreme in the length and breadth of the country. This has exposed the illegitimacy and inefficiency of the Musharraf regime. Therefore, it will be self-deception to believe that the strategy of the current government will yield good results in the future and that we will be able to counter the US designs."
Jinnah Editorial Discusses Threats to Country's Nuclear Program
Quote:Referring to the reports published persistently by the western media against Pakistan's nuclear assets, the editorial remarks: "Pakistan has promoted its nuclear program by making great sacrifices. The United States has not only cursed those who have advanced this program but also spared no effort to insult them. It is now our responsibility to mobilize all means to defend it, and to defy the bullying, pressure, and allegations as our nuclear program is a guarantee of our survival and integrity. The US has bad designs against it. It is gradually moving forward in this regard. The situation in the country is not encouraging and the provinces have also started to raise voices of discontent."
Islam Editorial Sees US Paving Way for Aggression Against Pakistan
Quote:Taking serious notice of the reports being published against Pakistan and its nuclear program as what was done ahead of the aggression against Iraq and Afghanistan, the editorial comments: "First and foremost, these reports and statements show that all the efforts and sacrifices made by Pakistan after joining the so-called US-led war on terrorism, is proving to be an albatross around its own neck. On the one hand, the US is demanding more and more sacrifices from Pakistan. On the other, it has been decided that the war, launched on the excuse of the Al-Qa'ida and Taliban, will be thrust on Pakistan through direct US aggression. All these reports prove nothing except that the volley of allegations made by President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, to the US media, and other countries, was not just a blame-game. These allegations were also aimed at preparing the world like it was primed ahead of the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan through hues and cries. There is great hue and cry against Pakistan, persistent propaganda, allegations, planning, threats, tirades by the US Presidential hopefuls, other individuals and agencies. The target of all of them is the one and same i.e. the destruction of Pakistan and elimination of its nuclear program."
Jasarat Editorial Says US Aggression to be Met With Full Force
Quote:Emphasizing that the US should not expect that aggression in Tribal Areas of Pakistan will be smooth sailing, the editorial says: "There are reports that a secret meeting was held at the White House between the security advisors of President Bush and Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice in which giving more powers to the US troops and the CIA to launch aggressive operation in Pakistan's Tribal Areas was considered. Reports have already been published in the US media that the CIA is launching operations in the Tribal Areas. The Pakistan Government has already rejected these reports. It is not possible for foreign troops to remain unharmed after entering Pakistani territory. The first thing is that the tribesmen, who are being targeted at US behest, will resist them. Then, this will be followed by the Pakistan Army, which has not become so unresponsive as to allow any enemy to launch willful operation inside its territory for the sake of a few (individuals)."
Jang Editorial Asks President Musharraf to Talk to President Bush
Quote:Lamenting the US design against Pakistan's nuclear assets, and propaganda against it, the editorial comments: "Not only Pakistan, but also Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes have become intolerable for the US and other countries. It appears that responsible US circles including President Bush, members of his administration, and several presidential hopefuls are not willing to bother about the assurances being given by Pakistan. Therefore, it is the demand of the impending danger that the president should himself talk to President Bush in order to get a clear picture of the situation, and the secret anti-Pakistan designs of the hostile powers. Musharraf should ask Bush whether this is the reward for supporting the US and the entire world community in the war on terrorism and extremism, and the US action to dismantle a recognized government of a Muslim country? Do they want to deprive Pakistan of its nuclear capability and nuclear assets in exchange for these services? Threats are being made about launching military operations against Pakistan under the guise of allegations."
Pakistan Editorial Criticizes Propaganda Against the Country
Quote:Expressing surprise over the persistent campaign being launched against Pakistan, the editorial states: "So far as the report published in the New York Times is concerned, it is dangerous and a cause of great concern. The Pakistan foreign office and Inter Services Public Relations have adopted a very serious and solid stance regarding the report. However, the thing to ponder over is why does Pakistan have to face such media campaigns and being put in an awkward position time and again. It has become a routine matter every other day for the US to create some mischief against Pakistan. Other European countries are involved in the same kind of activities. The US is going through an electoral process these days and the presidential hopefuls are also making irresponsible statements. Their irresponsible statements are also published in the media in addition to the New York Times report. These statements are also very dangerous and alarming. It appears as if there is no major issue for debate in the United States. Have the United States, and presidential candidates resolved all the (internal) problems faced by their own country?"
Ausaf Editorial Urges Rulers to Take Stock of Their Policies
Quote:Appealing to the nation to unite to counter the conspiracies being hatched by the enemies of Pakistan, the editorial states: "We believe that the rulers have a heavy responsibility at this critical juncture to review their policies instead of trusting the US blindly. They should give preference to their interests over those of the US and respond to them boldly. The US should be told that the Pakistani nation and army know how to defend their borders well. Every child of Pakistan can sacrifice his life to defend the frontiers of the country. Therefore, there is a need for the rulers and politicians to stop making allegations against each other and unite to counter the hostile forces." '
Pakistan president tells U.S. to stay out "I challenge anybody coming into our mountains," he told Singapore's The Straits Times in the interview notable for its unusually strident language. "They would regret that day."
The Pakistan-Afghan border has long been considered a likely hiding place for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his top deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, as well as a staging ground for Taliban militants planning attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan.
The New York Times reported last week that Washington was considering expanding the authority of the CIA and the U.S. military to launch aggressive covert operations within the tribal regions. Several U.S. presidential candidates have also hinted they would support unilateral action in the area.
On Friday, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said that anything the U.S. has done, and anything it will do, has been "in full cooperation" with Pakistan's government.
Musharraf said U.S. troops would "certainly" be considered invaders if they set foot in the tribal regions without his permission. A full transcript of the interview was published on the paper's Web site.
Musharraf also said in the interview that he would resign if opposition parties tried to impeach him after parliamentary elections set for Feb. 18.
Pakistan's opposition is expected to make gains in the elections amid widespread sympathy for opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated Dec. 27. Opposition groups say they would try and oust the president, although it is still doubtful they could muster the two-thirds parliamentary majority required.
Musharraf -- who seized power in a military coup eight years ago -- is seen as vulnerable to impeachment over his decision to fire Supreme Court judges and suspend the constitution last year.
"If that (impeachment) happens, let me assure that I'd be leaving office before they would do anything. If they won with this kind of majority and they formed a government that had the intention of doing this, I wouldn't like to stick around," he said. "I would like to quit the scene."
On Thursday, a suicide bombing by a suspected Islamic extremist in the eastern city of Lahore killed 24 people in the first major attack since Bhutto's assassination. All but three of the dead in the bombing outside the High Court were police officers.
Investigators reconstructed the face of the suicide bomber and took prints off his severed fingers on Friday as they probed the attack, which exposed Pakistan's growing vulnerability to Islamic extremists ahead of the elections.
The bombing was the latest in a series of at least 20 suicide attacks in the country over the past three months that have killed around 400 people, many of them security officers.
Lahore police released a photo of the bomber -- who appears to be around 30 years old with medium-length black hair and a thin mustache and beard -- after reconstructing his mutilated face. Investigators also recovered prints from two of his fingers and were trying to match them with those in a national database, said Lahore anti-terrorism police officer Masood Aziz.
Musharraf rejects UN Bhutto probe
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has ruled out a United Nations inquiry into the assassination of the opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto.
He told the French paper Le Figaro that Pakistan had its own institutions to investigate the killing and that they were being assisted by the UK.
The president said he hoped the results of the investigation would be published before February's parliamentary vote.
Ms Bhutto's son, Bilawal, has repeatedly called for a UN inquiry.
He has said his family and the Pakistan People's Party, of which he is now joint leader with his father, do not believe that a government inquiry into Benazir Bhutto's death has had the "necessary transparency".
In the interview with Le Figaro on Friday, Mr Musharraf rejected the demands for a UN inquiry, saying Pakistan should not be compared to Lebanon, where the organisation is investigating the murder of the former Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri.
"It is not possible. Is another country involved?" he said. "Pakistan is not Lebanon."
The initial findings of the UN inquiry suggested Syria played a role Mr Hariri's assassination - a claim Damascus has denied.
Mr Musharraf said Pakistan had its own institutions to investigate the killing of Benazir Bhutto and that they would receive assistance from British police.
He said there was a campaign by al-Qaeda to undermine Pakistan, but denied the country was about to disintegrate and descend into violence.
"They do not have the capacity to destabilise the country, but their suicide attacks create disorder and dishearten the population," he said.
The president said the delayed parliamentary elections scheduled for 18 February would be held "whatever happens".
"We must defeat the terrorist campaign aimed at derailing the economic and democratic process. We must not play their game," he added.
"That is why elections are necessary."
The parliamentary elections were postponed from 8 January following Ms Bhutto's death in a suicide attack in Rawalpindi on 27 December.
More than 50 people were killed in violent unrest sparked by the assassination.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/01/12 05:23:53 GMT
Poll: Many Pakistanis believe government killed BhuttoThe opinion poll, seen Sunday by The Associated Press, showed that 23 per cent of Pakistanis suspected government agencies in the slaying, while 25 per cent believed government-allied politicians were behind it. Only 17 per cent suspected al-Qaida or Taliban.
It comes after a poll by The Canadian Press and Harris/Decima this past week that suggested a majority of Canadians (54 per cent) felt the government of Pakistan wasn't telling the truth about the Bhutto assassination.
Eighteen per cent of the 1, 000 Canadians surveyed between Jan. 3 and 6 believe that the government of President Pervez Musharraf bears direct responsibility for the death of Bhutto. Thirty-nine per cent believe the government bears indirect responsibility.
Still 10 per cent of respondents felt the Pakistan government was free from blame and only slightly more (11 per cent) felt the government was being honest.
Harris/Decima says a sample of this size has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
The poll by Gallup Pakistan, which is affiliated with Gallup International polling group, questioned 1,300 men and women in face-to-face interviews across Pakistan soon after Bhutto's slaying. No margin of error was given.
Information Minister Nisar Memon questioned the poll and its findings.
"I don't think this is representative of the thought process of the people of Pakistan and neither does it reflect the realities," he said of the survey. "It is very clear that people know that it is the terrorists who are responsible."
Musharraf, who has himself survived at least three assassination attempts blamed on militants, seized power eight years ago in a military coup. His popularity was already low before the Bhutto assassination amid demands for greater democratic rule.
The parliamentary elections, which will take place on Feb. 18 after being delayed for six weeks amid rioting triggered by Bhutto's death, are seen as key to Pakistan's transition to democracy as it battles rising attacks by al-Qaida and Taliban militants.
Bhutto's party and the other major opposition grouping are expected to do well in the polls, in part because of sympathy over her death. But most analysts expect no party will gain enough seats to form a government alone and predict the polls will result in a likely unstable coalition. Others fear that vote-rigging may taint the whole process and trigger fresh disputes.
Opposition wants army at Pakistan polls
By SLOBODAN LEKIC, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jan 31, 3:33 PM ET
Pakistan's president came under increased pressure Thursday to take dramatic steps to ensure fair elections next month, with the opposition demanding the army guard polling stations and influential retired military officers saying the deposed chief justice should become caretaker leader.
The parliamentary elections are meant to usher in democracy after eight years of military rule under President Pervez Musharraf, a key U.S. ally whose popularity is waning while Taliban and al-Qaida militancy is rising.
The party of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto sent a letter to the Election Commission asking that troops be deployed to polling stations during the Feb. 18 vote. "The law and order situation in the whole of Pakistan is very grave, precarious and ominous," Sen. Latif Khosa of the Pakistan People's Party wrote in the letter, citing growing militancy and killings.
The group of retired generals, admirals and air marshals said Musharraf should hand over power to deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry during the elections.
The retired officers also recommended lifting all restrictions on the media and creating an independent electoral commission, according to Asghar Khan, a former air force commander who chaired a meeting of the group.
"We expect nothing but such illegal steps from Musharraf because this is his trait," Aitzaz Ahsan, Pakistan's most prominent lawyer, told reporters at his Lahore home.
Associated Press writers Bashirullah Khan in Miran Shah and Asif Shahzad in Lahore contributed to this report.