Shorter Ali Eterez: “Military dictators do tend to make the trains run on time, don’t they?”*
Cernig casually pushes a butterknife through the steaming, still-soft bullshit here (updating and correcting Libby’s initial post) and here, speculating that Musharraf’s motives are pretty simple (yet, thus far, entirely effective): cling to power at all costs.
That Musharaff has engineered this whole series of events to break the Bhutto/Shariff alliance which could have co-operatively managed serious resistance to his plans for martial law and continued rule, in a way that they cannot seperately, is not beyond the bounds of possibility. No-one said dictators have to be dumb. Look at the way Musharaff has gamed the U.S. for six years. Every time he hands over Al Qaeda or Taliban terrorists, they are the rogue ones who are a challenge to his own rule. Islamist terrorists who back Musharaff get safe haven and are even released after token arrests for Western consumption. Meanwhile his ISI is, according to NATO, India and Afghanistan, still the guiding hand behind the Taliban’s senior leadership.
Today, BBC News reports that Musharraf has indeed begun the predicted opposition putsch:
Pakistani opposition leaders and activists have been detained in the wake of President Pervez Musharraf’s decision to declare emergency rule.
The acting head of the party of exiled former PM Nawaz Sharif was arrested, senior lawyers have been detained and the country’s chief justice sacked.
PM Shaukat Aziz said that hundreds of people had been held, and the emergency would last “as long as is necessary”.
Scheduled elections could be delayed for up to a year, he added.
But no decision had been made over the date of any election, he added, insisting the government remained committed to the democratic process.
Yes, committed as any autocrat who initially attained power via bloodless coup and is now desperately holding on to it by suspending the constitution, sacking the judiciary and detaining key opposition figures.
A final note, once again courtesy everyone’s favourite Newshog:
Rediff [Saturday] quoted a former head of Indian intelligence as saying that the Bush administration must have given Musharaff its approval before he went ahead with his plan for martial law.
Democracy’s march continues unabated.
Related: BBC News correspondent M. Ilyas Khan: Emergency rule is a direct challenge to the judiciary.
Update: While Bush admin officials engage in
the usual Kabuki “handwringing“, (“highly regrettable,” as per Condi, while her spokesman sez the US is “deeply disturbed” by Musharraf’s extra-democratic maneuver) CanWest News reports that, lo and behold, the Stephen Harper Party has once again shown its independent spirit and commitment to democracy and the rule of law by–er, essentially mimicking the tepid US response to recent events in Pakistan:
“We are deeply concerned about this development and urge the government of Pakistan to cancel the state of emergency and the new provisional constitutional order immediately,” said [Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime] Bernier’s statement, which did not name Musharraf personally.”These measures undermine democratic development, judicial independence and the possibility of free and fair elections to which the people of Pakistan are entitled.”
And I am deeply concerned that our present government makes Tony Blair seem almost maverick-like by comparison.
Update 2: Dave @ The Galloping Beaver:
The Bush administration, cheering for the return of Benazir Bhutto, demonstrating its elementary-school understanding of foreign affairs, was possessed of the belief that Benazir would be the silver bullet which caused a democratization of Pakistan. It probably never crossed their minds that Bhutto and Musharraf cannot stand each other.
So, either way, we have another fiasco erupting from the mis-estimation of Condoleeza Rice and the lack of depth in the Bush administration.
In any case, Musharraf is going to need more than the imposition of martial law to regain control of Pakistan. And if he converts himself to a pure military dictator Pakistan will probably spin right out of control.
*h/t muslimgirlpower in CIF comments for stealing my unwritten one liner, which I have unabashedly stolen back, albeit with due credit /grin