November 2007 Archives



Guest Voice  |  November 7, 2007 11:03 AM

Musharraf's Two-Faced Rule

By Alizeh Haider

Musharraf’s decision to impose martial law, disguised as “emergency rule,” on Pakistan’s people comes as a slap in our faces after the years we’ve spent listening to his sweet lullabies heralding the advent of democracy. The move is desperate and baffling, and his justification for it is shoddy, at best.

In his November 3rd address to the nation, General Musharraf warned of militant extremists who pose “a direct challenge [to] Pakistan’s sovereignty.” He also blamed Pakistan’s judiciary and the media for their “interference” in government affairs, which has “enhanced [an] atmosphere of uncertainty.” Pakistan, he said, is now “at the brink of a very dangerous situation.”

But consider the real circumstances. For eight years, Musharraf has simultaneously held Pakistan’s two most powerful offices, President and Chief of Army Staff. The country’s entire military and paramilitary power was at his command. He had hand picked his Prime Minister, and his major political opponents were in exile abroad. The West had offered overwhelming and unconditional support for action against these extremists.

My humble question to General Musharraf is this: With this kind of power, why has he not been able to contain these terrorists and curb this rise in militancy? Why are we, the people of Pakistan, being made to pay for his strategic failures in dealing with the Taliban?

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Guest Voice  |  November 9, 2007 7:12 PM

Voice from House Arrest: Don't Let Pakistan Follow Burma

By Afsin Yurdakul

‘’I can’t speak for too long on the phone,’’ Asma Jahangir said in a calm, determined tone, ‘‘the military might cut it off.’’ Nonetheless, Pakistan’s leading human rights lawyer and activist accepted my offer of a phone interview this morning. She spoke from her home, where she was being held under house arrest, via the one phone line that the Pakistani police had somehow forgotten to cut off.

She spoke quickly, not because she was nervous, but because she wanted to tell the world as much as she could about what is really going on behind the scenes of Pakistan’s current political turmoil. She said the electronic media is completely shut down, and satellite dishes have been removed from the supermarket shelves, ostensibly by the military, to prevent people from getting or spreading any information about the state of emergency.

Jahangir urged the world not to turn a blind eye to violations of democracy and free speech in Pakistan, and called for maximum international pressure on General Pervez Musharraf.

However, as she was telling me that these are defining moments for her country’s future, the police interjected, and we lost the connection. I called back immediately. A male voice answered (she had been home alone only moments before) and told me that ‘she was not allowed to talk anymore,’ because ‘she was with the police.’ At the moment I have no information regarding her status.

I originally conducted this interview for Turkey’s NTV-MSNBC news portal, where it was published this morning in Turkish. I worry that the interview itself, intended as a chance for her to speak freely, is in fact a chilling example of the ban on free speech in Pakistan today.

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 |  November 11, 2007 12:45 PM

Pakistan is Not a Failed State

By Fareed Zakaria

When America acts, it is blamed for the consequences. When it doesn't act, it is blamed for the consequences. In much of the Arab world, public anger is directed at the United States for "supporting" unpopular dictatorships -- by which it is meant that the U.S. does not push these regimes to open up. But were Washington to really press these governments, there would be a public hue and cry about American interference and imperialism. When you are the superpower, you can't escape the consequences of action or inaction.

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Guest Voice  |  November 12, 2007 4:29 PM

Pakistan: Back to 'American' Ideals

Pakistan was founded on "American" ideals and freedoms: The U.S. must focus on those, and forget Musharraf, if it wants to avoid failure there.

By Akbar Ahmed

The images on TV of lawyers being thrashed in President Musharraf's Emergency are for me extremely disturbing and evidence of a serious breakdown of society. Pakistan was created by M.A. Jinnah, the quintessential lawyer. He created what in 1947 was the largest Muslim nation on earth within the confines of the law and without ever going to jail or engaging in violence of any kind. He founded the country on the basis of democracy, human rights, minority and women's rights.

So what happened? How has Pakistan degenerated from a Muslim democracy founded on women’s rights and religious freedom (Jinnah spent the last Christmas before he died with the Christian community) to a military dictatorship with (despite massive levels of U.S. military aid) some of the highest levels of anti-Americanism in the world?

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