Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, November 09, 2007

Pakistan's state of emergency puts U.S. in difficult position

Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, key U.S. ally in counterterrorism, has imposed a state of emergency in his country, leading to a crackdown on human rights, and prompting protests from angry civilians. TIME featured the story in an article Thursday.

Musharraf has said that he plans to return Pakistan to democracy. However, as the article notes, he has worked against the institutions of a democratic society. On November 3, Musharraf suspended the constitution, suppressed independent media, fired top judges, jailed secular politicians, and sent troops to halt protests in cities.

“Those [Musharraf] has arrested are progressive, secular-minded people, while the terrorists are offered negotiations and cease-fires,” said Asma Jahangir, Pakistan’s best-known human rights activist.

The U.S. government has been allied with Musharraf largely because of his professed dedication to fighting terrorism. The Bush administration, though, has little in the way of real influence over him despite giving Pakistan more than $10 billion in aid since 2001, the article says, and it is unlikely that the U.S. will stop giving aid, because of the country’s key role in counterterrorism.

“We are mindful not to do anything that would undermine counterterrorism efforts,” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said.

The state of emergency in Pakistan has only helped militants, though, according to the article. Rather than fighting these militant groups, Pakistan’s army and intelligence forces must now devote time, energy and resources to stamping out opposition protests in the cities.

Rumors have been spreading around the country of another coup. Upon hearing about this possibility, Abida Hussain, a former ambassador to the U.S., said: “If there were a coup, it would be the best day for Pakistan.”

For the full article, click here.

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