What next? General Musharraf defied the Bush administration and declared a state of emergency, Provisional Constitution Order (PCO), in effect imposed martial law. While American officials are huddling about what to do, Benazir Bhutto, head of the Pakistan People's Party, flew back from Dubai.
From Saudi Arabia, Nawaz Sharif condemned General Musharraf. "ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Exiled former President Nawaz Sharif said on Saturday Pakistan was heading towards anarchy and described President Pervez Musharraf's decision to invoke emergency powers as a form of martial law."
At this time it appears doubtful that his Pakistan Muslim League N (Nawaz Group) can emerge as a powerful force. It incurred displeasure of both conservative religious groups and moderate (secularist) Pakistanis.
Seven justices of the supreme court who defied PCO are reported to be under house arrest. Pro-Musharraf Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar has been named as chief justice.
And the mullahs -- heads of religious groups who wield tremendous power -- which side are they going to support ?Musharraf quotes Abe LincolnNew York Times
Speaking in English, General Musharraf began his discussion of Lincoln as follows:
“I would at this time venture to read out an excerpt of President Abraham Lincoln, specially to all my listeners in the United States. As an idealist, Abraham Lincoln had one consuming passion during that time of crisis, and this was to preserve the Union… towards that end, he broke laws, he violated the Constitution, he usurped arbitrary power, he trampled individual liberties. His justification was necessity and explaining his sweeping violation of Constitutional limits he wrote in a letter in 1864, and I quote, ‘My oath to preserve the Constitution imposed on me the duty of preserving by every indispensable means that government, that Nation of which the Constitution was the organic law. Was it possible to lose the Nation and yet preserve the Constitution?’”
A good touch, that. As the people of Pakistan face this crisis we can only hope that violence and loss of lives do not become every day occurrence. It is unfortunate that the records of Benazir Bhutto's previous premierships are far from clean. She talks the talk but does not inspire trust.*****