Any criticism of the head of state, members of the armed services and any other senior member of government is banned.
Anyone breaking these rules faces a three-year jail term and a 10 million rupee ($167,000) fine.
Now this is the way to run a successful government - if you say otherwise, you will end up in jail (only for 3 years).
His justification for these steps: the Supreme Court was hindering in the working of the government (for giggles or tears, you can read the full text of emergency here) . Yes, he is right. Checks and balances really screw up the “absolute” power of the government. However, there is a more naked reason for his actions: the Supreme Court was about to issue a ruling on the legality of his election as a President.
So how are things shaping up? Currently, there is a blackout of news in Pakistan. The transmission of private television stations has been blocked and state television is providing the only version of events in there. Fortunately, Dubai-based Pakistani channels are still broadcasting to the international community.
So what will be the impact of today’s events? It is still too early to tell. There is going to be pressure from the US and the EU (the only two places that have any influence on Musharraf’s actions). It also appears that the Supreme Court judges will not go without a fight. While Musharraf sent out the emergency order, an 8-member Supreme Court panel issued a judgment nullifying the emergency order.
The key issue is that the fight against the Taliban cannot be won without the political will of moderate Pakistanis. Without a proper political ally, the military cannot subdue violence in the northern areas. Now the hopes for free and fair elections have receded completely and there is a good chance that resentment against the army (already at an all time high) will only increase in the coming months in all sections of the population. This unity of opposition against the army will provide a good opportunity for Taliban-style extremists to enhance their influence in Pakistan.
How much will Pakistanis have to pay for the power ambition of one man? The next couple of months will give us some hint. And it will not just be Pakistan. The location of Pakistan - between China, India, Afghanistan, and Iran – with its population of 160 million, ensures that the international community will also end up paying a high price for the hubris of one General.
Ok...now that I have blown some steam over this issue, we can return to science & religion.