Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Off-topic: Journalists beaten up in Pakistan

Sorry for some off-topic posts. But the situation in Pakistan is quite serious and journalists, students, and lawyers need all the help they can get. If you are in the US and are wondering how to help, you can find some suggestions here.

It is time for Musharraf to go! Here is a lead article from the Economist on the subject and an op-ed piece by Pervez Hoodbhoy in the Los Angeles Times. The main question now is how long will he drag this process and how many institutions will he destroy before being forced to leave the office (the judiciary and the press are already experiencing his wrath). And here is an editorial in today's Washington Post on Mush and his personal ambitions:

Like many autocrats before him, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has confused his own fortunes with those of his country. Over the weekend he told a visiting U.S. envoy that only he could save Pakistan from terrorism and lead it toward democracy. In fact, the opposite is true: It is increasingly clear that Gen. Musharraf has become the foremost obstacle to ending Pakistan's state of emergency and revitalizing what has been a losing battle against Islamic extremists. The Bush administration, which has been trying to rescue Gen. Musharraf, needs to accept that Pakistan's rescue can begin only with his departure.

Every major step Gen. Musharraf has taken in the past two weeks has been aimed at preserving his hold on power, at the expense of his country. The state of emergency he declared did not facilitate the army's fight against extremists, as he claimed, but it allowed him to fire a dozen Supreme Court judges who were considering legal challenges to his highly manipulated "reelection" as president. Yesterday the new judges appointed by Gen. Musharraf dismissed most of the challenges; they are paving the way for him to remain president even as they destroy the nascent independence of the Pakistani judiciary.

Gen. Musharraf has sought to appease the Bush administration by announcing parliamentary elections for early January. But he has refused to lift the state of emergency and has suggested several times that he will hold the vote under de facto martial law. That would save Gen. Musharraf from the political and legal challenges that could flow from a restoration of the rule of law, since his actions after he suspended the constitution have been hugely unpopular and blatantly illegal. It could also allow him to control the results of the elections and prevent a strong showing by Pakistan's two largest secular political parties, which oppose him. But it would make a mockery of democracy and ruin the chance for Pakistan's moderate center -- its political parties, jurists, journalists and civil society groups -- to unite with the army against the growing threat of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
You can read the full editorial here.

And to reinforce the point, here is the full story from BBC about journalists beaten by police in Pakistan today:
More than 100 journalists protesting against media restrictions and emergency rule have been arrested in Pakistan, eyewitnesses say.

Most were held in Karachi and several detained in Hyderabad.

Police baton-charged the Karachi journalists after they tried to stage a protest march. Some of them were hurt.

When President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule on 3 November, radio and TV news was banned, as was criticism of the government.

Here are some pictures from the protest:


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