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May 13, 2007 12:12 PM   Subscribe

40 lie dead, as General Pervez Musharraf tries to quash the judiciary of Pakistan, before the elections (pdf) to be held this year.
posted by hadjiboy (66 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 


I don't think I can recall a time when the government there wasn't on the very brink of collapsing. At least not since they developed nuclear weapons.

Pakistan freaks me out. It's one of the few places where the dictator that runs it might actually be less dangerous than a democratic government would be. I'm under the impression that much of the population is very, very hostile to us.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:43 PM on May 13, 2007


This Musharraf, he is a military dictator with WMDs who supported the Taliban before allowing them, and Osama bin Laden, sanctuary somewhere under his regime, no?
posted by taosbat at 12:55 PM on May 13, 2007


Obviously the U.S. should react to this, and the poisoning of American kids and pets by China, by nukular means.
posted by davy at 12:59 PM on May 13, 2007


A critical look at Pakistani madrassas c. 2002 -- Who Killed Daniel Pearl?
posted by acro at 1:00 PM on May 13, 2007


Good post hadjiboy. Lots to worry about in Pakistan, which is at a critical geopolitical juncture in the Big Oil business.

Interesting that Musharaf came into power in Pakistan a month before 9/11. Interesting also that this slaughter is happening during the Big Gas and Oil conference going on in Karachi now, "Pakistan is also positioning to become a major energy hub in the region, serving as a corridor for the international supply routes of energy from the landlocked Central Asian States / Middle East to the energy starved markets of India and China."

"Political commentators throughout Pakistan have speculated for the past two months that Musharraf might be trying to orchestrate a crisis so he can declare an emergency and avoid holding elections."

Quoted from one of the links, this sounds like what must be happening. Or something.

The falseness of the "I am not a crook" statement by Nixon, who felt entitled to be a crook while denying it could well apply to Musharraf.

"Many people in Pakistan had "disappeared", allegedly kidnapped by the American agencies FBI and CIA in pursuance of the "War on Terror" and a Supreme Court bench under the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had directed the government to trace the missing people and stop the continuous human abuses, by American agencies and their local moles. Initially the government denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of such people. Some of these people were later, on the insistence and rebuke of the SC, found in Army detention centers."

Quoted from your link about Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
posted by nickyskye at 1:06 PM on May 13, 2007


This Musharraf, he is a military dictator with WMDs who supported the Taliban before allowing them, and Osama bin Laden, sanctuary somewhere under his regime, no?

And George Bush's trusted ally in the War on Terror, lest we forget.

Cheney and the Republican Taliban are in a lather about Iran when the "terrorists" are one bullet away from Pakistan's nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles? Makes me long for the days when the Soviet Union was master of their domain.
posted by three blind mice at 1:10 PM on May 13, 2007


Google translate from aljazeera.net
posted by acro at 1:11 PM on May 13, 2007


I'm not sure whether I read it here or not, but I very recently saw a mention that this judge is not all that great. He was one of the strongest judicial supporters of the military coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Pakistan, back in 1999 if I remember correctly.

So he's definitely been considered an administration man for a long time.

This may be a genuine dispute, but it may not. The comments above about this whole thing being orchestrated to avoid elections could be perfectly accurate.
posted by Malor at 1:20 PM on May 13, 2007


Musharraf came to power with a coup--he doesn't believe in elections.
posted by amberglow at 1:26 PM on May 13, 2007


Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria via PBS' foreignexchange.tv
May 4 2007
posted by acro at 1:35 PM on May 13, 2007


And George Bush's trusted ally in the War on Terror, lest we forget.

Cheney and the Republican Taliban are in a lather about Iran when the "terrorists" are one bullet away from Pakistan's nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles?


What could possibly go wrong?
posted by taosbat at 1:44 PM on May 13, 2007


From acro's aljazeera's link:

Musharraf said that the main reason for what happened is the politicization of the issue concerning the judiciary, and added that "the real power lies in the people, and if one wanted to see the actual people come here to see such large numbers of persons who came here to myself."

The General who took power in a military coup says "The real power lies in the people."

Maybe something is lost in the translation?
posted by three blind mice at 1:56 PM on May 13, 2007


You see, strong dictators who hold impoverished and angry populations and radical factions with access to serious weapons in check are good, if they're our friends. But Musharraf should take a lesson from the fate of Sadaam. When he stops being useful to the Cheney Regime, he's a goner.
posted by spitbull at 2:09 PM on May 13, 2007


With the google translation, just hover over the English to see the Arabic; a neat use of AJAX...
posted by acro at 2:11 PM on May 13, 2007


As an opponent of dictatorships I can't find anything good to say about Musharraf. As an opponent of theocracy I can't find anything good to say about the people who'd likely replace him.

The whole situation sucks massively.
posted by sotonohito at 2:25 PM on May 13, 2007


a neat use of AJAX

DHTML actually.

popjsyo does this for Japanese webpages, and it's the friggin' coolest tool for serious languange learners.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:35 PM on May 13, 2007


I was just going to say 'web 2.0', but I reached, and missed apparently. :)
posted by acro at 2:39 PM on May 13, 2007


Interesting that Musharaf came into power in Pakistan a month before 9/11

He assumed power in 1999 as "Chief Executive," and was named President in mid-2001.
posted by aaronetc at 2:42 PM on May 13, 2007


Heywood Mogroot Just looked up popjisyo, that's a fantastic tool. Thanks for mentioning it.
posted by sotonohito at 2:44 PM on May 13, 2007


As an opponent of dictatorships I can't find anything good to say about Musharraf. As an opponent of theocracy I can't find anything good to say about the people who'd likely replace him.

Except that the people currently fighting him are not theocrats, but rather secularists who care about the rule of law.
posted by delmoi at 4:28 PM on May 13, 2007


Why do hadjiboy and homunculus hate Western society so much?

Because our usernames start with 'h', obviously.
posted by homunculus at 5:40 PM on May 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


sotonohito: "As an opponent of dictatorships I can't find anything good to say about Musharraf. As an opponent of theocracy I can't find anything good to say about the people who'd likely replace him."

delmoi: "Except that the people currently fighting him are not theocrats, but rather secularists who care about the rule of law."

Ah yes, but the politics of Pakistan, counting also the sentiment on the street (such the riots over that European's cartoons insulting Muhammad), don't favor "secularists who care about the rule of law." In Pakistan the military is stronger (hence Musharraf in the first place), but without at least the willing acquiescence of a semi-literate and sentimentally superstitious Sunni majority even a military regime can't stand.

Then maybe the CIA should set up coalition involving representatives of the various Shia and Ahmadi sects in Pakistan, the other minority religions (like Hinduism and Xianity), amenable factions in the Pakistani military, and secular "liberal" and communist parties as a counter- weight to the Salafist-Wahhabi Sunni theocratists. Divide et impera works well enough in Israel, Turkey and Lebanon most of the time.
posted by davy at 5:42 PM on May 13, 2007


This Musharraf, he is a military dictator with WMDs who supported the Taliban before allowing them, and Osama bin Laden, sanctuary somewhere under his regime, no?

And George Bush's trusted ally in the War on Terror, lest we forget.


Yes. Just wait until the Iranians try putting together a bomb based on the "assistance" given by the Pakistani head nukular scientist!
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:27 PM on May 13, 2007


UbuRoivas... Panorama: Nuclear Wallmart
posted by acro at 7:17 PM on May 13, 2007


spitbull: You see, strong dictators who hold impoverished and angry populations and radical factions with access to serious weapons in check are good, if they're our friends.
Well, yeah, kinda. Those you would likely come to power in that country would, by far be a bigger danger with nukes than say, Iran.

Of course, the United States, (and other Western powers to an extent), caused a lot of the hostility by supporting dictators to combat a half-imagined Communist threat. While militant Islam is capable of less harm to the West than nuclear capable Soviet communists, it does seem to be more directly aggressive.

It may never be moral, but using strongmen to keep a hostile populace in check probably makes more strategic sense now than at any time since the Second World War. The best option, to make our policies less offensive (at least superficially) while fostering real change in the region, is beyond our leaders, and frankly, our people.
posted by spaltavian at 11:06 PM on May 13, 2007




The (India-based, but SAARC-right-of-center) South Asia Terrorism Portal has some thoughts about the whole thing.

In addition to the macabre deaths and lockdown in Karachi,
... Pakistan witnessed more than a doubling of terrorism-related fatalities in 2006, at 1471 killed, as against 648 in 2005. The first four months of 2007 have already seen 706 killed, including 266 civilians, 59 Security Forces’ personnel and 381 terrorists/insurgents.
(The sub-text here is that SATP generally uses changes in casuality figures as a measure of political stability in insurgency-affected areas in South Asia. If the violence has fallen year-on-year, and there's no evidence that the insurgents are arming themselves up, then that means the government in the area is taking control.)

So it's not just political violence (meaning, violence from 'mainstream-ised' political fronts such as MQM) that Musharraf should be concerned about, but also insurgent violence as well. This is seperate from his earlier troubles at Jamia Hafsa:
After the administration started the demolition of part of the mosque, said to have been constructed illegally, students of the seminaries launched an all-out campaign against them.

They prevented the authorities physically from reaching the site and then occupied the building of a nearby children's library.

Most of this was done by the female students, many of whom were carrying Kalashnikovs during the occupation. (emphasis mine)
To summarize, Musharraff is screwed.

Tangential, but interesting that judges in Pakistan still use wigs. We across the Khokhropar border have stopped using those since the 90's, I think.
posted by the cydonian at 5:00 AM on May 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Today: Strikes Hit Pakistan After Violence
posted by amberglow at 7:04 AM on May 14, 2007


Pakistan freaks me out. It's one of the few places where the dictator that runs it might actually be less dangerous than a democratic government would be.

I wonder if people in Pakistan have their own messages boards where they write about how America needs a dictator since its citizens are clearly too stupid to elect a reasonable person to be president.

I'm under the impression that much of the population is very, very hostile to us.

I wonder why that is?
posted by chunking express at 8:43 AM on May 14, 2007


How 'bout them apples?
posted by saulgoodman at 8:55 AM on May 14, 2007


I'm under the impression that much of the population is very, very hostile to us.

I wonder why that is?


Indeed, the United States keeping a dicatator afloat in Pakistan isn't fair. Nor is the Bombay sun being obscured by a mushroom cloud. There are times when repeating our sins is a better strategic option, at least in the short term. The hostility won't go away overnight no matter what we do, and the West generally lacks the vision for a real solution. (Because, yes, it's still only the West that can solve it.)
posted by spaltavian at 9:35 AM on May 14, 2007


Did we install him tho, or are we just propping him up? I thought we didn't.

(Given the option of a puppet or an invasion/occupation, i'd pick puppet anyday tho)
posted by amberglow at 10:10 AM on May 14, 2007


(Given the option of a puppet or an invasion/occupation, i'd pick puppet anyday tho)

Yes, because those are clearly the only two choices the people of Pakistan have. Americans need to get over themselves.

Nor is the Bombay sun being obscured by a mushroom cloud.

Musharraf is what's stopping this from happening? Please.
posted by chunking express at 10:35 AM on May 14, 2007


ISLAMABAD: A senior official of the Pakistani Supreme Court was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen early Monday, following political clashes in Karachi on Sunday that claimed 39 lives...
posted by taosbat at 11:50 AM on May 14, 2007


via ISLAMABAD link above: "The possibility of any compromise to correct the original mistake" of removing Chaudhry "has vanished now," the paper said, adding that "the ante has been upped by the government."
posted by acro at 12:13 PM on May 14, 2007


(Given the option of a puppet or an invasion/occupation, i'd pick puppet anyday tho)

Yes, because those are clearly the only two choices the people of Pakistan have. Americans need to get over themselves.


Quite frankly, recently they are--tragically. Until we get back to diplomacy (which we have a mixed record with), those are the choices. The people of other countries have to not allow it to happen. We have a long history of installing and propping up dictators and still do it. Musharraf is a nasty piece of work and shouldn't be propped up by us, but he is. We can't change that til we change leaders ourselves.
posted by amberglow at 12:18 PM on May 14, 2007


I wonder if people in Pakistan have their own messages boards where they write about how America needs a dictator since its citizens are clearly too stupid to elect a reasonable person to be president.

Chowk is a popular discussion board set up and frequented by Pakistanis, and discusses plenty.

Since the 40 odd killed in Karachai, a senior official of the Supreme Court of Pakistan--one who refused to testify for the Government and was going to be a witness in favor of the deposed Chief Justice--was murdered in last night.

Musharraf is hugely unpopular now. It is questionable whether his regime can now survive. He will not be replaced by theocrats or jihadis. His two main rivals head secular parties.
posted by Azaadistani at 12:22 PM on May 14, 2007


He will not be replaced by theocrats or jihadis. His two main rivals head secular parties.
That's great news.

We don't think anyone else is too stupid--look at Bush. What we do see tho, is our money propping up many horrible people and regimes all over the world. Rice Calls Brutal Oil-Rich Dictator a ‘Good Friend’
posted by amberglow at 12:26 PM on May 14, 2007


Jon Stewart's really going to regret having tea with this guy.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:23 PM on May 14, 2007


He seems nice, though.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:26 PM on May 14, 2007


delmoi, now yes, but secular people can't hold power in Pakistan. It'll end up like Iran but poorer & less intelligent.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:53 PM on May 14, 2007


and isn't Pakistan officially an Islamic Republic or something like that? Wasn't it founded to be religious?
posted by amberglow at 3:43 PM on May 14, 2007


Musharraf biography -- pdfs
posted by acro at 5:38 PM on May 14, 2007


and isn't Pakistan officially an Islamic Republic or something like that? Wasn't it founded to be religious?

Religion was behind its founding, but I don't know if it's constitutionally a religious state, not that a constitution matters much in their current political climate. The British left the subcontinent in a huge hurry after WW2 (needing to concentrate on rebuilding back home) & the partition of India could be seen as political expediency at best, or a massive departing kick in the balls at worst.

Handy country info is always available through our friends at the CIA.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:02 PM on May 14, 2007


It'll end up like Iran but poorer & less intelligent.

Or, clearly, just like MetaFilter.
posted by chunking express at 7:57 PM on May 14, 2007


What? Has General Mathowwaf suspended Chief Librarian Chaussamyn? "Alleged abuses of office", my ass! To the MeTa barricades!
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:59 PM on May 14, 2007


chungking express: You write in jest, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was such a message board. Anti-democratic authoritarianism is fairly popular among the urban middle class in South Asia, India and Pakistan included.

I've had countless conversations with Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Nepali friends who continue to idolize authoritarian dictators despite the region's rather disastrous record with dictators, "Emergencies", and such. My view, as always, is that while we've had a bad record with democratically-elected politicians, our record with non-elected dictators has been even worse. It's a fine point, one that is often lost on those who haven't studied contemporary South Asian history, and explaining which is simplistic and painfully obvious for those who have.

Musharraf, though, continues to bolster my position.
posted by the cydonian at 4:50 AM on May 16, 2007




Musharraf to get more U.S. support for stable Afghanistan

So we're propping him up.
posted by amberglow at 10:42 AM on May 16, 2007


So we're propping him up.

I guess they are sticking to what they know. The US love them some puppet leaders.
posted by chunking express at 10:43 AM on May 16, 2007


So we're propping him up. Our tax dollars at work
posted by taosbat at 10:51 AM on May 16, 2007


So we're propping him up

Oh, c'mon, amberglow. This cannot possibly be news to you.

You must have heard the argument of "why Iraq & not Pakistan?":

Pakistan:
* Is an undemocratic military dictatorship
* Has nukes
* Has given nuclear secrets to Iran
* Engages in terrorism (against India, in Kasmir, mainly)
* Set up & supported the Taliban (they were supposed to fill the power vacuum after the Afghans defeated the Soviets)
* Is chock full of radical medrassas & radical Islamists
* Is linked to a massive number of Al Quaeda operatives (in the sense that they lived or trained there)

And yet, when asked if & when we (the coalition) were going to do something about Pakistan, Australian Prime Minister John Howard - who never says or does anything that isn't 100% in line with his master in Washington - said "But why would we do that? Pakistan is a Good Global Citizen!".

I guess the thing is that - as others have said - Musharraf & the military might just be the only things capable of holding Pakistan together & saving it from descending into a bigger, scarier version of Afghanistan, so the West has no alternative but to prop him up & turn a blind eye to all the other quite frightening aspects of the country.
* Is arguably home to Osama bin Laden (admittedly, in the wild & lawless frontier region)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:41 PM on May 16, 2007


(oh, the OBL bullet point somehow shifted to the bottom)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:42 PM on May 16, 2007


Oh, c'mon, amberglow. This cannot possibly be news to you.

Of course it's not news to me. It's just confirmation that we're still sticking with him at a time when he has lost all credibility at home.
posted by amberglow at 5:12 PM on May 16, 2007


Oh, c'mon, amberglow. This cannot possibly be news to you.

Of course it's not news to me. It's just confirmation that we're still sticking with him at a time when he has lost all credibility at home.


Perhaps he's still fighting his battle of Wolfowitzian drama, scale and grandeur?
posted by taosbat at 5:20 PM on May 16, 2007


nope---there's either oil or secrets he has there that they can't afford to let loose. I say it's secrets involving Osama/al Qaeda/Taliban/etc. They've consistently refused to press him on going after any of them.
posted by amberglow at 5:32 PM on May 16, 2007


They've consistently refused to press him on going after any of them.
posted by taosbat at 5:39 PM on May 16, 2007


the link wasn't active, taos...try again...
posted by amberglow at 8:22 PM on May 16, 2007


Dictators supported by the US government. The US supports dictators because they've decided it's in their interests, not because the dictators have some magical power to hold a country together or some other such nonsense. Chile wouldn't have imploded had Alende been left in power. Pakistan looks to be imploding because people don't want Musharraf in power. I wonder why?
posted by chunking express at 8:26 PM on May 16, 2007


It wasn't a link, amber, but an abbreviation so I could be all subtle about the title property. It refers to my earlier link. I don't think the abbr tag really works here.
posted by taosbat at 8:39 PM on May 16, 2007


ohhhhh
posted by amberglow at 2:18 PM on May 17, 2007






U.S. Pays Pakistan to Fight Terror, but Patrols Ebb-- The United States is continuing to make large payments of roughly $1 billion a year to Pakistan for what it calls reimbursements to the country’s military for conducting counterterrorism efforts along the border with Afghanistan, even though Pakistan’s president decided eight months ago to slash patrols through the area where Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters are most active. ...
posted by amberglow at 4:17 PM on May 19, 2007


Economist May 17: Where, more often, he has had little support for his policies, they have usually failed. In Baluchistan, Pakistan's biggest and poorest province, where legitimate and longstanding local grievances are stoking an insurgency, General Musharraf's solution has been to bomb the place. In the tribal areas, where chronic banditry and Islamist militancy are now complicated by drug money from Afghanistan and global jihad, his heavy-handed intervention has fuelled terrorism across Pakistan. On April 28th the interior minister, Aftab Khan Sherpao, was lucky to survive a suicide bomb in North-West Frontier Province that killed 29 people.

Even with more enlightened policies, solving such problems will take time—almost certainly, more time than the general has. Politics cannot be banished indefinitely, as those corpses in Karachi suggest. And neither, perhaps, can Ms Bhutto.

posted by acro at 7:04 PM on May 20, 2007


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