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November 3, 2007 10:53 PM   Subscribe

“I will not let my country commit suicide,” says General Pervez Musharraf in an address to the nation, after declaring Martial Law, in Pakistan, yesterday night. Benazir Bhutto, who had earlier returned to the country to a large reception (and whose convoy was later attacked) along with former Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff, have condemned the act.
posted by hadjiboy (61 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not really a big surprise int the long run, Musharraf is but the latest in a long string of US backed strongmen who, because they happen to also hate some of the same people as Washington has gotten near carte blanche to do whatever they want with our tacit approval. I just wish we could friggen stop repeating the same mistakes of the past 150 years over and over.
posted by edgeways at 11:02 PM on November 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


"I had to take this decison in order to preserve the democratic transition I initiated 8 years ago. "

BULLSHIT DETECTOR SEEKING TARGET.....

"I was launching the third phase of transition to be completed in just 3 months where complete democracy, return to civil rule, with myself being a civilian president."

BULLSHIT DETECTOR ... FIRE!
posted by mattoxic at 11:04 PM on November 3, 2007


Thanks for putting this up; I heard something about this on the news this morning and didn't have a chance to follow-up on it until now.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, especially the international response given the fact that Pakistan is considered a partner in the efforts in Afghanistan and the War on Terror. I see the problems from the US perspective have already been analyzed.

I'm going to hope that this gets resolved without anyone getting hurt, but some part of me knows that its already too late for that.
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:09 PM on November 3, 2007


That deal now appears to have come unstuck.

Washington though clearly had the inside scoop on Musharraf's impending moves.

Besides sending Fallon and Jordan's King Abdulla to persuade Musharraf not to go down the Emergency route, the US also baled out its current prima donna Benazir Bhutto, who fled to Dubai hours before the military action, ostensibly to meet her family.

But the scuttlebutt in Islamabad and Washington is that Benazir -- and the US -- knew the crackdown was coming, and she was advised to leave. How Washington will handle this public defiance by Musharraf of the line it laid down -- besides defying popular opinion in Pakistan -- will unravel over the next week.

Musharraf's journey from Washington's poster boy to possibly its problem child has been gradual but understated. Publicly, the Bush administration still swears by him; privately, it began swearing at him some months back when reports first surfaced that he was holding back on Washington in its war on terror.
posted by hadjiboy at 11:19 PM on November 3, 2007


How Washington will handle this public defiance by Musharraf of the line it laid down -- besides defying popular opinion in Pakistan -- will unravel over the next week.

My bet is that "unravel" will be prove to be a depressingly apt word choice.
posted by Iridic at 11:25 PM on November 3, 2007


Yeah, Washington's not going to do a thing.

"Oh, that's too bad."
posted by blacklite at 11:35 PM on November 3, 2007


He has been looking more and more like a dictator as of late as his hold on power was being threatened and now, ....
posted by caddis at 12:00 AM on November 4, 2007


Bush is taking notes... "Oh, so that's how you do it..."
posted by wendell at 12:02 AM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


But wait... I thought Musharraf was one of the good dictators. Surely the Bush Administration would never have knowingly recruited Pakistan in the War On Terror and sent gift baskets full of money and guns if they'd thought the nation was run by enemies of democracy? Why that would almost seem hypocritical and foolishly liable to blow up in our faces.

But of course it would be in keeping with the practice of many previous administrations of all stripes. We never allow silly little details like whether a sovereign country's government came to power as the result of an election or a military coup prevent us from doing business with them (or prevent us from deposing said government... why is it again that Chávez hates Bush so much? Or Iran hates the U.S. so much? A little reap-what-ye-sow action goin' on here, anybody?)

Sorry for the fit, I know I'm preaching to the choir here.
posted by XMLicious at 12:05 AM on November 4, 2007


hey, Pakistan coming unglued, Turkey coming unglued.

Solution: war with Iran.
posted by telstar at 12:12 AM on November 4, 2007 [5 favorites]


I don't get it, isn't the whole raison d'etre of the U.S. policy in the region the establishment of democracy? Isn't that the *replacement* reason for The War in Iraq, the rhetoric toward Iran and Syria? Backing Pervez et al surely doesn't help the cause. But then again, that's what MOAB is for I suppose.
posted by mattoxic at 12:34 AM on November 4, 2007


In a Saturday night address to the nation, Musharraf said he took the actions "for the good of Pakistan," stressing the country was threatened by rising tensions and spreading terrorism.

Bhutto said she agreed with his diagnosis, but not the cure.


"I believe it is dictatorship which has fueled extremism," she said by telephone from her home.

"Dictatorship feeds off extremism and extremism feeds off dictatorship. Dictatorship needs the extremist threat to justify itself in power."

"He chose to have a military solution and that is not good," Bhutto said of Musharraf.

Bhutto, who leads the Pakistan People's Party, hopes to gain a third term as prime minister after January's parliamentary elections, possibly under a power-sharing deal with Musharraf.

"I had hoped to work with Gen. Musharraf in taking our country toward a civilian rule," she said.

"At the moment I am at a loss to say how Gen. Musharraf and I would work together because he has declared martial law," she said. "It's very difficult to work with a military dictator."


She is looking to take him on, but this section from the Wikipedia article on her is troubling: The Taliban took power in Kabul in September 1996. It was during Bhutto's rule that the Taliban gained prominence in Afghanistan. She viewed the Taliban as a group that could stabilize Afghanistan and enable trade access to the Central Asian republics.[11] Her government provided military and financial support for the Taliban, even sending a very small unit of the Pakistani army into Afghanistan.[12]
Recently, she has taken an anti-Taliban stance and has condemned terrorist acts committed by the Taliban and their supporters.

posted by caddis at 12:35 AM on November 4, 2007


Bhutto is an opportunist, and power monger. It's hard to know if she would be better than Musharraf. Bhitto's father was a former Prime Minister who was killed after a militray coup (not Musharraf's).

She was a sentimental favorite, riding on her father's popularity. She has always been a disappointment.

What did she do for Pakistan? Practically nothing.

The citizens in places like Pakistan deserve better than these upper-class politicians who perpetuate poverty and ignorance. It's a sad, sad thing to see so many people suffer in ignorance, while the so-called "elite" lead them down the faded primrose path to more pverty and destitution, while the latter line their pockets.
posted by MetaMan at 1:04 AM on November 4, 2007


Pakistan: farewell to democracy
posted by Abiezer at 1:22 AM on November 4, 2007


The lesson Iran is learning is that if they're somehow able to acquire nuclear weapons, the US will support their leaders in anything they do.
posted by mullingitover at 1:53 AM on November 4, 2007 [5 favorites]


It's not actually Martial Law, quite.
posted by Phanx at 2:32 AM on November 4, 2007


Why do I get the feeling that in the next ten years the term "low intensity nuclear war" is going to come into common usage?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:34 AM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


I agree with MetaMan: Bhutto is an opportunist, and power monger.

Being a woman, you'd think she'd actually do something to spearhead the women's movement, but she did the exact opposite.
posted by hadjiboy at 3:17 AM on November 4, 2007


Why do I get the feeling that in the next ten years the term "low intensity nuclear war" is going to come into common usage?

cuz the US might have nuked syria?

btw...

agonist coverage: U.S. is unlikely to halt aid~ well surprise surprise..not

previously:
Since Monday, American and European diplomats have been urging the embattled president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to refrain from imposing emergency rule to maintain his hold on power, a Western diplomat said today.

“What they are saying is that this would put in jeopardy all kinds of assistance and support,” said the Western diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It would be just very difficult to support this government.”
Bush is taking notes...

Media ‘promoting negativism’
Country’s ‘integrity at stake’

‘Emergency to end judicial activism’
Arrests under way in Pakistan
posted by kliuless at 3:45 AM on November 4, 2007


The fact that Pakistan has nukes makes the whole thing vastly more complex than it might otherwise be. And, of course, Bush trashed the non-proliferation treaty WRT India, apparently just for shits and grins, which adds another dimension to the whole mess.

But, as has been pointed out many times before, despite rehtoric to the contraray it is self-evident by US action that, long before Bush jr got appointed president, the USA has always prefered to deal with dictators rather than democracies, and has actively worked to prevent democracy from spreading.

The paranoid part of me has always wondered if it isn't sheer stupidity, or an inability to see the pattern, but rather a desire for a steady stream of new enemies that motivated this bizarre and, genuinely, anti-American foreign policy.

Remember that just as the US government today tries to sell Musharraf as a good guy who helps our war in X place, so too back in the 1980's the US government sold Saddam Hussain as a good guy who helps our war in X place.

And of course the reason we needed Hussain was because the CIA had successfully overthrown the democratically elected government of Iran and installed the dictatorial Shah, until he couldn't hold power any longer and the vastly more radical current Iranian government kicked his dictator ass out.

Sounds like the old lady who swallowed the fly, no?

But really, the tone of shock and surprise in the media on this subject strains credulity. No one expected Musharraf to magically stop being a military dictator and let Pakistan out from under his brutal thuggery, and the fact that they're pretending that they did is an insult to our intelligence. He's a vile dictator today, he was a vile dictator last week, and he was a vile dictator last year, nothing is new here except that he's dropped the mask a bit.

I will add this: I don't, really, think that Bush is taking notes and planning on taking similar action next year. I don't think that even a nuke going off in a major US city would spook us into letting him try. But if he does, I'm joining the revolution.
posted by sotonohito at 3:54 AM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


from June: America's Bad Deal With Musharraf, Going Down in Flames -- ... Current and past U.S. officials tell me that Pakistan policy is essentially being run from Cheney's office. The vice president, they say, is close to Musharraf and refuses to brook any U.S. criticism of him. This all fits; in recent months, I'm told, Pakistani opposition politicians visiting Washington have been ushered in to meet Cheney's aides, rather than taken to the State Department.
...With Cheney in charge and Rice in eclipse, rumblings of alarm can be heard at the Defense Department and the CIA. ... Pakistan today is the center of global Islamic terrorism, with Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mohammad Omar probably living here.
Instead of confronting this threat, the army has focused on keeping Musharraf in power ...

posted by amberglow at 3:56 AM on November 4, 2007


spearhead the women's movement,

spearhead! (being the operative word ;)

but she did the exact opposite.

just like a woman! that's what happens when you let women exert their independence... so unpredictable :P
posted by kliuless at 3:57 AM on November 4, 2007


Semi-non-sequitor: Did Nostradamus predict this? (Don't laugh!) Or some other end-times prophecy? When I heard this on the radio, I felt a strange sense of alarm, like "this is just what they said would happen." Is this something I actually heard on the History Channel, or am I going crazy?
posted by salvia at 4:07 AM on November 4, 2007


It was hard to go past this paragraph in the NYT article:

He accused the country’s Supreme Court of releasing 61 men who he said were under investigation for terrorist activities. “Judicial activism,” he said, had demoralized the security forces, hurt the fight against terrorism and slowed the spread of democracy. “Obstacles are being created in the way of democratic process,” he said, “I think for vested, personal interests, against the interest of the country.”

How old is the phrase "judicial activism"? Is it of American origin? Recent American origin?
posted by stammer at 4:45 AM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why yes he did, salvia:

Through an object the eye will swell very much, Burning so much that the snow will fall: The fields watered will come to shrink, As the primate succumbs at Reggio.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:57 AM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


stammer: Although a quick googling suggests that it is American in origin, "judicial activism" as a phrase is rather popular in India; I happen to believe that lots of public good has come out of that. The last link has an interesting mention of dictator (Indira Gandhi) versus judiciary power-plays in India in the 1970's.
posted by the cydonian at 5:18 AM on November 4, 2007


Barnett Rubin and Manan Ahmed have been blogging about this over at Juan Cole's group blog.
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:33 AM on November 4, 2007


Semi derail, but the Al-Jazeera piece on Syria states an Phantom F4 was involved. I'm amazed these are still flying[?]
posted by mattoxic at 5:54 AM on November 4, 2007


Nostradamus didn't predict it, but Nostrildamus did.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 6:18 AM on November 4, 2007


Well, it's official, the elections are off.
posted by caddis at 6:23 AM on November 4, 2007


All those "The Constitution is not a suicide pact" mofos might get to see some real-world slippery-slope application of their beliefs now.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 6:27 AM on November 4, 2007


It goes both ways, stammer. Read down to the link about the Republican Base". "Al Qaeda" is arabic for "Base".
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:20 AM on November 4, 2007


Pakistan is considered a partner in the efforts in Afghanistan and the War on Terror

Where the Jihad Lives Now: "Islamic militants have spread beyond their tribal bases, and have the run of an unstable, nuclear-armed nation."
posted by kirkaracha at 8:49 AM on November 4, 2007


After Musharraf: "What the future holds for Pakistan--and for America." Interview with the author.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:31 AM on November 4, 2007


On another front: Remember, remember the fifth of November: Bush meeting with Erdogan
posted by homunculus at 10:01 AM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


isn't the whole raison d'etre of the U.S. policy in the region the establishment of democracy? ...Backing Pervez et al surely doesn't help the cause.

Neither does backing Saudi or Israel. But we're in the middle of a long transition out of our Cold War strategy in the Mideast, which was to back anyone who wasn't already aligning themselves with the Soviets.

That's at least a straightforward proposition. I frankly don't quite get what we're transitioning to. Some muddled mix of supporting democracy (perhaps we are tired of entrenched dictators holding our interests hostage?) and fighting terrorism (a bullshit smokescreen trotted out only to get the bovine american to swallow what Bushco needs them to) and leveraging the remnants of the Cold War era as best we can for our short and mid term needs.
posted by scarabic at 9:08 AM on November 4, 2007


Ah. From the mouths of children. Remember during the 2000 debates when bush couldn't name Musharaff? "Uh. The General?"

Then when it was expedient and necessary to separate OUR dictators from their dictators, The General miraculously was transmogrified to "The President."

Looks like The General was lurking inside all along, huh.
posted by tkchrist at 9:35 AM on November 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


MetaMan writes "The citizens in places like Pakistan deserve better than these upper-class politicians who perpetuate poverty and ignorance."

Maybe they do deserve it, but can they afford one or produce themselves a class of leaders ? I try not to look condescendingly at Pakistanis because I seriously doubt our masses would be able to express their own intellectual and cultural achievements with some enlightened leadership. I look at my country and at how we were able to be led into Berlusconi's guide, who paved the way for more of the same leadership, but with different facade.

Similarly, in US, Bush was propelled by well done propaganda, jingoism, cirmustances and a somewhat depressive distate with anything political...probably because of the fall of pro-forma ideals, the abrupt realization that capital have a lot more weight in decisions than it should.

And one can see how conductive this is to seeing the less fortunate, primitive and uncivilized minions in Pakistanis or Iraquis. We like to correlate their economical misery to their advancement, so that in comparison we feel better ; yet I don't think we are expressing the best in our own political backyard and surely we are not "exporting democracy"
posted by elpapacito at 9:45 AM on November 4, 2007


pretty funny, sebastienbailard. I'm still trying to track down the kooky prophecy site that included something like this as one of the "signs."
posted by salvia at 10:22 AM on November 4, 2007


I betcha Musharraf's Orwellian language/phrasing was written/edited/vetted in DC, and that our flow of military aid never stops--and that this will be what Bush says when he tries it here.
posted by amberglow at 10:46 AM on November 4, 2007


The Taliban took power in Kabul in September 1996. It was during Bhutto's rule that the Taliban gained prominence in Afghanistan. She viewed the Taliban as a group that could stabilize Afghanistan and enable trade access to the Central Asian republics.[11] Her government provided military and financial support for the Taliban, even sending a very small unit of the Pakistani army into Afghanistan.[12]

Yeah, anyone who supported the Taliban must be fucked in the head.
posted by John of Michigan at 11:33 AM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


How old is the phrase "judicial activism"? Is it of American origin? Recent American origin?

This article says it was coined by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. in 1947.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:33 PM on November 4, 2007


It's Reagan and Ferdinand Marcos all over again.
posted by brownpau at 5:06 PM on November 4, 2007


Rice Adviser: Pakistan’s Crackdown on Dissent is ‘Small Favor’ That Makes ‘Iraq Look Pretty Good’
posted by homunculus at 6:47 PM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


THE dramatic chain of events unfolding in Pakistan bears striking similarities to the events in Myanmar since late September.
posted by homunculus at 11:53 AM on November 5, 2007


Musharraf Uses U.S. Cash to Fight India
posted by homunculus at 2:13 PM on November 5, 2007


The next GOP president will be invading them--do they have oil?

And i can't believe Musharraf didn't even edit the script they sent him--Abraham Lincoln???? Does Lincoln have some relevance for Pakistan? There are no local heroes? (And this script will be used by Bush and Cheney here if it works there--watch)
posted by amberglow at 3:08 PM on November 5, 2007


The Freedom Agenda Fizzles: How George Bush and Condoleezza Rice made a mess of Pakistan.
posted by homunculus at 2:11 PM on November 6, 2007


Bush’s Musharraf Envy--... Musharraf’s moves were crafted to echo Bush’s own rhetoric: his denigration of lawyers, courts and judges, and his steady erosion of constitutional rights in order to bolster his own war-making powers. If Bush can play this game, Musharraf thought, why can’t I? But apart from his religious salutations, Musharraf’s speech could almost have been given by Dick Cheney at his next visit to a Whites-only country club. Musharraf’s main speech even evoked Abraham Lincoln in language that could have been taken straight from the pages of the Weekly Standard. They hit their target....
posted by amberglow at 3:27 PM on November 6, 2007


Musharraf Fights Political Foes, Ignores Jihadists
posted by homunculus at 7:27 PM on November 6, 2007


USA v. Pakistan---Dictatorship? Democracy? You Can't Tell Without A Program!
posted by amberglow at 6:44 AM on November 7, 2007


U.S. Aid to Musharraf is Largely Untraceable Cash Transfers
posted by homunculus at 7:16 PM on November 7, 2007


...In Pakistan's case, the only oversight is an annual agreement, known as the Shared Objectives statement, whereby top State Department and Treasury Department officials receive from Musharraf deputies -- usually Prime Minister Shawkat Aziz -- an explanation of how Musharraf intends to spend the money. The agreement is reached entirely in secret. ...

Surprise, surprise. The billions we've thown away into Iraq are the same. What bank do crooks, tribal warlords, and dictators favor most? A Swiss one or some Dubai thing? A Saudi one?
posted by amberglow at 8:25 PM on November 7, 2007


Bush Stands by His Dictator
posted by homunculus at 2:24 PM on November 14, 2007


U.S. Secretly Aids Pakistan in Guarding Nuclear Arms
posted by homunculus at 10:31 PM on November 18, 2007


This Sounds Like a Really Fun Mission
posted by homunculus at 10:19 AM on November 19, 2007


Deception: British Reporter Adrian Levy on How the United States Secretly Helped Pakistan Build Its Nuclear Arsenal
posted by homunculus at 1:27 PM on November 19, 2007


The Bush Administration knew that Pakistani strongman Pervez Musharraf planned to institute emergency rule but did not act or speak out about the plan, ...
posted by amberglow at 6:01 AM on November 23, 2007


mattoxic - the F4 still flys to this day but not to my knowledge in a combat role. The F-4G Wild Weasel was a SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defence) aircraft but as far as I know it's been replaced in that role by the Block 50 F-16D.

On topic - It really is no surprise to see this happening in Pakistan and again this has got to hammer home the problems the Coalition is going to have in Afghanistan, not to mention the obvious concerns about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Why does it seem that every time something like this happens that the people who are in government are surprised? Do they have common sense surgically removed during some sort of induction process?
posted by longbaugh at 7:35 AM on November 23, 2007


In other news: Afghanistan 'falling into hands of Taliban'

· Frontline getting closer to Kabul, says thinktank
· Aid not going to those who need it most, warns Oxfam
posted by homunculus at 12:20 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why does it seem that every time something like this happens that the people who are in government are surprised? Do they have common sense surgically removed during some sort of induction process?

longbaugh, they're lying (badly), and they're well aware of everything--if not orchestrating it themselves. Musharraf's speech was written here, for just one telling detail. We're fine with this dictator, as usual--Bush is probably using this as a trial run for here next year too.
posted by amberglow at 1:31 PM on November 24, 2007


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