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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Emergency Imposed in Pakistan: Harbinger of Change or More of the Same? - Updated

Aamir Qureshi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

After weeks of speculation and political unrest Gen. Pervez Musharraf has finally imposed "Emergency" in Pakistan, suspended the 1973 constitution and disbanded the Supreme and High Courts just days ahead of an announcement by the SC on the issue of the legality of his recent election to the Presidency by the outgoing Assemblies. Earlier he had renewed his promise to give up the command of the Army By November 15,2007. Declaration of Emergency is one step short of declaring Martial Law.

The SC Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry has been stripped of his office and Justice Doggar has been sworn in as the new Chief Justice under the Provisional Constitutional Order. In Sind, Justice Soomro has been sworn is as th new High Court Chief Justice by Governor Ishrat ul Ibad.

Citing the Justices meddling in government affairs Musharraf said, "A situation has thus arisen where the government of the country cannot be carried on in accordance with the Constitution, and as the Constitution provides no solution for the situation, there is no way out except through emergent and extraordinary measures." (The Hindu quoting PTI)

Benazir who had hopped over to nearby Dubai to see her children had shortened her trip and returned to Pakistan. At the time of this report her plane is on the tarmac in Karachi and her fate is unknown. The Chairperson for life's residence is surrounded by Rangers.

With the 1973 Constitution in abeyance (suspended is the word they used), the elections due in January 2008 can be postponed for up to one year by extending the life of the National and Provincial Assemblies. And the General can govern through Ordinances.

Unconfirmed reports suggest former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary and President-elect of the Supreme Court Bar Association Aitezaz Hasan are in custody as are some of the leaders of peripheral political parties.

The General is also reported to address the nation sometime tonight Pakistan time. We will continue to update this report.

Update 1 Quote from retired Justice Wahiduddin
"The emergency has been set aside by the eight member bench and as of now there is legally no emergency. It is just not just the Supreme Court but a huge section of the army that is not interested in the emergency. If I know the armed forces well and I have my sources, the Pakistan army is very much for the Constitution and the rule of the law," he said. Justice Wahiduddin refused to take oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order in 2002 and chose to retire. While Iftikhar Chaudhary who was fired today did take that oath.

The United States has termed the events 'disappointing'.

update 2

Benazir Bhutto, Chairperson for life of PPP has reached her home in Karachi and has just ended a press conference in which she repeatedly used the term martial law throughout instead of emergency.

There are significant differences between the two.

Other than that, she reiterated her oft repeated demands of 'free and fair elections, independent judiciary, absence of terrorist acts during her last reign. She seems to reinforce an observation that she has some ways to go yet to fully absorb ground reality changes in Pakistan in the wake of 9/11.

update 3
Quotes from Pakistani and World leaders on the Emergency LINK

Quotes from citizens in Pakistan LINK (Please scroll down)

update 4

Beena Sarwar's article

Beena's Update # 1 from Karachi

update 5

Islamabad friend SR's opinion

update 6

Beena's Update # 2 from Karachi


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