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Pakistan: End Emergency Rule and Restore Constitution
(New York, November 4, 2007) – Pakistan should immediately return to constitutional rule, restore fundamental rights and end its crackdown on the judiciary, lawyers, media, human rights activists and political opponents, Human Rights Watch said today. On the pretext of fighting militants, General Musharraf has mounted a coup against Pakistan’s civil society.
General Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani military ruler whose recent election as president had yet to be ratified by the Supreme Court, declared a state of emergency at 5 p.m. on November 3, 2007. Following the declaration, Pakistani authorities arrested hundreds, mostly judges, lawyers, and human rights activists. Musharraf has imposed sweeping censorship rules on the media. All private television channels and international media have been taken off the air.
On November 4, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz suggested that national elections scheduled for January 2008 may be postponed.
“On the pretext of fighting militants, General Musharraf has mounted a coup against Pakistan’s civil society,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Musharraf says the country needs emergency laws to fight fundamentalists, yet the crackdown is focused on the judiciary, lawyers, media and human rights activists. It’s clear this is aimed solely at keeping himself in power.”
On the evening of November 3, a seven-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry convened to issue an order barring the government from proclaiming emergency rule and urging government functionaries not to implement emergency orders. These judges were forcibly removed from the Supreme Court premises by military troops and detained thereafter. Chaudhry, who has led efforts to establish an independent judiciary and had survived an attempt by Musharraf earlier this year to dismiss him, was summarily fired. Read More