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Pakistan’s Musharraf Gets U.S. Backing for Crackdown Just Days Before Court Decision on Case Challenging His Rule
Monday, November 5, 2007 : In a country-wide crackdown, Musharraf has declared a state of emergency, removed Pakistan’s chief justice and arrested thousands of people. We go to Lahore for reaction from American lawyer Devin Theriot-Orr and speak to Pakistan historian Manan Ahmed.
Pakistan, a key US ally in the so-called war on terror, is in a state of emergency. v Pakistani Army Chief and President General Pervez Musharraf suspended the constitution, replaced the country’s chief justice and declared a state of emergency late Saturday night. The emergency proclamation cites the rise in terrorist violence but also criticizes “the constant interference” of the judiciary in executive function. It states that the judiciary was “overstepping the limits of judicial authority” by meting out “humiliating treatment” to government officials. General Musharraf’s imposition of emergency came days before the Supreme Court was to decide on whether his re-election last month while remaining army chief was valid. All communications were cut in the capital Saturday and independent TV stations are still blacked out. The media is subject to a code of conduct that criminalizes criticism of government officials and any opinion ‘prejudicial to the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan.” Reports indicate that well over a thousand activists and lawyers were detained over the weekend. Leading oppositional figures and prominent voices in the pro-democracy movement have been placed under house arrest. In a 45 minute address on national TV General Musharraf explained his decision to suspend the constitution and compared his actions to Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of civil rights during the American Civil war.
* Excerpt of General Musharraf’s televised address late Saturday night. Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returned to Islamabad over the weekend. This is how she described General Musharraf and his supporters during a telephone interview with reporters on Sunday.
* Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice expressed her concern over the situation in Pakistan at a press conference Sunday in Jerusalem during her visit to Israel. This is some of what she had to say.
* Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. A a press conference Sunday Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz explained that it was “difficult to say” how long the emergency would last.
* Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. For the latest update from Pakistan we are now joined on the phone from Lahore by American lawyer Devin Theriot-Orr. He is currently a Fellow with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan researching jails, detentions and disappearances. He was among the over 70 activists, lawyers, and professors detained at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan office in Lahore on Sunday. Devin Theriot-Orr was released early Monday morning but several others remain in prison. * Devin Theriot-Orr. American lawyer and currently a Fellow with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan researching jails, detentions and disappearances. He was among those arrested Sunday from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan office in Lahore. * Manan Ahmed. Historian of modern Pakistan and South Asian Islam. He blogs at chapati mystery and Juan Cole’s Informed Comment Global Affairs. LISTEN ONLINE