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International | Government & Elections | Police State and Prisons

Thousands Arrested in Pakistan Defying Musharraf’s Crackdown
by via Democracy Now
Tuesday Nov 6th, 2007 6:30 PM
Tuesday, November 6, 2007 : Thousands of lawyers, human rights activists and journalists were tear-gassed, beaten and arrested Monday for protesting what they describe as nothing short of martial law. We go to Pakistan to speak with journalist Farzana Fiaz.
And now we turn to Pakistan. It has been three days since General Pervez Musharraf imposed a state of emergency, and the crackdown continues. Thousands of lawyers, human rights activists and journalists were teargassed, beaten and arrested Monday for protesting what they describe as nothing short of martial law.

Over forty-eight hours after the crisis erupted, President Bush made his first public comments Monday, following a White House meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. He did not mention cuts in aid to Pakistan but urged General Pervez Musharraf to hold elections. Pakistan has received over $10.5 billion dollars in US aid since September 11, 2001, three-quarters of which goes to the military, according to figures from the Washington, DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

This is an excerpt of President Bush’s statement.

  • President Bush.
Responding to reporters’ questions Monday, President Bush again reiterated the need to continue supporting General Musharraf, given his key role as an ally in the so-called war on terror.

  • President Bush.
Earlier on Monday, General Musharraf also spoke out from Islamabad. In an address on state-run television, the General emphasized that his proclamation of emergency was designed to “ensure the implementation of the transition” to civilian rule and democratic elections in Pakistan.

  • General Pervez Musharraf.
In a separate statement Monday, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz also reversed his earlier position that general elections could be delayed by a year. He asserted Monday that they would take place within three months, as scheduled.

Back in the White House, the crisis in Pakistan was the main focus of Monday’s press briefing.

  • White House Press Secretary Dana Perino.

For the latest update from Pakistan, we are joined on the phone from Lahore by freelance British journalist Farzana Fiaz. She has been reporting from Pakistan for the Associated Press and BBC since March.

  • Farzana Fiaz. Freelance British journalist based in Lahore, Pakistan.

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