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International | Government & Elections | Police State and Prisons

Bhutto Calls for Musharraf to Step down. Put under House Arrest
by juan cole (reposted)
Tuesday Nov 13th, 2007 7:28 AM
From a Tuesday, November 13, 2007 entry on Informed Comment, Juan Cole's blog

Bhutto Calls for Musharraf to Step down
Put under House Arrest

Opposition politician Benazir Bhutto has called for Gen. Pervez Musharraf to resign as president of Pakistan, and says she will never serve as prime minister under him. He put her back under house arrest on Tuesday.

My guess is that Benazir Bhutto will now be deported by Musharraf. He only let her back into the country under pressure from Secretary of State Condi Rice in the first place because she made a deal to cohabit with him politically.

However annoyed the Bush administration may be with Musharraf for letting the veil of 'democracy' drop and revealing clearly what a dictator he is, I can't imagine Washington backing Ms. Bhutto against the Pakistani military!

More on Pakistan and Afghanistan at the Global Affairs blog from Manan Ahmed and Barnett Rubin.

§Going Public
by Informed Comment Global Affairs (reposted) Tuesday Nov 13th, 2007 7:32 AM
From a Tuesday, November 13, 2007 entry on Informed Comment Global Affairs, a group blog run by Juan Cole, Manan Ahmed, Farideh Farhi, and Barnett R. Rubin

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The tide seems to be receding. The protests are not spreading beyond the lawyers and the students. The opposition parties have had no luck mobilizing. Benazir Bhutto's me-first strategy is d.o.a. That robust media, Aaj TV, Geo TV, ARY TV remain inaccessible to the majority of the population. The Supreme Court justices are in house arrest. The majority of the opposition is under strict duress. The General has made a series of announcements while jiggling his Google Calendar and seems to be announcing something for January. Enough, in any case, to placate the White House.

Is it over? This nascent movement for democracy and freedom.

It is, if you conceive of it as an instant reaction to an authoritarian step - a flash of anger and frustration that is slowly simmering back down. It is, if you believe that the lawyers and the students represent rather insulated factions of the overall society who do not effect life in a significant enough manner for "ordinary Pakistanis". There is a lot of circumstantial evidence that Musharraf's crackdown on "information" is working. He has sequestered most of the trouble makers. He has cut off any public discussion. He is threatening to try civilians in military tribunals. And the only possible alternatives look like Benazir Bhutto. These are indeed massive odds.

Yet, I do not believe that these are KwiK E Protests that will just go away. Think back to the amazing crowds - hundreds of thousands - that mobilized for the Chief Justice. Think also of those reports about the unpopularity of Musharraf, the fall from grace of the Pakistan Army, the growing discontent about the state of affairs in Pakistan. None of that has changed. None of those miseries have gone away. The Baluchistan crisis is now the Swat and Baluchistan crisis. The Islamists have not disappeared.

These nascent protests will not go away. In fact, they have awakened a new segment of the civil society against The General. A fact that is abundantly clear to those inside.