State of Emergency in Pakistan

pakistan.gifIn the Washington Post, Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid offers an interesting summary of events in Pakistan (which, incidentally, assures the world that its nukes are safe and sound):

President Pervez Musharraf was on the verge of imposing a state of emergency in Pakistan last week before being stopped by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and civilian advisers. It is clear to all in this extremely tense country that power is rapidly flowing away from Musharraf, even as he desperately tries to find a way out of an impossible political impasse.

Declaring a state of emergency would have suspended fundamental rights, placed restrictions on the Supreme Court and delayed this year’s elections. It is unlikely that an already angry and mobilized public would have accepted new restrictions, even those imposed by the army, which Musharraf heads. Massive street protests and further mayhem might have ensued.

After eight years as president, Musharraf is battling for survival, refusing to yield power to civilians yet unable to exert the authority he needs to keep the peace at home and still be a useful ally to the West in rooting out Islamic extremists along the border with Afghanistan.

In recent weeks, Musharraf has considered imposing martial law, has tried to cut a power-sharing deal with exiled former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and has enlisted support from President Bush to dampen the crisis that the country has been in since spring, but nothing has worked.

Bhutto is backing away from any deal, and her aides describe Musharraf as a drowning man.

Read more.

Image: From the CIA World Factbook.

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