Monday, November 5, 2007

Coup in Pakistan

My impression of events in Pakistan is somewhat different from most of what we are reading and hearing. I will possibly have more to say later in the week, but I was not surprised at all by proclamation of a state of emergency, and martial law-- really a second coup d'etat by President Musharraf. I have expected something like it since the President's confrontation with the Supreme Court last spring. My own view of current events in Pakistan is effectively summed-up here.
The Pakistan Supreme Court looked set to rule this week that President Musharraf could not stand for re-election, and that the results of last 6 October's parliamentary re-affirmation of his rule were thus invalid. This would have effectively put paid to the backroom power-sharing scheme between President Musharraf and Madame Bhutto that was favored by Washington. What the good judges thought would happen in the event they effectively nixed the elections -- that is Musharraf and this deal -- is unclear: did the judges really think that a mob of lawyers and politicians, demonstrably incompetent and corrupt, could control the Army and the Islamicist militants, without Musharraf's help ? Civilian governments in Pakistan are historically breathing spaces between military rulers.
"Thousands" are reportedly battling the police. If the protests go beyond the lawyers and the politicos, I will be interested, but for now, the only relevant question is the attitude of the troops and police.

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