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Dictator Musharraf does another coup

In a shock news (although events of the past 1-2 days seemed to indicate an event like this happening), President Musharraf was unable to handle the combination of a renewed push by militants to dominate vast areas of the country, a weakened army that seems incapable of handling the militants, and a resurgent democracy movement. But the main pressure point seemed to be the doubt over what the Supreme Court would rule in the case of Musharraf’s Presidential election. The Emergency order declared that security (push by militants) and interference by the judiciary (a supposed declaration of Musharraf’s election as illegal) were the major factors.
This is in effect a second coup by the Army Chief (and there is not the slightest doubt that Musharraf was able to declare emergency since he controls the military). He ignored pressure by the United States to not declare emergency, although given the priorities for the US to fight terrorism, they will slap his wrist but otherwise not take any major decision. In effect, this gives the dictator time to get this army back into a fighting mode; his army is so weakened by the continued religious push inside the army that many soldiers surrendered weakly to the militants, or refused to obey orders.

Now that Musharraf has closed all independent television media, imposed military rule (yet again), suspended the constitution, and removed the Chief Justice (again), it is a matter of political future for Benazir Bhutto. Her deal with the General was very unpopular, and now if she comes back and does not fight him, she will lose much more of her support. Read the BBC report.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who condemned the moves, has been replaced and is being confined to the Supreme Court with 10 other judges. It comes as the court was due to rule on the legality of Gen Musharraf’s re-election victory in October
Pakistan has been engulfed in political upheaval in recent months, and the security forces have suffered a series of blows from pro-Taleban militants opposed to Gen Musharraf’s support for the US-led “war on terror”. The text of the declaration of emergency says that Gen Musharraf has invoked emergency rule because of mounting militant attacks and interference by members of the judiciary.
It ends by saying that the constitution is in “abeyance” – which, according to our correspondent, in effect means that martial law has been imposed, although there is not a heavy security presence on the streets.

Now all depends on the level of public protests. The militants are unlikely to care much for this declaration of emergency, and will continue their efforts to scare the Government into reversing its policy of war against the militants.

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