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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Another Emergency in LoP

How Does an Emergency in a Military Dictatorship Work?

Apparently this time Emergency was declared by the civilian president, Gen Musharraf. The previous crisis was precipitated by the General, then as the general, when he sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. With massive street protests and Lal Masjid debacle and growing dissatisfaction within the LoP, the General wiggled out the crisis by making the deal with Benazir Bhutto.

With American backing, Benazir thought she could come back and loot a few more billions before running back to London where her expensive headscarf and Oxford education make her an automatic westerner, despite her corruption and mal-administration. The plan didn't work out the way she wanted. Since the last time she was in LoP, the country has changed. Terrorists colluding with ISI mass murdered nearly 200 people in her procession on the day of her arrival. She stuck around for few more days making more enemies than friends in the country. Now, conveniently, she is in Dubai to see friends and family! Less said about that other leader, Nawaz Sharif, the better.

Raising everyones hope for democracy, at least the sham one LoP always had, Gen. Musharraf worked overtime to diffuse the previous crisis with active American State Department in the background. But the chief justice was back in business and the future for the General is not clear. If the Supreme Court nullified the sham presidential election of making Gen. Musharraf the president, the General will be without a role - he had already appointed his friend and buddy, Lieutenant General Pervez Ashfaq Kiyani, as Chief of Army Staff. But once in power, with himself being out of power, because of Supreme Court, who know what Gen. Kiyani would do.

Leaving the country's, Benazir's, and American hopes in tatters, General (not retired yet) Musharraf acted. He shut down the Supreme Court and nominally took over government radio and TV stations while shutting down the private ones (including the one that has a transgender has a host! - we were told, with no sense of irony, that made LoP more progressive then Bharat). I say nominally because the military already controls all administrative aspects of LoP's government.

So the military administration imposed an emergency on itself to control those institutions that were slipping away - like that increasingly independent Supreme Court. Now there won't be mass demonstrations to bring back Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. Now there can be a rubber stamp as new chief justice. Benazir can go back to London from Dubai - dashing her hopes of milking few more billions from LoP. The Americans can be talked out of tough situations because, frankly there is nothing they can do. All hurdles are removed for the Gen. Musharraf. Until of course, a military C-130 crashes for some inexplicable reason as it happened when Gen. Zia Ul-Haq overstayed the LoP Army's welcome in power.

Update: A new rubber stamp chief justice is in place already.

Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, who was one of the judges in the bench that heard the case against Chaudhry, was appointed the new Chief Justice and was sworn-in. Five other judges took fresh oath under the emergency proclamation. [PTI - The Hindu]