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Pakistan with Peril
Protests in Pakisatan, AP
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November 9, 2007

The news from Pakistan seems to change by the minute. On November 3, General Musharraf imposed emergency rule, according to the NEW YORK TIMES, "as indications emerged that the country's Supreme Court might rule that he was ineligible to hold both the posts of president and head of the military, following his re-election as president in October." Students and lawyers took to the streets to express outrage over President Pervez Musharraf's suspension of many civil liberties:
  • Constitutional safeguards on life and liberty curtailed
  • Police get wide powers of arrest
  • Suspects can be denied access to lawyers
  • Freedom of movement restricted
  • Private TV stations taken off air
  • New rules curtail media coverage of suicide bombings or militant activity
  • Chief justice replaced, others made to swear oath of loyalty
  • Supreme Court banned from rescinding emergency order
    -Source: BBC News
On November 7, 2007 recently-returned leader Benazir Bhutto — whose homecoming was marred by a deadly bombings — called for General Pervez Musharraf to step down and rescind his order declaring martial law. On November 8, General Musharraf seemed to heed warnings from crucial ally the United States and said he would make sure national elections are held before February 15, 2008. But according to news reports, arrests of Musharraf's opposition continued overnight. Meanwhile as Pakistani media is curtailed the residents are turning online to communicate and disseminate news about the crisis.

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have had an up and down history since Pakistan was founded in 1947. The U.S. has suspended aid to the country numerous times from 1965 through 1999 over issues of regional conflict with India over Kashmir, democracy concerns, nuclear weapons and security issues.

Pakistan has also been named as a crucial ally during the past fifty years and received nearly $12 billion in aid between 1947 and 2000 — and nearly $10 billion dollars more since 9/11. The U.S. Congress has repeatedly allowed President Bush to waive the standing prohibition on aiding governments installed by coup. Congress has called for review of aid to Pakistan in light of the suspension of civil liberties.

Published on November 9, 2007

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References and Reading:
BBC News: "Pakistan's Political Crisis"
Up-to-the-minute reporting from the BBC.

Council on Foreign Relations: Pakistan
Analysis and backgrounders — updated frequently.

FRONTLINE: "Return of the Taliban,"
Web site for a 2006 report on the Taliban and Al Qaeda presence in Pakistan.

NPR: "Pakistan in Crisis"
Ongoing coverage from National Public Radio.

ONLINE NEWSHOUR: "Pakistan Declares Emergency Rule, Detains Lawyers and Dissenters,"
See also the ONLINE NEWSHOUR special: "In-depth Coverage: Pakistan: A Nation Divided," August, 2007

WIDEANGLE: "The Rock Stars and the Mullahs,"
Web site for the 2003 report: For background on Pakistan's political history explore the timeline. Learn more about the regional and ethnic diversity of Pakistan through the interactive map.

"With news banned from TV, Pakistanis find it on the Web," Shahan Mufti, THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, November 7, 2007

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