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Pakistanis Reflect on Impact of Political Turmoil

The Pakistani government denounced a move by the British Commonwealth suspending its membership and speculation continued over when President Gen. Pervez Musharraf will step down as army chief. Margaret Warner reports from Pakistan on public reaction to the turmoil.

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    Now, the Pakistan story. Margaret Warner is there for us. And today, we hear the reactions of Pakistani citizens to the events of recent weeks.


    President Pervez Musharraf has clamped a state of emergency on Pakistan, but for journalist Hamid Mir the show goes on. The popular talk show host, who's Geo News Network has been yanked from the air, today produced his program, "Capital Talk," for a live audience on the streets of the capital.

    Among his guests, Imran Khan, the opposition leader and former cricket superstar recently released from a week in jail.

    So why did you come all the way to do this program?

    IMRAN KHAN, Pakistan Movement for Justice: To show solidarity with the media, because this is the genuine media in Pakistan, as opposed to the controlled media by the government, to show solidarity with them, and actually to get our views across to the civil society, which is desperate at the moment to fight this dictatorship.


    The crowd that gathered for the taping in front of the Islamabad Press Club was small, but vocal. A large police force came, too, but stayed on the fringes, despite the crowd's call for Musharraf to go.

    Three weeks after Musharraf declared the state of emergency, Pakistanis have had time to reflect on its impact. At the Aabpara Market in the center of town, the immediate challenge today was uprooting the stump of a fallen 60-year-old tree.

    But while the routines of daily life continue here, the artisans and traders working in the market say they've noticed a big drop-off in business since emergency rule was imposed.

    Qaisar Waaseem says his electrical goods store is suffering, and so is Pakistan.

  • QAISAR WAASEEM, Store Owner:

    It's a great collapse of the business.


    And why? Why aren't people coming to buy what you sell here?


    Because people were thinking insecure. He was thinking that they are insecure in this country and they are not going to spend more money. Rather than spending, they are going to keep in reserve. And they want to keep for the black moment this money.


    Musharraf insists his state of emergency is aimed at preventing any "black moment" from engulfing Pakistan, especially from terrorists. But under pressure at home and from abroad, he has pledged to abandon his army uniform when he takes the oath for a new five-year term as president.

    But by week's end, that still hadn't happened. There are nagging doubts here about whether it will and whether Musharraf will have the same power if it does.


    I think it is not convincing me that he can run a regime without a uniform, because he's not a politician. He's not a civil politician. He's an army man. So without his uniform, how he gives orders, how he implements the policies, it is very hard not to pray [ph] for him.