On Saturday, President Musharraf imposed emergency in Pakistan, claiming the ‘visible ascendancy in the activities of extremists and incidents of terrorist attacks’ as the immediate provocation.
Global media coverage of Pakistan suggests a country consisting of Generals, corrupt politicians and bearded lunatics. The struggle to reinstate the Chief Justice presented a different snapshot of the country. This movement for constitutional freedoms revived hope at a time when most people are alienated from the system and cynical about their rulers, whose ill-gotten wealth and withered faces consumed by vanity inspire nil confidence.
That this is the case can be seen in the heroic decision taken by the Supreme Court in a special session yesterday declaring the new dispensation ‘illegal and unconstitutional’. The hurriedly sworn in new Chief Justice will be seen for what he is: a stooge of the men in uniform. If the constitution remains in suspension for more than three months then Musharraf himself might be pushed aside by the Army and a new strongman put in place. Or it could be that the aim of the operation was limited to a cleansing of the Supreme Court and controlling the media. That is what Musharraf indicated in his broadcast to the nation. In which case a totally rigged election becomes a certainty next January. Whatever the case Pakistan’s long journey to the end of the night continues.
India’s official response, so far, has been cautious, merely asking for a ‘restoration of democracy’, without criticising Musharraf.