The crackdown continues: Pakistani police surround journalists during a protest in Islamabad against Musharraf’s emergency rule.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is showing signs that he’s feeling the heat from the West, loosening his regime’s steel-trap grip by lifting some of the most severe measures he enforced since imposing a state of emergency rule in his country. As of Tuesday morning, in fact, 3,416 people who were jailed during the initial crackdown had been released, according to a government spokesman.
The Los Angeles Times:
Musharraf says the emergency is needed to combat increasingly powerful Islamic militants, but opponents note most of those jailed have been moderates. They say the general suspended the constitution solely to preserve his grip on power by preventing the then-Supreme Court from invalidating his recent re-election as president.
When the reconstituted Supreme Court threw out legal challenges to Musharraf’s re-election Monday, critics denounced the decision as illegitimate and insisted that Musharraf relinquish power to end the country’s political turmoil.
However, the ruling did pave the way for Musharraf to fulfill a promise to quit as army chief and rule as a civilian president, perhaps by the end of the month, and some opposition leaders and analysts said the ruling could prompt the government to ease the emergency.
Also, check out Dawn newspaper columnist Ayaz Amir’s entertainingly ascerbic take on Musharraf’s latest moves—an inside look peppered with some real zingers, such as Amir’s remark that Benazir Bhutto has returned from her “somewhat longish journey into the land of make-believe” and has effectively abandoned the disastrous (in Amir’s estimation) plan of joining forces with Musharraf, which would be “worse than political suicide.”