Pakistan Crackdown Intensifies
The government of President Pervez Musharraf has expanded its crackdown on democratic institutions in Pakistan, detaining political rivals as well as journalists and rights advocates. Condoleezza Rice, meanwhile, has hinted that the U.S. will likely continue to send billions of dollars in aid to the increasingly dictatorial regime, although Rice reiterated on Monday that Musharraf should relinquish his position as Pakistan’s top military leader if he is to continue to hold office as president.
For a local perspective, check in with Pakistan’s Jang newspaper group and Dawn newspaper, or check out Dawn columnist Ayaz Amir‘s prescient take on his country’s burgeoning political crisis, published just one day before President Musharraf imposed emergency rule.
New York Times:
The Bush administration signaled Sunday that it would probably keep billions of dollars flowing to Pakistan’s military, despite the detention of human rights advocates and leaders of the political opposition by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the country’s president.
In carefully calibrated public statements and blunter private acknowledgments about the limits of American leverage over General Musharraf, the man President Bush has called one of his most critical allies, the officials argued that it would be counterproductive to let Pakistan’s political turmoil interfere with their best hope of ousting Al Qaeda’s central leadership and the Taliban from the country’s mountainous tribal areas.
Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that while the United States would “have to review the situation with aid,” she said three times that President Bush’s first concern was “to protect America and protect American citizens by continuing to fight against terrorists.”
Pakistan’s government on Sunday executed a nationwide crackdown on the political opposition, the news media and the courts, one day after President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule and suspended the constitution.
Police throughout the country raided the homes of opposition party leaders and activists, arresting at least 500. Top lawyers were also taken into custody, and 70 activists were detained at the offices of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in the eastern city of Lahore. Police confiscated the equipment of journalists covering the raid and ordered them to leave the premises. All independent television news stations remained off the air for a second straight day. The prime minister, meanwhile, said that elections could be delayed for up to a year.