The excitement is over. Pakistan is finally under a state of emergency. It had been on cards for quite some time but mid-morning calls from Condy Rice -- in the past -- procrastinated the announcement. I reckon, Mush could hold it no more. Permission from DC came in the end. A public statement by White House [official] can safely be ignored. The military has completely taken over now, as I post [18:30 IST], while the constitution has been put under an animated suspension.
Fundamental rights may go out of the window. That is often the first causality in such a scenario. The judiciary will now be effectively muzzled and the freshly active political parties will go back to their cocoon. Media would be put on a tight leash. The all-powerful Pakistan army is now expected to flex its muscles and a heavy crack down on the gun-totting bad-guys is imminent.
Mush is shortly expected to address the nation explaining reasons for imposition of emergency. I think a new temporary constitution called provisional constitutional order (PCO) will come into effect. It would replace the original constitution of Pakistan. Under Pakistani law, emergency can be imposed only when the security of the country is under threat. The PCO gives sweeping powers to the Prez.
Looks like Mush took the extreme step because Pakistan was fast slipping into anarchy. Extremists were on the prowl. Everywhere. They first attacked Benazir’s convoy, killing 150. Then they struck near the Prez house, another daring suicide attack. Emboldened, a few days later they ripped apart an air force bus, killing a dozen officers. An antiquated radical culture was taking root. Balochistan is on boil. The insurgency in the volatile NWPF is spearheaded by the Tanzim Nifaz Shariat-i-Mohammadi (TNSM), a banned Islamic organization. In Swat, armed tribals have been parading captured Pakistani troops like prized trophies. This was clearly sending a wrong signal in the command and control.
As if it was not enough, an increasingly active judiciary, which has been looking into the petitions filed against Mush’s re-run for presidency was making more trouble for him. The Supreme Court was expected to deliver a verdict validating/invalidating his second term as Prez in the next couple of days. Also the much talked about American backed deal with Ms Bhutto, it now appears, was not working out.
As we wait for a word from Mush, Democracy in Pakistan has been put on the backburner. The activist CJ of Pakistan’s Supreme Court can now water his manicured lawns. A new CJ may be sworn in any moment. Nawaz can stay put in the Jeddah palace. The radical blokes in the NWFP should now gear up for a tough, long, bloody fight including aerial attacks [complete with laser guided precision bombs] with the Pakistan military.
Reports are coming in that Benazir is on her way back to Pakistan from Dubai where she had gone to see her family. The tribals, calling for imposition of Sharia [Religious rule] in the sensitive Swat, have a visceral hatred for both Bhutto and Mush, whom they see as America's gophers.
Can Mush tame the ultraists? Does the deal with Bhutto still hold? Pakistani politics, as ever, remains ever so unpredictable. Bizzare.