November 17, 2007

PML-Q Wants Emergency Rule Ended

Buried in a report about John Negroponte's visit with Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad is a development that may signal some turbulence for Musharraf in the days and weeks ahead. While Musharraf shrugged off the American envoy's insistence that Musharraf end emergency rule and resign as Army Chief of Staff, he may find the same call from his own party harder to ignore:

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf told a top US diplomat Saturday that he would only call off emergency rule when the security situation improves, a senior presidential aide told AFP.

Musharraf met John Negroponte, number two in the US State Department, for two hours of talks which diplomats had said the US official would use to send "a very strong message" to end the two-week-old state of emergency. ...

Mushahid Hussain, secretary general of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, told Dawn television it would be "appropriate and internationally welcomed" for the emergency to end before elections.

"Lifting the emergency would create a positive atmosphere," he said. "The emergency has a negative impact at home and abroad."

Musharraf may have his support eroding from beneath him. He claims that the emergency rule allows Pakistan to fight the radical Islamist terrorists, but he has mostly ignored them in favor of jailing political dissidents. PML-Q has now begun looking at what their position will be after Musharraf's eventual exit from power, and they know that they will have little credibility in free and fair elections if they support emergency rule any longer. With their call for a return to political freedom, Musharraf may have lost a vital strut for his personal power.

The crackdown on dissent continues to expand. Two large private news channels, Geo and ARYOne, had to shut down their operations in Pakistan. Geo has a loop of its logo being tossed on stormy seas with a graphic that says, "Please inform them" underneath.

Musharraf promises a major offensive against the radical Islamists any day now. The army announced that operations would begin almost immediately in the Swat area, against followers of Maulana Fazlullah, who has called for a violent uprising against Musharraf. Five days of skirmishing have left over 100 dead, but still no major operation has begun in Swat.

If Musharraf wants to quiet the US, he had better start moving against the terrorists. At some point, we will figure that we can do no more harm to the Musharraf government than Musharraf is doing, and we'll start taking care of the trouble in Waziristan directly.


TrackBack URL for this entry: