December 15, 2007

Emergency Rule Lifted In Pakistan

Pervez Musharraf lifted the emergency decree under which he ruled for six weeks as promised. The action clears the way for national elections in the second week of January, but the nation's largest Islamist party withdrew its candidates from the parliamentary races, claiming fraud:

President Pervez Musharraf lifted Pakistan's six-week-old state of emergency and restored the constitution Saturday, easing a crackdown that has enraged opponents and worried Western supporters.

Information Minister Nisar Memon said Musharraf had signed the order lifting the emergency. He called it a "historic day" and said next month's parliamentary elections would cement the country's return to democracy. ....

Jamaat-e-Islami — Pakistan's largest Islamic party — withdrew its 130 candidates for Parliament and 450 nominations for provincial assemblies in protest against Musharraf's dismissal of judges, spokesman Ameerul Azim said.

"This is a fraud election. We are boycotting unless the judges are restored," he said.

Thus far, JI is the only party boycotting the elections. Both Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto have already begun campaigning on behalf of their parties and candidates. They continue to demand changes in the process, including the suspension of mayors to keep Musharraf loyalists from unduly influencing the elections. Musharraf says he will consider it, but Bhutto has already hinted that she will not necessarily find that satisfactory this close to the election.

Other demands will get even less consideration. Musharraf has made it clear he will not restore judges to the bench removed in the first hours of his emergency order. International demands for their return will be ignored. The changes Musharraf made to the constitution show why. He removed a restriction on former army officials having to wait two years before running for office, among other changes, which shows that Musharraf expected to lose his case before the independent judicial review of his election.

The elections will continue, which will make Westerners happy. The hard-line Islamists have removed themselves from the process, which will make Westerners even more happy. We may get a fairly stable Pakistani parliament that might align itself with Musharraf against the Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists, if nothing else. If we can get that many omelettes, will we care how many eggs got broken? I'd say no.


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