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Pakistan. Trouble looming...? (Bhutto assassinated 27 Dec 2007)

Old 11-03-07, 10:58 PM
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Pakistan. Trouble looming...? (Bhutto assassinated 27 Dec 2007)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071104/...re_as/pakistan

Musharraf imposes emergency measures

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - President Gen. Pervez Musharraf suspended Pakistan's constitution and deployed troops in the capital Saturday, declaring that rising Islamic extremism had forced him to take emergency measures. He also replaced the chief justice and blacked out the independent media that refused to support him.

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Authorities began rounding up opposition politicians, cut phone lines in Islamabad and took all but state television off air, defying calls from Washington and other Western allies not to take authoritarian measures.

The U.S. said it was disappointed and called for Musharraf to restore democracy. However, the Pentagon said the emergency declaration does not affect U.S. military support for Pakistan and its efforts in the war on terrorism. Britain said it was deeply concerned.

Musharraf's leadership is threatened by an increasingly defiant Supreme Court, the reemergence of political rival and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and an Islamic movement that has spread to the capital. The Supreme Court was expected to rule soon on the validity of Musharraf's contentious re-election last month.

Analysts said the emergency measures may only postpone Musharraf's political demise.

In a televised address late Saturday night, Musharraf looked somber and composed, wearing a black tunic rather than his usual military fatigues. He said Pakistan was at a "dangerous" juncture.

"The extremism has even spread to Islamabad, and the extremists are taking the writ of the government in their own hands, and even worse they are imposing their obsolete ideas on moderates," he said.

Musharraf's order allows courts to function but suspends some fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution, including freedom of speech. It also allows authorities to detain people without informing them of the charges.

He replaced chief justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry — who had emerged as the main check on his power. Musharraf's popularity plunged after he tried and failed to fire Chaudhry this spring, sparking popular protests against military rule.

Musharraf was overwhelmingly re-elected last month by the current parliament, dominated by his ruling party, but the vote was challenged. The Supreme Court was due to rule on whether he could run for president while still serving as army chief before his current term expires Nov. 15.

Musharraf criticized the court for failing to validate his re-election and for punishing government officers, including police. He said this had left the government system "semi-paralyzed."

His emergency order accused some judges of "working at cross purposes with the executive" and "weakening the government's resolve" to fight terrorism.

Musharraf claimed that the court had ordered 61 terrorists freed — an apparent reference a case that has been led by the now-deposed chief justice to press authorities over suspects held by intelligence agencies without charge.

Seven of the 17 Supreme Court judges immediately rejected the emergency, which suspended the current constitution. Paramilitary troops blocked entry to the Supreme Court building and erected road blocks and barred access to the official residences of lawmakers and judges. They later took the deposed chief justice and other judges away in a convoy, witnesses said.

Musharraf said he hoped democracy would be restored following parliamentary elections.

"But, in my eyes, I say with sorrow that some elements are creating hurdles in the way of democracy," said Musharraf. "I think this chaos is being created for personal interests and to harm Pakistan."

Rick Barton, a Pakistan expert at the Washington-based Center for International and Strategic Studies, said Musharraf's move would likely only postpone his political downfall.

"He's obviously not very popular, and it's not going to increase his popularity," Barton said. "Unless he's develops a new line or is able to be more effective with his old line, he seems to be just buying time, an inevitable delay to his demise."

The order drew swift complaints from the United States and Britain — Musharraf's main Western allies. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged restraint on all sides and a return to democracy.

The United States "does not support extraconstitutional measures," Rice said from Turkey, where she was participating in a conference with Iraq's neighbors.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, however, said the emergency declaration "does not impact our military support of Pakistan" or its efforts in the war on terror.

Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup and has been a close ally of the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has struggled to contain Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants who have gained control of large tracts of the volatile northwest near Afghanistan. Hundreds have died in fighting in recent weeks.

The violence has reached major cities despite substantial financial backing from the United States for the war on terrorism.

Bhutto, a longtime rival of Musharraf who recently returned from eight years of exile, is seen by many supporters as key to a possible return to democracy. On Saturday, she flew back to the southern city of Karachi from Dubai where she was visiting family. She had traveled abroad in the wake of an Oct. 18 suicide attack that narrowly missed her but killed 145 others.

She declared the emergency was the "blackest day" in Pakistan's history.

After her arrival at Karachi's Airport, Bhutto said she did not believe there would be fair elections as long as emergency rule remained in place.

"I agree with him that we are facing a political crisis, but I believe the problem is dictatorship, I don't believe the solution is dictatorship," she told Sky News television by telephone.

1n Karachi, about 100 police and paramilitary troops were deployed outside Bhutto's house, apparently as a protective cordon, witnesses said. A bomb disposal squad also searched the house before she arrived.

Nawaz Sharif, another former prime minister who was deported in September as he tried to return from exile, urged Pakistanis to rise against Musharraf.

The president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Aitzaz Ahsan was arrested, private Geo TV reported. Ahsan was a lawyer for Chaudhry in the case that led to his reinstatement in July.

An opposition party leader, Imran Khan, was put under house arrest and police were rounding up opposition activists and lawyers across Punjab province.

By early Sunday, cell phone service appeared to have been restored, but landlines were still dead. Transmissions by TV networks remained off the air in major cities other than state-controlled Pakistan TV.

Musharraf said some independent TV channels had contributed to the uncertainty in the country.

He also issued two ordinances toughening media laws, including a ban on live television broadcasts of "incidents of violence and conflict." Also, TV operators who "ridicule" the president, armed forces, or executive, legislative or judicial organs of the state can be punished with three years in jail.

It was not clear whether U.S. officials had advance knowledge of Saturday's action.

Rice said that to her knowledge, U.S. officials had yet to hear directly from Musharraf after his declaration. She said she last spoke with Musharraf a couple days ago but that other U.S. officials had made the American position clear to him more recently.

Crucial parliamentary elections meant to restore civilian rule are due by January and Musharraf did not say when they would be held.

Musharraf said there would be no change in the government and its top offices, and parliament — set to dissolve by Nov. 15 — would complete its term.

Analysts said Musharraf was on shaky legal ground in his re-election by lawmakers last month — a vote that was boycotted by most of the opposition — but they still expected the court to rule in his favor to prevent further destabilizing Pakistan.

However in recent days, some judges had made comments that they would not be swayed by threats from senior officials that an emergency might be declared if the court ruled against the general.

The seven Supreme Court judges who rejected the declaration of emergency ordered top officials, including the prime minister, and military officers not to comply with it. The two-page ruling said there were no grounds for an emergency "particularly for the reasons being published in the newspapers that a high profile case is pending and is not likely to be decided in favor of the government."
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Old 11-03-07, 11:12 PM
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Musharraf isn't very useful these days. He never seemed like a popular guy but I wonder how popular Bhutto really is. I don't see things settling down if she returns to power.
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Old 11-03-07, 11:34 PM
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So what does the OP think of this?

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We like to have some point to start a discussion.
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Old 11-04-07, 01:03 AM
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From the title, he seems to ask if trouble is looming.
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Old 11-04-07, 07:38 AM
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Trouble has been looming in Pakistan for decades.
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Old 11-04-07, 09:50 AM
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Democracy has little chance in Pakistan any time in the near future. It's pretty frustrating actually when you think of the Middle East. Some of our best buddies are hardly democratic, and the ones that are often produce results we can't stand.
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Old 11-04-07, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
Trouble has been looming in Pakistan for decades.
Trouble has been looming in that area of the country for centuries.

But anyway, what has Mushy really done for us lately? Or ever? He's been half-assed in all his lip service. I say let Pakistan do whatever it wants. This isn't really a bad situation. It's a political ideology conflict, and the US is sticking its nose, once again, into another country's drama.
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Old 11-04-07, 10:43 AM
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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21609019/

Oh Noooz. 500 "Activists" arrested. We must invade! Condoleeza, grab your sabre and let's get movin', baby.
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Old 11-04-07, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
Democracy has little chance in Pakistan any time in the near future. It's pretty frustrating actually when you think of the Middle East. Some of our best buddies are hardly democratic, and the ones that are often produce results we can't stand.



'Free' national elections are the only component of democracy?
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Old 11-04-07, 08:53 PM
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Pakistan is about as much a democracy as Iraq is.
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Old 11-05-07, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Pharoh
'Free' national elections are the only component of democracy?
There are many criteria bandied about, but having free elections is certainly near the top of everyone's list.
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Old 11-05-07, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by wendersfan
There are many criteria bandied about, but having free elections is certainly near the top of everyone's list.


True, but they should take place after the others are in place. At least in a more perfect world.


My point wasn't that national elections are not integral or ultimately necessary.
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Old 11-05-07, 08:15 AM
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Is Bhutto aligned with the extermists?
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Old 11-05-07, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Venusian
Is Bhutto aligned with the extermists?
Somehow I after reading this post, I found this picture. Not sure what it means.

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Old 11-05-07, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by wendersfan
There are many criteria bandied about, but having free elections is certainly near the top of everyone's list.
Didn't Haiti have free elections?

Didn't Venezuela have free elections?

Didn't Iraq have free elections?

Didn't Serbia have free elections?

Didn't Germany in the early '30s have free elections?
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Old 11-07-07, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Stratfor Intelligence Email
Pakistan and its Army
By George Friedman

Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency over the weekend, precipitating a wave of arrests, the suspension of certain media operations and the intermittent disruption of communications in and out of Pakistan. As expected, protests erupted throughout Pakistan by Nov. 5, with clashes between protesting lawyers and police reported in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and several other cities. Thus far, however, the army appears to be responding to Musharraf's commands.

The primary issue, as Musharraf framed it, was the Pakistani Supreme Court's decision to release about 60 people the state had charged with terrorism. Musharraf's argument was that the court's action makes the fight against Islamist extremism impossible and that the judiciary overstepped its bounds by urging that the civil rights of the accused be protected.

Musharraf's critics, including the opposition's top leader, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, argued that Musharraf was using the Supreme Court issue to protect his own position in the government, avoid leaving the army as promised and put off elections. In short, he is being accused of staging a personal coup under the guise of a state of emergency.

Whether Musharraf himself survives is not a historically significant issue. What is significant is whether Pakistan will fall into internal chaos or civil war, or fragment into smaller states. We must consider what that would mean, but first we must examine Pakistan's underlying dilemma -- a set of contradictions rooted in Pakistani history.

When the British conquered the Indian subcontinent, they essentially occupied the lowlands and pushed their frontier into the mountains surrounding the subcontinent -- the point from which a relatively small British force, augmented by local recruits, could hold against any external threat. The eastern line ran through the hills that separated Bengal from Burma. The northern line ran through the Himalayas that separate China from the subcontinent. The western line ran along the mountains that separated British India from Afghanistan and Iran.

This lineation -- which represented not a political settlement but rather a defensive position selected for military reasons -- remained vague, driven by shifting tactical decisions designed to secure a physical entity, the subcontinent. The Britons were fairly indifferent to the political realities inside the line. The British Raj, then, was a wild jumble of states, languages, religions and ethnic groups, which the Britons were quite content to play against one another as part of their grand strategy in India. As long as the British could impose an artificial, internal order, the general concept of India worked. But as the British Empire collapsed after World War II, the region had to find its own balance.

Mahatma Gandhi envisioned post-British India as being a multinational, multireligious country within the borders that then existed -- meaning that India's Muslims would live inside a predominantly Hindu country. When they objected, the result was both a partition of the country and a transfer of populations. The Muslim part of India, including the eastern Muslim region, became modern Pakistan. The eastern region gained independence as Bangladesh following a 1971 war between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan, however, was not a historic name for the region. Rather, reflective of the deeply divided Muslims themselves, the name is an acronym that derives, in part, from the five ethnic groups that made up western, Muslim India: Punjabis, Afghans, Kashmiris, Sindhis and Balochis.

The Punjabis are the major ethnic group, making up just under half of the population, though none of these groups is entirely in Pakistan. Balochis also are in Iran, Pashtuns also in Afghanistan and Punjabis also in India. In fact, as a result of the war in Afghanistan more than a quarter century ago, massive numbers of Pashtuns have crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan -- though many consider themselves to be moving within Pashtun territory rather than crossing a foreign border.

Geographically, it is important to think of Pakistan in two parts. There is the Indus River Valley, where the bulk of the population lives, and then there are the mountainous regions, whose ethnic groups are deeply divided, difficult for the central government to control and generally conservative, preferring tradition to modernization. The relative isolation and the difficult existence in mountainous regions seem to create this kind of culture around the world.

Pakistan, therefore, is a compendium of divisions. The British withdrawal created a state called Pakistan, but no nation by that name. What bound its residents together was the Muslim faith -- albeit one that had many forms. As in India -- indeed, as in the Muslim world at the time of Pakistan's founding -- there existed a strong secularist movement that focused on economic development and cultural modernization more than on traditional Islamic values. This secularist tendency had two roots: one in the British education of many of the Pakistani elite and the second in Turkish founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who pioneered secularism in the Islamic world.

Pakistan, therefore, began as a state in crisis. What remained of British rule was a parliamentary democracy that might have worked in a relatively unified nation -- not one that was split along ethnic lines and also along the great divide of the 20th century: secular versus religious. Hence, the parliamentary system broke down early on -- about four years after Pakistan's creation in 1947. British-trained civilian bureaucrats ran the country with the help of the army until 1958, when the army booted out the bureaucrats and took over.

Therefore, if Pakistan was a state trying to create a nation, then the primary instrument of the state was the army. This is not uniquely Pakistani by any means, nor is it unprincipled. The point that Ataturk made -- one that was championed in the Arab world by Egypt's Gamal Abdul Nasser and in Iran by Reza Pahlavi -- was that the creation of a modern state in a traditional and divided nation required a modern army as the facilitator. An army, in the modern sense, is by definition technocratic and disciplined. The army, rather than simply an instrument of the state, therefore, becomes the guarantor of the state. In this line of thinking, a military coup can preserve a constitution against anti-constitutional traditionalists. If the idea of a military coup as a guarantor of constitutional integrity seems difficult to fathom, then consider the complexities involved in creating a modern constitutional regime in a traditional society.

Although the British tradition of parliamentary government fell apart in Pakistan, one institution the Britons left behind grew stronger: the Pakistani army. The army -- along with India's army -- was forged by the British and modeled on their army. It was perhaps the most modern institution in both countries, and the best organized and effective instrument of the state. As long as the army remained united and loyal to the concept of Pakistan, the centrifugal forces could not tear the country apart.

Musharraf's behavior must be viewed in this context. Pakistan is a country that not only is deeply divided, but also has the real capacity to tear itself apart. It is losing control of the mountainous regions to the indigenous tribes. The army is the only institution that transcends all of these ethnic differences and has the potential to restore order in the mountain regions and maintain state control elsewhere.

Musharraf's coup in 1999, which followed a series of military intrusions, as well as attempts at secular democratic rule, was designed to preserve Pakistan as a united country. That is why Musharraf insisted on continuing to wear the uniform of an army general. To remove the uniform and rule simply as a civilian might make sense to an outsider, but inside of Pakistan that uniform represents the unity of the state and the army -- and in Musharraf's view, that unity is what holds the country together.


Of course the problem is that the army, in the long run, reflects the country. The army has significant pockets of radical Islamist beliefs, while Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the military's intelligence branch, in particular is filled with Taliban sympathizers. (After all, the ISI was assigned to support the mujahideen fighting the Soviets in the 1980s, and the ISI and other parts of the army absorbed the ideology). Musharraf has had to walk a tightrope between U.S. demands that he crack down on his own army and his desire to preserve his regime -- and has never been able to satisfy either side fully.

It is not clear whether he has fallen off the tightrope. Whatever he does, as long as the army remains united and he controls the corps commanders, he will remain in power. Even if the corps commanders -- the real electors of Pakistan -- get tired of him and replace him with another military leader, Pakistan would remain in pretty much the same position it is in now.

In simple terms, the real question is this: Will the army split? Put more broadly, will some generals simply stop taking orders from Pakistan's General Headquarters and side with the Islamists? Will others side with Bhutto? Will ethnic disagreements run so deep that the Indus River Valley becomes the arena for a civil war? That is what instability in Pakistan would look like. It is not a question of civilian institutions, elections or any of the things we associate with civil society. The key question on Pakistan is whether the army stays united.

In our view, the senior commanders will remain united because they have far more to lose if they fracture. Their positions depend on a united army and a unified chain of command -- the one British legacy that continues to function in Pakistan.

There are two signs to look for: severe internal dissent among the senior generals or a series of mutinies by subordinate units. Either of these would raise serious questions as to the future of Pakistan. Whether Musharraf survives or falls and whether he is replaced by a civilian leader are actually secondary questions. In Pakistan, the fundamental issue is the unity of the army.

At some point, there will be a showdown among the various groups. That moment might be now, though we doubt it. As long as the generals are united and the troops remain under control, the existence of the regime is guaranteed -- and in some sense the army will remain the regime. Under these conditions, with or without Musharraf, with or without democracy, Pakistan will survive.
Interesting take. I'm sure Pharoh would agree with this assessment. Given the choice of democracy and civil war or stability and army rule in this instance, I'd take army rule. The question is, why can't the army answer to a civilian like it does in this country?
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Old 11-07-07, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
Didn't Haiti have free elections?

Didn't Venezuela have free elections?

Didn't Iraq have free elections?

Didn't Serbia have free elections?

Didn't Germany in the early '30s have free elections?
Please go back and think about what I posted, and then consider whether or not your response was necessary.
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Old 11-07-07, 07:28 AM
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I consider the post essential to make it abundantly clear that 'free' elections don't necessarily make democracy.
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Old 11-07-07, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
I consider the post essential to make it abundantly clear that 'free' elections don't necessarily make democracy.
I guess then that I need to make it abundantly clear that, of the several things necessary for democracy, free elections are at or close to the top of the list. Nowhere did I say they were the only component.
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Old 11-09-07, 09:48 AM
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<a href = "http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071109/ts_nm/pakistan_dc_50"><b>Police block Bhutto, Pakistan capital sealed off</a></b>

By Kamran Haider

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani police blocked opposition leader Benazir Bhutto from leaving her home in Islamabad on Friday and sealed off the capital and nearby city of Rawalpindi to stop a rally against President Pervez Musharraf.

Bhutto, the politician most capable of galvanizing mass protests against Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule, tried to breach a cordon and appealed to police to let her through.

"The government has been paralyzed," Bhutto shouted to supporters across a barbed-wire barricade.

Two buses and an armored personnel carrier blocked the road outside her house.

"If he restores the constitution, takes off his uniform, gives up the office of the chief of army staff and announces an election by January 15, then it's okay," she said, vowing defiance if he failed to comply. She then returned to her residence.

The White House said Bhutto and other political figures should be freed.

Musharraf, who took power in a bloodless 1999 coup, said on Thursday elections would be held by February 15, about a month later than they were due.

He also said he would quit as army chief and be sworn in as a civilian president once new judges appointed to the Supreme Court struck down challenges against his re-election.

It remains to be seen whether Musharraf, who had viewed Bhutto as a potential ally, can control events set in train by his shock decision last Saturday to impose emergency rule and suspend the constitution.

RELEASE JUDGES

He has sacked most of the country's judges, putting senior officials -- including former chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry -- under house arrest, and ordered police to round up the majority of the opposition leadership. And anyone else deemed troublesome.

The White House said on Friday it remained concerned about the continued state of emergency "and curtailment of basic freedoms" in Pakistan.

"Former prime minister (Benazir) Bhutto and other political party members must be permitted freedom of movement and all protesters released," Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said 2,500 people had been detained since the emergency was declared at the weekend, though Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples' Party say 5,000 of their activists have been picked up in the past couple of days.

Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters in Rawalpindi, where Bhutto planned to lead a rally. Barbed-wire barricades were erected on all roads leading to the venue.

Railways Minister and close Musharraf ally, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, told Reuters Bhutto's detention was temporary -- officials said three days -- and was meant to protect her from suicide bomb attacks, as well as stop her going to Rawalpindi.

A suicide bomb attack killed 139 people at a procession in Karachi to welcome Bhutto's return to Pakistan after eight years of self-imposed exile on October 18.

The government blamed Islamist militants angry at her backing of Musharraf's alliance with the United States.

Bhutto has also planned a motorcade from Lahore on November 13 as part of a mass agitation.

U.S. WORRIED

Under fire from Western allies and the international community, and with an angry Bhutto on his doorstep, Musharraf has become increasingly isolated, fuelling concern about instability in nuclear-armed Pakistan.

"The concern I have is that the longer the internal problems continue, the more distracted the Pakistani army and security services will be in terms of the internal situation rather than focusing on the terrorist threat in the frontier area," U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Friday.

A suspected suicide blast at the home of the Minister of Political Affairs, Amir Muqam, in the northwestern city of Peshawar killed three people on Friday, state-run Pakistan Television said. The minister was unhurt.

Police had earlier wielded batons and fired teargas to disperse hundreds of opposition protesters in Peshawar and a nearby town on Friday, police and witnesses said.
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Old 11-09-07, 10:27 AM
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I wonder how much the police support what they are doing and how many are just scared
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Old 11-09-07, 10:35 AM
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Musharraf's behavior must be viewed in this context. Pakistan is a country that not only is deeply divided, but also has the real capacity to tear itself apart. It is losing control of the mountainous regions to the indigenous tribes. The army is the only institution that transcends all of these ethnic differences and has the potential to restore order in the mountain regions and maintain state control elsewhere.
Losing control? Never had it. Not for 60 years since Pakistan's independence. Plus, the last sentence is rather silly when you consider that the military government/army have actually made matters in that region even worse. For Stratfor Intelligence, that's not particularly intelligent.

See here:

http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=4748&l=1

Last edited by eXcentris; 11-09-07 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 11-09-07, 11:29 AM
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Old 11-09-07, 12:37 PM
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Have Indian leaders commented? I wonder if they prefer Bhutto over Musharraf.
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Old 11-09-07, 12:43 PM
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I don't know. He is right about it being impossible to fight terrorism in Pakistani Courts, as most lawyers are radicalized.

So, in that regard, I laugh to see them in their little suits, carted off to jail.

Al-Qaeda's branches does include a legislative wing.
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