Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Musharraf Under Pressure as Police Probe Bombings

On Monday, 10 people were killed and more than 40 were injured in a bomb blast in a crowded market in Karachi on Monday. News sources, including the LA Times and the Pakistan's Daily Times, noted that an explosive was reportedly rigged to a motorcycle and left near a fruit cart. The Daily Times cited Sindh Police Inspector General Azhar Ali Farooqui, who said, "The bomb had exploded around 7.45pm at a market near the Gul Ahmed Textile Mill, within the jurisdiction of the Quaidabad Police Station." Although no one has claimed responsibility for the recent wave of attacks, authorities say they were designed to exacerbate instability ahead of the February elections. Government officials, not surprisingly, blamed Al Qaeda-linked militants from tribal regions along the Afghan border for the bombing. The LA Times added, "The bomb was detonated in an area dominated by Pashtun tribesmen who have moved to the city."

Following the bombing, President Pervez Musharraf faced new calls for his resignation, reported the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency on Tuesday. Monday's blast occurred as Musharraf visited Karachi, although the Associated Press noted that he did not appear to be the target of the blast. Nevertheless, opposition leaders called for the ex-general to resign in the wake of the recent spate of violence, that the AFP reported has killed more than 800 people in the last year. Yesterday, Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Nawaz Sharif told an election rally of about 3,000 people in Islamabad, "Musharraf has destroyed Pakistan. He is blindly following America's orders. The whole of Pakistan is drowned in blood." [For an interesting piece on the militants in the country, see today's NY Times article.]

There has been increasing pressure on the Pakistani President to resign. Pakistan's prominent newspaper, The News, featured recent statements made by Pervez Hoodbhoy, described as "the brilliant Physics professor at Quaid-e-Azam University," who told an Italian journalist, "I want Musharraf to go -- resign or somehow be removed, preferably without bloodshed. I want the independent judiciary restored, a new neutral caretaker government installed for overseeing free and fair elections, and then elections that would decide upon the new parliament and prime minister. This will not immediately solve Pakistan's fundamental problems -- army dominance, maldistribution of wealth, religious fanaticism -- but it would get Pakistan on the track to democracy instead of the self-destruction it is racing towards."

The cycle of violence and instability in Pakistan has been self-enforcing, and many have pointed a finger at the current President, who we have seen become increasingly more defensive as he has come under attack, [see Monday's post with the Newsweek interview as well as his recent interview with CBS News' Lara Logan on Jan. 6th]. I've noted this shift in his interviews with interest - from a man who once instilled hope in Pakistanis to an ex-general who has become increasingly unpopular and on the defensive - when did that change start? Do all Pakistani politicians and leaders have a shelf-life before they, too, are deemed insufficient for the process?


Fahad said...

I agree that he is getting defensive. The intrinsic truth of the matter is that the military has never belonged in the political sphere, anywhere.

Any political or economic progress that the army has fostered will actually lead to regression. Yes, Musharraf has done good things to the economy but it is tanking now (http://www.omantribune.com/index.php?page=news&id=19281&heading=Pakistan).

At the end of the day, unlike our politicians (morally and economically corrupt as they are)-- the army has no right to be in power!

Noor said...

It's my belief that people throughout the Muslim world are losing faith in poor national leadership that is being endorsed and supported by the current US administration as part of the ongoing Global War on Terror. Musharraf falls under the category of authoritarian leaders in the Muslim world who derive much of their support from Western sources. If you study Musharraf's behavior over the past year, it is clear that he has no intention of allowing his people to flourish under a so-called free and fair democratic system. I believe most people ust want to live in peace and with their personal interests protected. As Pakistan suffers from continued terror threats that are inevitably blamed on AQ, it seems clear that the people have lost faith in Musharraf's ability to protect the nation from internal and external enemies, and he is also failing to protect the nation from his own crass self-interest.

Reimas said...

Fahad is correct that Musharraf contributed to economic gains.

Historically, so have most military leaders who take charge in uniform--but the caveat is that the economic progress only shows in the short-run. The long-run, however, is a sadder tale; the short-runs gains do not hold up.

As messy as the democratic process can be in third-world countries, the basic foundations of democratic practice, ie the Judiciary, and Legislation still have a role in shaping the debate.

When Musharraf tampered with the Judiciary, it was major signal that he had overstepped his already controversial role, and that anything that follows--good or bad--would lack domestic and international credibility.

danish k said...

Though it seems, at face value that these news articles posted here on this blog present a very troubled Pakistan. My! Pakistan, having no hopes in any of its glory, with a political structure that is mocked at, terrorism that so thrived upon in media reports 'cashing the buck in', a tussle between its judicial system, army and the legislative. The list can go on and on, some even backable and ably supported by actual realities -such as the bombings or the recent assasination- which is highly regrettable.

However, in light of all of this; the constant bickering and complaining at the current situation, has anyone stopped and asked 'Why is this all happening? Where is it all coming from? How is it being managed? And more importantly, who is behind it?'

To me, as I dare sway from the face value of this all, it all seems as a very carefully thought out plan. A plan that has its objectives and purpose of destabalizing Pakistan to such an extent that would justify, in the 'World's' eyes, that Pakistan is not able to safegaurd its own strategic assets.

Already, as if trying to make an innocent judgement, U.S. Presidential hopefuls are talking about 'supervising jointly' those assets. Let alone, media reports in the American press, almost giving their Hollywood savvy followers the scenario of the assets falling into the hands of some dumb terrorist that may 'use' it -if it were as easy as getting a hamburger from the next fast food joint or how Hollywood's Cold War movies suggest 'press the button and phoof'.

These allegations are not rhetoric, they are serious misjudgements aimed to mislead the misfortunate.

Jay said...

It's understandable that he's on the defensive. While it's probable that a number (if not the majority) of the issues are the direct results of his policies and the domestic government/judicial/military/intelligence infighting, the resulting situation has forced him to walk a delicate tight rope balancing democracy and security. I, unfortunately, envision a difficult transition to stability, but sites like this and much of what is read in the press are indications that moderates in Pakistan are the majority, not the minority.