Tick Tock VIII: The Emergency Plus Edition

The wag will say that the nation has never left the state of emergency, but that is just being silly.

We now have a legal State of Emergency in Pakistan. Actually, it is officially being called “Emergency Plus” – more than “Emergency” but less than “Martial Law”. Just right.

The move is hardly surprising considering the chaos engulfing Pakistan at the moment – from political (Supreme Court deliberations on the fate of the “election”) to military (the tribal/militant conflict has spread to Swat and Peshawar) to ideological (Baluchistan) to international (Rice has decided she wants democracy).

According to the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) declaring emergency, the steps were taken because of the recent terrorist attacks, the release of terror-suspects by the judiciary, the lack of oversight of the judiciary and the low morale of police and army in the nation. See the text here [pdf].

The emergency law, Article 232 of the Constitution: (summarized) The Proclamation of emergency is issued by the President if he deems that the country is threatened by internal or external violence or disturbance. The Federals can take over the Provinces, the High Court. It has to be affirmed by joint Assemblies within two months or it will automatically end. All the supreme courts in the country will have to re-take their oaths to the state and they will be barred from issuing any orders against the army or the state.

Musharraf has suspended the tv broadcasts – and prohibited any “print or electronic media discussion or analysis that hurts the national interests”.

The Supreme Court, which was expected to rule on Musharraf in a few days, is currently boarded up. Cities like Sarghoda, Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad have mobilized against suicide attacks.

Emergency Rule, maybe Martial Law, the replacement of Klashnikovs with Suicide Belts, the Vanished … Pakistan needed our help a year ago. It needed a genuine push for democratic processes back in March. We left unchecked, and unhindered, a megalomaniac
“enlightened moderator”. We keep insisting on our own interests ahead of the interests of the people of Pakistan. We remain steadfast in our belief that those people are not as developed nor as functional as we would like them to be. Pakistan needs a strong dictator. The fallacy … the gross oversight … has always been that he was never in control. He did not control Baluchistan where a genuine call for accountability and justice was quashed by horrific military violence – including missile assassinations. Baluchistan should have been afforded our attention in 2005 – but we were too busy in Iraq. It became, contiguous with Waziristan, the outpost and then the center of Taliban/extremist insurgents over the next two years. We insisted on supporting the one person who had no legitimate power to negotiate or fight for over 40% of territorial Pakistan. Can you imagine that?

Next up? Martial Law. More bombings. And the eventual drain of all that capital that had accumulated in the country in the past 8 years. Zimbabwe, here we come. Unless, US and China can come to their senses and do some actual diplomacy. The status is bleak. Let us say that Musharraf resigns and leaves. The Supreme Court declares an election date, the new government solves the Baluchistan issue, the US redeploys significant troops to Afghanistan (and keeps them there), the Pakistani military combats within cities and mountains of Pakistan. War. Chaos. Uncertainty. And this, my gentle readers, would be the best case scenario. A more likely option is a military state somewhere between Mugabe’s Zimbabwe circa 2005 and Gandhi’s India circa 1976. I must be proven wrong.

For now, we have a new Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court. But in an unprecedented move, only 4 judges have signed on to re-take the oath under PCO. This is big, big news. See this backgrounder for the significance.

Musharraf is to speak on “Meray Azeez Hum Watano” at 11:00 PST. Please see Aitzaz Ahsan – under arrest – being interviewed while in a toilet on the constitutional crisis by the Pakistani equivalent of Debbie Matenopoulos: “duniya mein a kar farishtoon nay declare illegal karna hai?”

I also recommend following Democracy and Freedom Blog for video clips.

update: Apparently SMS (TXT messsaging) is shut down across Pakistan on the order of the State.

See Tick Tock Series … VII, VI, V, IV, III, II, I for our journey so far.

19 Replies to “Tick Tock VIII: The Emergency Plus Edition”

  1. Pingback: Anil Kalhan
  2. This Shaukat (or shortcut aziz)Aziz is a funny guy
    He says that constitution gives parliment a right to postpone elections for one year. Since parliment is not dissolved under PCO, what does it mean?
    Either he does not know that constitution is in abeyance or there is a quixotic plan to restore that part of constitution at some point to enable parliment to delay elections. Think of slick plans

    Also in response to a question about president’s election and uniform , he respectfully yeilds to the honourable court as the matter is subjuidice. Now which honourable court is he talking about , 7-8 of whose senior judges are under arrest or dismissed or outed by not taking oath under PCO.

    My final point is people always curse pakistanis but htis guy has spent almost all his formative years in so called civilized world , How do you explain his knuckleheadedness, it beats me.

  3. The straightforward answer to the above question is: to set the score straight with the Judiciary. The declaration of Emergency, as has been made clear by the text of the proclamation, which also shows that General Musharraf is first and foremost the Chief of Army Staff, and his speech, is in reality a declaration of war against the Judiciary and the Constitution of Pakistan. This time around, the General has decided to play the game in a clear-cut way rather than engaging in any complex legal deliberations.

    The proclamation of Emergency-cum-Marshall Law leaves no doubt about its key target: “some members of the judiciary” who are working at the “cross purpose with the executive and legislature in the fight against terrorism and extremism”!!! Although the General has completely flushed the constitutional theory down the drain, he has also expressed his misconceived perception that he is only hope left of the people of Pakistan against rampant terrorism and extremism. What rubbish! He is the one who should be carrying the burden of blame for the mounting religious militancy; for he towed the Imperialist line in the ‘war in terror’, not the members of Judiciary. If the members of the Judiciary were offsetting the role of the notorious intelligence agencies and calling for transparency in the system in the favor of fundamental constitutional rights, what was so preposterous about that – except for the fact that the higher-ups in these agencies find any interference from the ‘non-intelligent’ civilians extremely distasteful?

  4. Sepoy,

    It is only in dictatorships that there is a grey area between normal and emergency. But it really is absurd to talk of emergency, emergency plus, emergency plus plus, martial law minus, and martial law proper.

    I’d just say that General Musharraf has just changed the rules he wants to rest of Pakistan to abide by. He was and remains an autocrat, doing very much what he likes.

  5. For now, we have a new Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court. But in an unprecedented move, only 4 judges have signed on to re-take the oath under PCO. This is big, big news.

    Actually, Manan, I sense that this news is even bigger than you suggest. Before the troops came in and put the Court on ice, a seven-justice bench managed to convene and issue an order invalidating the emergency declaration and PCO and enjoining anyone from acting under their supposed authority. (Talk about quick thinking under pressure.) So I think it’s more appropriate to say that there is no “new” Chief Justice — Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry remains Chief Justice of Pakistan, and all of these pretenders who purport to act under the authority of the PCO and emergency declaration, and who have sworn oaths to it, are violating the Court’s order on pain of contempt or worse. And may be acting mala fides, even. ;)

  6. DI: Well! Thanks for the heads up…now I know whom not to invite to my next art exhibit– if something like this happens, I’ll know who’s to blame.

  7. I fear saying this, but I’ll be honest: am I the only one who feels like the same old thing is happening in Pakistan with regards to Bhutto and Musharraf’s shenigans, suicide bombings, massive numbers of people killed in the NWFP, Balochistan, Swat? It’s like how inured we’ve become to the daily violence in Iraq. And am I the only one who whenever she sees pictures of either BB or Musharraf, an incredible urge overcomes me to smack their faces?

    One thing for sure is that Musharraf, in full exposure of the world, is showing shamelessly desperate he is to implement any measure at his disposal to stay in power. And that the US keeps aiding him reminds me of how a flailing tinpot dictatator is supported no matter what large amounts of people think to the contrary (you can think up of examples here…)

  8. Dark hours have just gotten darker. For a brief time justice seemed to prevail for some miserable souls of Pakistan and rekindled hope in many others but the dark lord could not have let this happen. To be honest I didn;t have high hopes from the lawyer’s movement or all this talk about free and fair elections. There is far too much wrong here that can be fixed by a few black coats and robes. I have been a Pakistani long enough to know that there is no silver lining, at least not in the foreseeable future. I don’t mean to sound too cynical but “to have seen what I have seen, see what I see!”.

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