Sunday, May 13, 2007

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Erupts; Karachi Is in a State of Chaos

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You would think that the famed "liberal media" -- always looking for a way to make the Bush administration look bad -- would be all over the horrendous political violence going on in Pakistan right now, which is threatening to bring down the regime of Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf. The British Telegraph's headline in its last night's edition was "Pakistan on Brink of Disaster as Karachi Burns":

Chaos gripped the streets of Karachi yesterday as gun battles left at least 31 people dead and hundreds more injured, threatening a complete breakdown of law and order in Pakistan's largest and most volatile city.

With plumes of black smoke billowing over the city of 12 million people, there were extraordinary scenes as gunmen on motorbikes pumped bullets into crowds demonstrating against Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, while police stood by and watched.

In images more reminiscent of Baghdad, bloodstained corpses lay where they had fallen in the streets and bodies piled up in hospital morgues. As the sense of crisis deepened, a crisis meeting between Gen Musharraf and the prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, resolved to send in paramilitary troops to restore order, and to place the army on standby. The men agreed that a state of emergency would be imposed if the first two options failed.

It was the bloodiest escalation of the two-month long saga which began when the president attempted to sack the country's chief justice in March. The ensuing challenge by lawyers and opposition parties to Gen Musharraf's eight-year rule has left the president - a key Western ally in the "war on terror" - desperately clinging to power.

Cernig, who has put up several posts on the violence in Pakistan as well as the lead-up to it, remarked Friday on the U.S. media's seemingly total lack of interest [today's WaPo finally takes notice]:

It amazes me that the ongoing political turmoil in Pakistan isn't getting more - read any - attention in the US. Events which began with President Musharaff's attempt to rid himself of a turbulent Chief Justice are now boiling towards a possibly violent climax.
Let's be clear about what is at stake here. Pakistan is a nuclear power of no mean ability and such turmoil should be enough to have everyone's radar twitching.

Not to mention, Alex at The Blue State points out, "the prominent roles that country, and Pervez Musharraf, have assumed in America's ill-named War on Terror. ..."

Then again, perhaps Pres. Bush does not want to draw attention to its choice of allies:

One of the greatest problems with the US administration is that it seemingly loves to put all its eggs in the basket provided by tin pot dictators (military and civil), while in the same breath keeps a running commentary about the virtues of democracy.

Will this Orwellian double-speak at all help in the “War-against-Terror’?

A rhetorical question, of course. Which brings us to the final irony: Musharraf may soon have only two "friends" left -- the United States and the Islamists:

... Musharaff's support is collapsing. Even though government workers were given a half day holiday to attend a pro-Musharaff rally in the Pakistani capital today, only some 30,000 of what had hoped to be 300,000 supporters attended. Worse still, only 15,000 stuck around long enough to hear Musharaff speak and many of those told a Pakistani newspaper they had been promised payment for attending. The Daily Times also reported Human Rights Watch as saying that "the prevention of a peaceful reception for the chief justice by Musharraf’s supporters demonstrates the military government’s intolerance for civil society actions and has triggered widespread violence and death."
... My belief is that Mushraff will increasingly have to rely on foreign backing by such as the Bush administration to bolsetr his regime - but even more heavily on the Islamists who now provide most of his at-home political support as well as infesting the military and intelligence service.

Many, many thanks to Cernig for covering this issue, and for his links to The Blue State and WhirledView -- two excellent blogs that are new to me.

And, as always, thanks to Memeorandum for being The Source.

Cross-posted at Shakesville.

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