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Monday, November 05, 2007

What's at stake in Pakistan?

Pakistani Children

There are many things in play with the "State of Emergency" declared by President Musharraf in Pakistan on the weekend. What does this mean for regional security? For Pakistan's nuclear program? For the flow of people and material across the border into Afghanistan? For Bush's little attack on Iran (many believe it's only a question of when)?

I don't have the answers (comment with yours if you like), but from a human rights perspective, it's a horrible mess. By Monday, hundreds of lawyers, human rights activists and political workers have been arrested or arbitrarily detained across Pakistan. The Office of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan was raided by a large police contingent on Sunday and around 70 human rights activists were arrested. They have been charged with unlawful assembly under public order provisions and initially detained in Kot Lakhpat jail, Lahore.

They include senior citizens many of whom suffer from ill health.
Amongst those under house arrest is the Chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, UN Special Rapporteur for freedom of religion Asma Jahangir. Her house has been declared a sub-jail where she will be detained for 90 days under preventive detention laws.

Independent TV and Radio news channels have been prevented from broadcasting within the country since Saturday. New laws restricting freedom of print and electronic media were issued, breach of which attracts three to four years imprisonment and heavy fines.

Amnesty International's Secretary General, Irene Khan, had some strong words. Here are some samples:

General Musharraf's actions constitute a direct assault on Pakistan’s judiciary, its vibrant human rights community, independent media and peaceful political dissent, said Ms Khan.

Measures that have been portrayed as necessary to protect Pakistan are in fact a wholesale abrogation of fundamental human rights protections and dismantle the very institutions and checks and balances that underpin the country’s stability.
He needs to step down and and stand aside for the democratic processes that have taken hold and started to grow over the past few years.

Just linked to it Gary..
somehow I feel kinda 'star wars-y'.. there is something out of sync in the Force.. I wonder what 'it', must be?!
(there are a few candidates)
The situation in Pakistan scares me more than what is happening in Iran, at the moment.
I feel like Ingrid. Is this the Twilight Zone or what?
I have no idea what the cure for anything is ..
I'm whistling past the graveyard..
walking fast
Ingrid and Mary - nightmarish at times, but you keep clear heads.

Seraphine - one only has to look at a map to see why the situation in Pakistan and that in Iran are linked. It is scary.

Cynnie, enjoy the walk and share your whistling anytime.
Everything I read about this situation either frightens or confuses me. Didn't he finally say he would step down from the presidency? (Today's Toronto Star.) But will he?
All these countries are very weak idealogically and militarily. Iraq proves as have Napoleon, the British, the Russians, that dabbling militarily in this part of the world is not smart. Who wants to street fight third world people with a religious chip on their shoulder.

The nukes part is dangerous, but so be it.

The dark ages remain in this part of the world although there are plenty of people whom know a liberal democracy is the way to go.

Maybe it is time for these folks to come forward, and join civilization.
Just a few weeks ago we saw Buddhist monks in Burma beaten, taken from their monasteries and many even murdered for taking a stand against an illegal regime. Yesterday it was lawyers in Pakistan suffering blows and imprisonment for the same essential reason.

As Amnesty and a number of others understand, there will never be peace in countries whose resources or strategic position are worth more to the world's power brokers than people.

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