Musharraf Declares a State of Emergency in Pakistan

Rick Moran
President Musharraf, in defiance of the wishes of the United States, has declared a State of Emergency in Pakistan according to CNN:

The declaration could potentially delay approaching parliamentary elections, according to CNN's Nic Robertson.

It also could provide Musharraf with a reason to continue serving as the nation's military chief, although he has pledged to step down from that post. The declaration follows the Thursday departure of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who went to Dubai to visit family. She returned to Pakistan last month after several years in exile.

A senior party leader with Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party had advised her not to leave the country because of the current political situation. She initially planned to leave Wednesday. The nation's political atmosphere has been tense for months, with Pakistani leaders in August considering the imposition of a state of emergency because of the growing security threats in the country's lawless tribal regions.

But Musharraf, influenced in part by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, held off on the move. Since that time Musharraf has faced a flurry of criticism from the opposition, who demanded he abandon his military position before becoming eligible to seek a third presidential term. Musharraf garnered a vast majority of votes in presidential elections last month; however, those results have not been certified by the nation's high court.
Rumors had been circulating for weeks about Musharraf taking this step due to a variety of factors, some personal but most having to do with internal security.

The Pakistani president has begun a serious attempt to get control of the Taliban and al-Qaeda infested tribal areas in the Northwest Frontier Provinces. This has caused the terrorists to descend from their hideouts and safe havens in the mountains into the cities where a rash of terrorist attacks have taken place since the return of ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

And there may be a personal element in the declaration of martial law. Musharraf's re-election to the presidency must be validated by the Pakistani High Court which must rule if Musharraf's election was legal since he still holds the position of Military Chief of Staff. The constitution prohibits the president from being an active duty member of the military.

Did Musharraf get wind that the supreme court was going to rule against him? With Bhutto out of the country, it could be that Musharraf will attempt to circumvent the court and continue his military rule, cancelling parliamentary elections tentatively scheduled for January and leaving Bhutto's status in the air. It is unlikely he will let her back in the country if there is a state of emergency and give her the opportunity to oppose him.

Pakistan is in a precarious position - trying to fight terrorists while also attempting a transition to civilian rule. That process could very well be delayed until Musharraf can get control of the restive provinces where many tribes have aligned themselves with the Taliban.
President Musharraf, in defiance of the wishes of the United States, has declared a State of Emergency in Pakistan according to CNN:

The declaration could potentially delay approaching parliamentary elections, according to CNN's Nic Robertson.

It also could provide Musharraf with a reason to continue serving as the nation's military chief, although he has pledged to step down from that post. The declaration follows the Thursday departure of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who went to Dubai to visit family. She returned to Pakistan last month after several years in exile.

A senior party leader with Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party had advised her not to leave the country because of the current political situation. She initially planned to leave Wednesday. The nation's political atmosphere has been tense for months, with Pakistani leaders in August considering the imposition of a state of emergency because of the growing security threats in the country's lawless tribal regions.

But Musharraf, influenced in part by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, held off on the move. Since that time Musharraf has faced a flurry of criticism from the opposition, who demanded he abandon his military position before becoming eligible to seek a third presidential term. Musharraf garnered a vast majority of votes in presidential elections last month; however, those results have not been certified by the nation's high court.
Rumors had been circulating for weeks about Musharraf taking this step due to a variety of factors, some personal but most having to do with internal security.

The Pakistani president has begun a serious attempt to get control of the Taliban and al-Qaeda infested tribal areas in the Northwest Frontier Provinces. This has caused the terrorists to descend from their hideouts and safe havens in the mountains into the cities where a rash of terrorist attacks have taken place since the return of ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

And there may be a personal element in the declaration of martial law. Musharraf's re-election to the presidency must be validated by the Pakistani High Court which must rule if Musharraf's election was legal since he still holds the position of Military Chief of Staff. The constitution prohibits the president from being an active duty member of the military.

Did Musharraf get wind that the supreme court was going to rule against him? With Bhutto out of the country, it could be that Musharraf will attempt to circumvent the court and continue his military rule, cancelling parliamentary elections tentatively scheduled for January and leaving Bhutto's status in the air. It is unlikely he will let her back in the country if there is a state of emergency and give her the opportunity to oppose him.

Pakistan is in a precarious position - trying to fight terrorists while also attempting a transition to civilian rule. That process could very well be delayed until Musharraf can get control of the restive provinces where many tribes have aligned themselves with the Taliban.