Repression of opposition groups, including the socialist Labour Party, Pakistan continues. At the end of September ten members, including General Secretary Farooq Tariq, were arrested, at a protest against General Pervez Musharraf filing nomination papers for a second presidential term. They have been charged under Pakistan’s anti-terrorist laws!
Musharraf has been relected as Pakistan’s President after winning all but five of the votes cast in a joint Parliamentary and Provincial Assembly election. He would have won even if opposition groups had not boycotted the election.
However Pakistan’s Supreme Court has said he cannot be declared the winner until they make a ruling (expected later this month) on whether or not the election was legal. Musharraf was constitutionally obliged to step down this year.
The Supreme Court has a reputation for some independence, so Musharraf has raised the political temperature by saying he will step down as military chief… but only if he is declared re-elected as President. Giving up his army uniform will also clear the way for Benazir Bhutto to deliver on her side of a bargain made with Musharraf — to share power after January 2008 elections (the result is apparently a foregone conclusion) in exchange for having the charges of corruption against her dropped.
Whether this is just another blip for Pakistan’s corrupt and dangerous military-political establishment or a serious political crisis with long term global ramifications for the “war on terror” remains to be seen.
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