Pakistan clampdown on civil rights benefits islamists

  • post Type / Young Humanists International
  • Date / 22 November 2007

General Musharraf imposed Martial Law in Pakistan on 3 November 2007, promulgated the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) and suspended the Constitution, placing the country under one-man rule. Fearing that the Judiciary would invalidate his election on the ground that he was still head of the Army, he captured the government, suspended the constitution and removed the judiciary. General Musharraf issued orders which introduced tough changes barring media persons from criticizing the head of the state, military and the newly inducted puppet judiciary, and private television news channels were put off air. Thousands of lawyers were brutally beaten and arrested all over the country when they were protesting against the new PCO. Although presented as a State of Emergency to ensure stability in the country against terrorist threats, we prefer to call it Martial Law, as it unveils itself by the day as a clampdown on legitimate opposition and will more probably only strengthen the Taliban’s position.

Several inconsistencies and violations of the Constitution indicate that the main target was the Independent Judiciary. A State of Emergency is foreseen under the Constitution of Pakistan, but in that case the Supreme Court retains the authority to null and void it, whereas in this case the Constitution was simply set aside. Moreover, the order has been issued by General Musharraf in his quality of Chief of Army Staff, although the elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had removed General Musharraf from the post of Army Chief and although the constitutional Emergency can only be imposed by the President.

Musharraf put forward that he imposed the state of emergency and the termination of the Fundamental Rights and Constitution of Pakistan because of the threat of Terrorism, but the current situation will more probably only reinforce Taliban positions. On the second day of the state of Emergency, General Musharraf’s army released 28 Terrorists in return for the release of 240 members of the military in Wazeristan. On the 17th of november, the Pakistani Army vacated its posts in Swat and left the area to the confrol of religious fundamentalists, fanatics and terrorists. The Pakistani Army supplies arms to these terrorists by surrendering to them and then reaching an agreement to exchange captured terrorists for army personel.
I come from the area/province notorious for religious fundamentalism and terrorism where we see that terrorists are openly supported and nourished by the Pakistani Army. Pakistan’s Army is in action against the common people, gives a safe passage to the terrorists and favours their plans by harassing the common peaceful people of the area.

The real crackdown is aimed against the Judiciary, lawyers, political activists and human rights activists. While not a single terrorist has been arrested, judges, lawyers, human rights activists and political activists have faced harsh repression from the first day of the state of emergency onwards. In reaction against the curtailment of their independent power, fifty-five out of 97 judges of the Supreme Court and the four High Courts refused to take the oath of allegiance under the PCO. The judges who refused to accept the illegal actions of General Musharraf were put under house arrest, and an alternative Judiciary of loyal judges was appointed. Hundreds of human rights activists, including Ms. Asma Jahangir United Nations Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom were arrested after the proclamation of the state of emergency.

UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, the international community at large, the International Federation of Journalists, as well as the opposition parties in Pakistan e.g. Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Muslim League, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and Awami National Party, have condemned the imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan and expressed their anger over the arbitrary detention of political leaders, senior Judges, lawyers and human rights activists.

We hereby request all the peace lovers to write letters to their Governments asking them for a condemnation of the actions of General Musharraf and urging for the:

  1. Reinstatement of the Constitution
  2. Reinstatement of the sacked Judges
  3. Release of the political prisoners, human rights activists and lawyers
  4. Hand-over of government to civilians
  5. Curbing of fanaticism and terrorism by stopping army support to terrorists


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