Emergency Imposed in Pakistan: Harbinger of Change or More of the Same?

November 03, 2007

Aamir Qureshi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

After weeks of speculation and political unrest, Gen. Pervez Musharraf has finally imposed "Emergency" in Pakistan, suspended the 1973 constitution and disbanded the Supreme and High Courts just days ahead of an announcement by the SC on the issue of the legality of his recent election to the Presidency by the outgoing Assemblies. Earlier he had renewed his promise to give up the command of the Army by November 15, 2007. Declaration of Emergency is one step short of declaring Martial Law.

The SC Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry has been stripped of his office and Justice Doggar has been sworn in as the new Chief Justice under the Provisional Constitutional Order. In Sind, Justice Soomro has been sworn is as th new High Court Chief Justice by Governor Ishrat ul Ibad.

Citing the Justices meddling in government affairs Musharraf said, "A situation has thus arisen where the government of the country cannot be carried on in accordance with the Constitution, and as the Constitution provides no solution for the situation, there is no way out except through emergent and extraordinary measures." (The Hindu quoting PTI)

Benazir who had hopped over to nearby Dubai to see her children had shortened her trip and returned to Pakistan. At the time of this report her plane is on the tarmac in Karachi and her fate is unknown. The Chairperson for life's residence is surrounded by Rangers.

With the 1973 Constitution in abeyance (suspended is the word they used), the elections due in January 2008 can be postponed for up to one year by extending the life of the National and Provincial Assemblies. And the General can govern through Ordinances.

Unconfirmed reports suggest former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary and President-elect of the Supreme Court Bar Association Aitezaz Hasan are in protective custody as are some of the leaders of peripheral political parties. (This is an euphemism for house arrest.)

The General termed the actions necessary in a speech to the nation, stating that Pakistan was at a "critical and dangerous juncture." and that his actions were needed to curb a rise in extremism and judicial interference.


Update 1 Quote from retired Justice Wahiduddin

"The emergency has been set aside by the eight member bench and as of now there is legally no emergency. It is just not just the Supreme Court but a huge section of the army that is not interested in the emergency. If I know the armed forces well and I have my sources, the Pakistan army is very much for the Constitution and the rule of the law," he said. Justice Wahiduddin refused to take oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order in 2002 and chose to retire. While Iftikhar Chaudhary who was fired today did take that oath.

The United States has termed the events 'disappointing'.

update 2

Benazir Bhutto, Chairperson for life of PPP has reached her home in Karachi and has just ended a press conference in which she repeatedly used the term martial law throughout instead of emergency.

There are significant differences between the two.

Other than that, she reiterated her oft repeated demands of 'free and fair elections, independent judiciary, absence of terrorist acts during her last reign. She seems to reinforce an observation that she has some ways to go yet to fully absorb ground reality changes in Pakistan in the wake of 9/11.

update 3
Quotes from Pakistani and World leaders on the Emergency LINK

Quotes from citizens in Pakistan LINK (Please scroll down)

update 4
Beena Sarwar's article

Beena's Update # 1 from Karachi

update 5
Islamabad friend SR's opinion

update 6
Beena's Update # 2 from Karachi

love people who are in awe of words. words are the sole arbiter and the final survivor. desicritic editor, slave and slave-driver.
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November 3, 2007
03:09 PM

Since when do the moody and capricious Pakistanis care about the scrap of paper that is their constitution?

When Musharraf first seized power from Nawaz, the Pakistani masses all cheered him on, focusing first on condemning Nawaz, rather than caring that their constitution had been trampled upon.

Now they are reaping the longer term consequences, but are repenting too late. Now Musharraf will be another President-for-Life, and meanwhile the jihadis will likewise continue fighting until their last breath. The Pakistani masses will be mere impotent spectators to all this, helplessly caught in the crossfire -- a fate which they have chosen, by spitting on their constitution when they had the chance to stand up for it.

November 3, 2007
03:18 PM

Pakistan is truly a JOKE...hahaha.....time to dismantle the BANANA REPUBLIC

November 3, 2007
03:29 PM

Why does a dictator need to declare emergency? IT's AN UNCONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT!

November 3, 2007
04:01 PM

Can someone design a quick square banner opposing the emergency - we'd be glad to host it.

November 3, 2007
04:14 PM

rather morbidly and even perhaps inappropriately, after listening to Mushy's speech completely, all I could think was the joke about marrying the widow with the grown up daughter.

"I married a widow who had a grown-up daughter. My father visited our house very often, fell in love with my step-daughter and married her. So my father became my son-in-law, and my step-daughter my mother, because she was my father's wife. Sometime afterward my wife had a son; he was my father's brother-in-law, and my uncle for he was the brother of my stepmother. My father's wife--i.e., my stepmother--had also a son; he was, of course, my brother, and in the meantime my grandchild, for he was the son of my daughter. My wife was my grandmother, because she was my mother's mother. I was my wife's husband and grandchild at the same time. And as the husband of a person's grandmother is his grandfather, I am my own grandfather."

Mushy overthrowing his own government is like being his own grandfather.


Deepti Lamba
November 3, 2007
04:44 PM

bd, this is worse than B&B!

Democracy is the only solution.

As bd said in his previous article to tame the army rivers of blood need to flow else it will be treated as just another event in Pakistan's turbulent political history.

BJ Kumar
November 3, 2007
04:54 PM

Beads, that is hilarious!

Even under the present sad circumstances.

November 3, 2007
05:12 PM

update 2

Benazir Bhutto, Chairperson for life of PPP has reached her home in Karachi and has just ended a press conference in which she repeatedly used the term martial law throughout instead of emergency.

There are significant differences between the two.

Other than that, she reiterated her oft repeated demands of 'free and fair elections, independent judiciary, absence of terrorist acts during her last reign, pre 9?11 era.

November 3, 2007
05:41 PM


Excellent :-) appropriate to the scenario....:-)

A. S. Mathew
November 4, 2007
09:51 AM

The U.S. is doing everything to introduce market
economy and democracy everywhere in the world, but in certain countries, that can be a failed

To thrive democracy, the people must be educated
and also they must have political consciousness.
Now the trend around the world is either lack
of interest in religion on the one hand, and
religious radicalism on the other hand. Religious radicalism will spread fast in a society where any basic education is religious
oriented with a radical leaning. Political
consciousness will not be effective and neutral
in a radically religious society.

Even though a good majority of the educated
masses would like to see democray there, power
hungry politicians will play tricks to stay in
power. It is always dangerous for a country to
be a neighbour of an unstable country with a
totalitarian government. For India, a democratic
Pakistan is the best deal, but an unstable
Pakistan is always giving unexpected political
pains to India.

November 4, 2007
10:35 AM

Its choosing between the devil and the deep sea..

November 4, 2007
02:05 PM

When India gave away this huge chunk of land where the original Hindusim started they know that this land/country will be a disaster.
Muslims and is both oppsoite words.
They can be barbaric and want to be barbaric only.
It is not their problem (they are still Desis, right), it is problem with the 'book' they read.

A. S. Mathew
November 4, 2007
03:39 PM

Bygone events can't be reversed. Mr. Mohamed Ali
Jinnah wants to be the first Prime Minister of
the United India, but in all practicality, it was
not possible. Mahatma Gandhi was firm that the
Prime Ministership must be given to Pandit
Nehru. Then Jinnah brought forward the need of
dividing India into two countries, one Muslim
dominated Pakistan and Hindu dominated India.

Jinnah was very adamant and he was more power
hungry than other politicians of his time.

We all know the rest of the story, it created
an sea of blood at the border. The irony was,
none of the politicians shed their blood but the
innocent people by the thousands died. I am afraid, how many innocent people are going to be
cannon fodder by the greed of power by Gen.

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