State of Emergency in Pakistan: Constitution Suspended

sc-roadblock.jpgThe Globe and Mail is reporting that Pakistan’s President Chief of Army Staff Musharraf has declared a state of emergency and suspended the constitution of Pakistan. This gives him near-dictatorial powers, and is highly concerning for the future freedom of the state.

UPDATE: Musharraff as The Chief of Army Staff declared the state of emergency, not as President Musharrafthis could be a Coup in the shaping; or it could be a ploy to get the court to finish the deliberations on the challenges prior to the November 15th date when Musharraf’s holding of two offices definitely becomes unconstitutional. (note: although Musharraf was elected President and has appointed a successor as COAS, he’s still technically the Chief, so the state of emergency IS from Musharraf, but under the office of Army Chief of Staff)

UPDATE: Comprehensive update from BBC

UPDATE: Quotes from the emergency declaration:

“whereas some members of the judiciary are working at cross purposes and the police force has been completely demoralised and is fast losing its efficacy to fight terrorism and Intelligence Agencies have been thwarted in their activities and prevented from pursuing terrorists”

“whereas some hard core militants, extremists, terrorists and suicide bombers, who were arrested and being investigated were ordered (by judges) to be released.”

“Whereas some judges by overstepping the limits of judicial authority have taken over the executive and legislative functions”

“Whereas the Government is committed to the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law and holds the superior judiciary in high esteem, it is nonetheless of paramount importance that the Honourable Judges confine the scope of their activity to the judicial function and not assume charge of administration;

“and judges have, thus, made themselves immune from inquiry into their conduct and put themselves beyond accountability”

“Whereas the humiliating treatment meted to government officials by some members of the judiciary on a routine basis during court proceedings has demoralized the civil bureaucracy and senior government functionaries, to avoid being harassed, prefer inaction”

UPDATE: All Things Pakistan (Pakistaniat.com) Coverage here.

UPDATE: Musharraf will speak in just under two hours at 11:00 PM  Pakistan time. Rumors now have it that Benazir Bhutto is trying to return, but her plane is stopped on the runway, that does not match the official news source quotes from her party.

UPDATE: Benazir Bhutto is sitting in a plane on the tarmac at Karachi Airport now — wondering if she will be deported, arrested, or allowed to return. Her home and headquarters are surrounded by troops. 

UPDATE: A landmine has killed six in Baluchistan

UPDATE: Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice speaks out against the state of emergency in Pakistan

UPDATE: from Earthtimes.org (note – not my favorite source due to reliability issues.) Justices in custody

The official said the step followed soon after the state-run Pakistan Television announced imposition of emergency by Chief of Army Staff General Musharraf.

‘Eight judges including Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry were taken into custody and taken to an unknown place from the Supreme Court building after they met taking a suo motu notice of the announcement and declared the emergency as illegal and unconstitutional,’ said the official on condition of anonymity.

He said that earlier at 5.30 p.m. all Supreme Court judges were served a two-line notice in their respective names saying their services were no more required by the government. He said that the ministry of law issued the order restraining the judges.

More from Metroblogging Islamabad — there is a note here that COAS declared emergency, and not President Musharraf  (note: although Musharraf was elected President and has appointed a successor as COAS, he’s still technically the Chief, so the state of emergency IS from Musharraf, but under the office of Army Chief of Staff):

Updates:

20:10 Lahore MB’s Post provides some instant updates … quoting here.
– 8 member bench of Supreme Court sets aside emergency

– Rangers deployed at Shahra-e-Dastoor in Islamabad

– Prime Minister, Cabinet, Chief Ministers and Governors will continue to work

– Senate and assemblies will remain in place

– Supreme Court Bar Association President Ch. Aitzaz Ahsan arrested

– Private channels expelled from Governor House Sindh

– Justice Javed Iqbal and Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar likely to be Chief Justice
19:10 Details of Emergency Rule, courtesy Lahore MB’s Post
– Transmission of private channels stopped across the country- Chief of Army Staff has proclaimed state of emergency in the country and issued a provincial constitutional order

– President Pervez Musharraf to address nation tonight

– 1973 Constitution has been suspended (NOT COMPLETELY though)

– Emergency also imposed on Judiciary and Media in Pakistan: Sources

– We do not require your services anymore: Chief Justice verbally informed.

– Army troops enter the Supreme Court building

– Chief Justice escorted out of the Supreme Court building

– Federal cabinet to meet at 7 pm tonight on emergency rule: Official Sources

– High level meeting underway at Governor House in Karachi to review law and order situation in Sindh
Lahore MB reported half an hour back about the EMERGENCY RULE IMPOSITION.

News Channels are OFF-air in all major cities (as news are suggesting).

Details in here and here.

BBC and Al-Jazeera English the only channels coming in Islamabad!

President Musharaf to Address nation soon … unconfirmed sources state Shujaat as next PM and dissolved assemblies.BBC Report on developing situation.

I promise updates through the day as I dig into this more, there will be no more pictures however since many coming here from Pakistan are on low-bandwidth connections.

This comes before a ruling from Chief Justice Iftikhar on his eligibilty for President — story from the Globe and Mail:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan’s constitution was suspended on Saturday as President Pervez Musharraf invoked emergency powers, state run Pakistan Television reported.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and eight other judges refused to endorse the provisional constitutional order issued by the president, and Justice Chaudhry has been told his “services are no longer required”, private news channels said.

Judge Chaudhry and his fellow judges, according to a Reuters journalist, were still inside the court building on Constitution Avenue, the broad thoroughfare where the presidency and the National Assembly are also located. The road has been sealed off by troops…

Witnesses said paramilitary troops were deployed at state-run Pakistan Television and radio stations ahead of the announcement, which follows weeks of speculation that U.S. ally Gen. Musharraf might impose emergency rule or martial law.

Pakistan Television said Gen. Musharraf, who is also chief of army staff, had issued a provisional constitutional order declaring an emergency.

Gen. Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup, is awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on whether he was eligible to run for re-election last month while still army chief.

Stung by criticism it was adding to a sense of instability, the court said on Friday it would reconvene on Monday and try to finish the case quickly, having earlier said it would take a break until Nov. 12 – just three days before Gen. Musharraf’s current term is due to expire.

What else has driven him here? It appears that the Army campaigns in Swat are not going well, with the terrorists in TNSM capturing several soldiers there, and troops deserting. I’ve warned that AQAM forces have refocused almost all of their efforts towards Pakistan since last June, so I don’t find it surprising that the Army is facing stiff opposition — this is AQ’s last firm base, and they are defending tooth and nail.

The other things working in the background:

Benazir Bhutto is out of country having decided to make the visit to Dubai that was previously postponed due to fears of this  very thing happening. There will be speculations of deals and accomodations being worked out since she did go ahead with the trip knowing that the ruling was coming. IC PUBS :

Former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto will not return to Pakistan from Dubai after President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency on Saturday, a spokesman for her Pakistan People’s Party told AFP.

“She can’t go back to Pakistan now due to the state of emergency,” Zubeir Bashir, the PPP’s spokesman for the Middle East, said. “If she goes back they would arrest her.”

No official reason was given for the state of emergency, but the declaration came as Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, awaited a Supreme Court decision that could have overturned his victory in an October 6 presidential election.

“We condemn Musharraf’s decision to declare a state of emergency. We don’t accept it,” said Zubair, adding that Bhutto might give a news conference in the Gulf Arab emirate of Dubai later on Saturday or on Sunday.

“Army rule is bad. It stops everything and makes the country’s progress zero,” Zubair added.

Bhutto made a surprise return to Dubai on Thursday after earlier cancelling her planned departure from Pakistan because of rumours of an impending state of emergency.

Hundreds of Pakistan International Airlines engineers went on strike Friday, effectively grounding the national airline.

The Mullah Fazlullah backed TNSM forces (AQ allied) paraded 48 captive soldiers Friday,. (more on the dire situation in Swat at The Long War)

TV and Cable Stations are off the Air, but the Internet is still active.

Note: Here’s a timeline for some of the historic events in Pakistan that are referenced by the articles, from Times of India.

Note: While it’s popular to paint Musharraf as a puppet of the US, this is definitely not something Americans support. Just saying this for the record. Musharraf is for Musharraf.

4 Replies to “State of Emergency in Pakistan: Constitution Suspended”

  1. Thanks and thanks for the help on the interview! Your comment helps to fill in a few blanks for those who don’t have your knowledge of all things Pakistan.

    Thanks for taking the time to stop over and add this info in the middle of a major crisis in Pakistan.

  2. Thanks for stopping by friend, America wants Pakistan to decide it’s fate, not a handful of extremists, nor a handful of politicians.

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