General Musharraf has crossed the Rubicon. Unless he wants to end with a rope around his neck or a bullet in his brain, he needs to be more ruthless and determined to see his coup completed. Pakistan is not going to be ruled by an elected president. If Musharraf listens to the US and the West, Pakistan will become another Iran after the Shah, only worse. It will be an Iran with nuclear weapons. A democratic change in Pakistan will only weaken the central government and play into the hands of the Islamists. US pressure on Pakistan to become a democracy, by the Bush Administration, is right out of the Jimmy Carter play book on losing.
Musharraf would be wise to look at the mistakes made by Batista in Cuba or the Shah in Iran and copy what the Chinese Communists did after Tiananmen Square. There is no democratic alternative for Pakistan as long as the Islamists infiltrate Pakistan society. Waziristan is ungovernable. Musharraf would be wise to recognize Waziristan as an independent state, let the crazies go there, and allow the West to figure out what to do with them. Musharraf has the worst job on the planet. He deserves our sympathy.
Musharraf declares martial law in Pakistan
By Massoud Ansari in Islamabad Telegraph
Last Updated: 2:16am GMT 04/11/2007
President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan last night declared a state of emergency, suspended the constitution and was expected to halt planned parliamentary elections for at least a year.
In a dramatic move ahead of an expected ruling by the Supreme Court to disqualify him as president, General Musharraf ordered soldiers into the court building to tell the country's chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry, that he was sacked.
Just 30 minutes after news was broadcast that the government was imposing emergency law, eight judges of the Supreme Court met and declared Gen Musharraf's orders "unconstitutional" and "illegal". But even as they did so, police and soldiers began detaining lawyers.
They also took most television and radio stations off the air and disrupted mobile telephone networks in the capital, Islamabad, and other cities.
Armoured vehicles moved into Islamabad soon after sunset and soldiers took over strategic buildings, including parliament. The streets emptied rapidly as residents returned to their homes.
Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister and opposition party leader who returned to Pakistan from exile last month, last night flew back to Karachi from Dubai, where she had been visiting family. She was escorted from the airport towards her house - itself surrounded by troops - by more than 100 police guards.
She said she believed that emergency rule was designed to delay elections by "at least one or two years".
Nisar Khuhro, a senior PPP leader, declared: "We cannot accept the derailment of democracy and will definitely resist and rally around people against it. Otherwise we will be back to square one."
Aitzaz Ahsan, a leading opposition lawyer who is president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, said outside his home: "One man has taken an entire nation hostage. The time has come for Gen Musharraf to go."
Fellow lawyers shouted "Go Musharraf, go!" as Mr Ahsan was arrested and driven away by police, giving a defiant victory sign to his supporters.
Gen Musharraf blamed the imposition of emergency law on the need for a crackdown which had been prevented by the judiciary. The proclamation order claimed that militants, extremists, terrorists and suicide bombers were being released from prisons on the orders of the judges.
It added: "Some members of the judiciary are working at cross-purposes with the executive and legislature in the fight against terrorism."
In a recorded television address last night, Gen Musharraf said emergency powers were needed to defend Pakistan from Islamic fundamentalists.
"Extremists are roaming around freely and they are not scared of law enforcement agencies," he said. "They want to run a parallel government and impose their extremist views on the rest of the country. It is a direct challenge to the stability of Pakistan."
After giving the majority of his address in Urdu, he gave a special message in English, asking Western nations to give Pakistan time to implement democracy.
"Please do not expect or demand your level of democracy which you learned over a number of centuries. Please give us time," he said.
The Sunday Telegraph has learned that Gen Musharraf's decision was made secretly on Friday. Soldiers were discreetly deployed across the country in preparation for yesterday's move.
In a television address Gen Musharraf said emergency powers were needed to defend Pakistan from islamic fundamentalists
Sources at the country's broadcasting authority, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, said they had orders to keep the dozens of independent television channels off the air indefinitely. Only the official state station was broadcasting subdued news reports last night.
The Supreme Court had been expected to rule this week on whether or not Gen Musharraf's recent re-election by MPs to a third term of office was valid. It forbade the election commission to declare the result officially until the case had been decided.
The plan - encouraged by America and Britain - had been for Ms Bhutto to support Gen Musharraf as president in return for the freedom to contest parliamentary elections, from which she hoped to emerge prime minister.
Gen Musharraf made up his mind to declare emergency law after hearing that the chief justice planned to summon the head of Pakistan's intelligence agencies this week to ask why hundreds of people were being held without charge.
Constitutional experts said the fact that eight of the court's 13 judges had immediately ruled the declaration of emergency illegal suggested that they would refuse to swear a new oath of loyalty.
Baz Khan Kakar, a lawyer at the Supreme Court, said: "The country will be in chaos as there will be no courts functioning." But the government said last night that another judge, Hameed Dogar, had been sworn in as the new chief justice.