I received this note today from a lawyer in Pakistan. I am delighted to be able to post it here:
The General Quagmire
For all his rhetoric of enlightened moderation and vows to ensure that democracy would see the light of day again in Pakistan, General Musharraf has proved to be no better than the other despicable military dictators who have abused this unfortunate country.
The façade of a volatile situation (courtesy the vicariously fought “War on Terror”) was created to justify the imposition of ‘emergency-plus’ (aka martial law), a concoction of the miserably inept government that, they hoped, would be a quick-fix to the real thorn in the General’s side– the independent judiciary and media.
Come 3rd November 2007, and within hours the face of the judiciary had changed with new, hand-picked, pro-Musharraf judges taking oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO, a Machiavellian concept instituted by the last military dictator, Zia ul Haq). Those judges who refused to take oath under the PCO were placed under house arrest. Lawyers, civil rights activists and ordinary civilians who took to the streets, to protest the imposition of martial law, were also whisked off to prison, but not before being brutally beaten. The country’s most popular private television networks were gagged, and the GEO network was eventually ordered to shut down all operations.
All the while General Musharraf maintained that whatever was being done was in the “best interests” of the country.
Does it also serve these “best interests” to beat and torture lawyers in prison? On Saturday 24th November 2007, a renowned lawyer, Munir A. Malik, was shifted to hospital with total renal failure. Rumours persist that he was either poisoned whilst in prison or punched on his kidneys, eventually leading to his condition.
He, and so many other heroes like him, remain remarkably defiant despite all they are going through.
The few who have been released tell chilling accounts of the mental and physical torture to which lawyers are subjected. Their only ‘crime’ being that they stood up for the rule of law and democracy in Pakistan.
What of the fate of the hundreds of lawyers and civil rights activists still languishing in dungeons around the country? Their fight is our fight! When they raise their heads to face the brutality of the police they sacrifice themselves for every Pakistani, and for the rights and liberties of all citizens of this country.
Alas, despite martial law and the hundreds of jawans (soldiers) nestled in their sandbag cocoons in every nook and cranny of the country, two bombs exploded in Rawalpindi last Saturday, and there has been a rocket attack on Turbat airport on Tuesday 27th November 2007.
Military training must be lacking severely, though no real surprises there as, the only thing the Army has done in the 60 traumatic years of Pakistan’s independence is lose wars, reign over and ruin the country and do the American’s bidding.
The state of things in Pakistan clearly point towards a deranged group of individuals at the helm of affairs, with not a care that the future of the country is at stake, nor for the suffering of millions. The Constitution, alongwith all fundamental human rights, have been suspended until such time as the General has had his fill of power.
Clearly, the long arm of Musharraf’s law is long enough for murder and torture, but it is just too short for justice.