The NewsFuror

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Q&A: Pakistan's political crisis

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has declared a state of emergency and suspended the constitution.

Gen Musharraf has been under growing pressure this year from opponents to his rule, while hundreds have died in violence as security forces battle pro-Taleban militants.

Why did the president take extraordinary measures?

He suspended the constitution because of what he called threats facing the nation.

Gen Musharraf addresses the nation on 3 Nov 2007
Gen Musharraf faces numerous challenges

He blamed unprecedented levels of violence from Islamist extremists, but correspondents say it is clear the main target is the judiciary which is accused of interfering in government policy and weakening the struggle against terrorism.

The Supreme Court has taken several decisions against the government recently.

Crucially, it has been hearing legal challenges to the president's re-election in October and there was fear in the government that it would rule against him, correspondents say.

Parliamentary elections are due in January, but it is not clear whether they will go ahead.

How has the move been seen?

It has been universally condemned by Gen Musharraf's opponents in Pakistan.

They say he is trying to cling to power and accuse him of acting unconstitutionally.

International criticism has been negative but muted.

The US and UK both expressed concern at developments, saying they wanted to see free and fair elections in Pakistan.

But both governments still see Gen Musharraf as their best bet for tackling extremism in Pakistan, and observers say this is unlikely to change at present.

Washington has a major influence in Pakistan, not least because it has been injecting huge amounts of financial support to the country since President Musharraf swung behind the US-led "war on terror" after the attacks on the US on 11 September, 2001.

But the US has shown signs of growing concern at the political unrest in Pakistan, the military's setbacks against the militant threat and the continuing accusations that militants can use Pakistan as a base to attack US and other foreign and local forces in Afghanistan.

Some observers believe that Washington's preferred option is for Gen Musharraf to stay in control of military matters - with an elected government led by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

What are the president's political rivals up to?

Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan on 18 October after years of self-imposed exile, promising to help restore democracy and to lead her party into the parliamentary elections.

Her Pakistan People's Party have been in prolonged negotiations with Gen Musharraf's advisers.

Gen Musharraf signed an amnesty clearing Ms Bhutto of corruption charges, a crucial step towards an expected power-sharing agreement. The Supreme Court was going to rule on whether that amnesty was legal. It is still not clear what effect emergency rule may have on any deal.

Another key issue still to be settled is her demand that a law banning anyone from being prime minister more than twice be repealed.

Both she and another former PM, Nawaz Sharif, have served two terms in office.

Mr Sharif tried to end seven years of exile by flying home to Pakistan on 10 September, but was promptly deported to Saudi Arabia.

Where are the other main challenges to Gen Musharraf coming from?

Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry - ousted on the same day that Gen Musharraf declared emergency rule - has proven a thorn in his side with a number of judgements against the government.

Gen Musharraf initially suspended him in March, but the move triggered a wave of protests from lawyers, and later opposition parties. The Supreme Court ordered his reinstatement.

He and other judges and lawyers have proved a focal point for opposition to Gen Musharraf and say his declaration of emergency rule is illegal.

Meanwhile, pro-Taleban militants have been spreading their wings, taking on the army in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan. There have also been a wave of attacks elsewhere in the country, including the capital, Islamabad.

Gen Musharraf angered militants and hard-line Islamic parties with his order for security forces to capture the radical Red Mosque in Islamabad in July - with the loss of more than 100 lives.

That led to a surge in suicide bombings.

How loyal is the army?

Gen Musharraf draws most of his influence from the army, which dominates the establishment of Pakistan, and through it its politics.

Observers are watching for signs of any cracks in the military's support for him. Elements within the intelligence services are accused of backing pro-Taleban militants and being unhappy with Kashmir policy.

Gen Musharraf had promised to step down as chief of army staff later this month.

Observers say that in doing so, he would risk losing leverage over the military. His influence could be undermined further if a popular prime minister came to the fore.

Critics say he has broken previous promises to quit his army role. Some say his declaration of emergency rule gives him the pretext to do that again.

Text of Pakistan emergency declaration

Following is the text of the "Proclamation of emergency", declared by Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf on 3 November.

Whereas there is visible ascendancy in the activities of extremists and incidents of terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, IED [improvised explosive device] explosions, rocket firing and bomb explosions and the banding together of some militant groups have taken such activities to an unprecedented level of violent intensity posing a grave threat to the life and property of the citizens of Pakistan;

Whereas there has also been a spate of attacks on state infrastructure and on law enforcement agencies;

Whereas some members of the judiciary are working at cross purposes with the executive and legislature in the fight against terrorism and extremism thereby weakening the government and the nation's resolve diluting the efficacy of its actions to control this menace;

Whereas there has been increasing interference by some members of the judiciary in government policy, adversely affecting economic growth, in particular;

Whereas constant interference in executive functions, including but not limited to the control of terrorist activity, economic policy, price controls, downsizing of corporations and urban planning, has weakened the writ of the government; 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 to be released. The persons so released have subsequently been involved in heinous terrorist activities, resulting in loss of human life and property. Militants across the country have, thus, been encouraged while law enforcement agencies subdued;

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;

Whereas an important constitutional institution, the Supreme Judicial Council, has been made entirely irrelevant and non est by a recent order and judges have, thus, made themselves immune from inquiry into their conduct and put themselves beyond accountability;

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

Whereas the law and order situation in the country as well as the economy have been adversely affected and trichotomy of powers eroded;

Whereas 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 this situation, there is no way out except through emergent and extraordinary measures;

And whereas the situation has been reviewed in meetings with the prime minister, governors of all four provinces and with the chairman joint chiefs of staff committee, chiefs of the armed forces, vice chief of army staff and corps commanders of the Pakistan army;

Now, therefore, in pursuance of the deliberations and decisions of the said meetings, I General Pervez Musharraf, Chief of Army Staff, proclaim emergency throughout Pakistan.

I hereby order and proclaim that the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan shall remain in abeyance.

This proclamation shall come into force at once.

Pakistan crisis tests US policy

President Musharraf and President Bush
The US has been measured in its criticism of President Musharraf

This is a dilemma that US President George W Bush would rather have avoided.

But events in Pakistan have forced the president to weigh up his two key foreign policy commitments: fighting the "global war on terror" and his promise to spread democracy and freedom.

As far as Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is concerned the US cannot have both - at least not yet.

Gen Musharraf's declaration of a state of emergency is a key test of US priorities.

And at the moment it appears that stability and having an ally in the fight against extremism is just as important as pressing ahead with elections.

So the criticisms of Pakistan's leader from the White House have been measured and careful.

Rather than picking up the phone himself President Bush got Condoleezza Rice to call President Musharraf to express his "deep disappointment".

Military assistance

In his only public comments President Bush talked of the need for elections to be held "as soon as possible" and for the general to discard his uniform as he had long promised.

But there was no warning from President Bush that America might pull the plug on the $1bn (£0.5bn) that it gives to Pakistan each year in mostly military assistance (the figure is probably much higher - but Washington does not talk about covert assistance).

A police officer kicks a tear gas canister towards lawyers protesting against President Musharraf in Lahore on 5 November 2007
Lawyers have been protesting against President Musharraf

Ms Rice has said that aid is now being reviewed - but at the moment it sounds more like an empty threat.

President Bush emphasised that he would continue to work with President Musharraf in the fight against Islamic extremism.

But many in Washington will hope that events in Pakistan will now force a reassessment on US policy towards Pakistan.

There are plenty who doubt not just President Musharraf's commitment to democracy - but also his efforts to tackle extremism.

Al-Qaeda's leaders have found a hideout in Pakistan, the Taleban are still entrenched in the north-west of the country.

On democracy President Musharraf appears to have confirmed the critics' worst fears.

Despite his countless promises of moving towards democracy he has kept his uniform and made life as difficult as possible for his political opponents.

Few alternatives

What is more, he snubbed the Bush administration's direct pleas not to declare a state of emergency.

Surely this is a man who cannot be trusted, critics would say.

But for the Bush administration there appear to be few alternatives.

Yes, they have encouraged President Musharraf to enter a political pact with Benazir Bhutto.

But there is no sense in the state department or the White House that they have backed the wrong horse.

Few could predict what would happen if President Musharraf were ousted from power.

The Bush administration has been far more cautious in lecturing allies about democracy after the Palestinian elections that brought Hamas to power.

Daniel Markey, who until recently served on the state department's policy planning staff, says that delaying democracy weakens the Pakistani government's capacity to fight extremism in the short term - and sows the seeds of more extremism in the long run.

In an article for the journal Foreign Affairs Mr Markey argues that the choice between supporting Pakistan's army and promoting democracy is false.

He says the US will only succeed in prosecuting the long war against extremism both by empowering Pakistan's civilians and by earning the trust of the army.

President Bush still needs both.

Pakistani people 'anxious and angry'

Police have dispersed protests by Pakistani lawyers against the country's state of emergency.

President Pervez Musharraf declared the emergency on Saturday, saying he was acting to curb extremism.

Most of the people in Pakistan who contacted the BBC News website condemn the emergency rule as they fear that it will have negative consequences for the future of the country.


There is lots of tension and insecurity in the air. On my way to work today I could see many riot police gathered to disperse crowds.

Student protest in Karachi, 5/11/07
Noman Ahmed Burney took this photo of a student protest in Karachi
People are very worried and not just about what is happening on the streets. The economy is a big concern now, there'll be inflation and price hikes.

I wasn't really surprised when I heard about the emergency rule. Musharraf probably got a pretty good idea about whether the Supreme Court was going to rule in his favour or not. He is going to cling to power for as long as he can.

Nobody believes the official reasons given for this action. The security problems are not since yesterday and it's not the insurgents, but the government to blame for the escalation of violence.

The state of emergency is not only not going to solve the existing problems - it will create more tension and more violence.


I believe that the emergency rule is a very good thing. Some people refuse to understand what the country has been going through in the last year.

Thousands of innocent people and military personnel are dying, and not just in the tribal areas.

At the moment, Musharraf is the only capable person to deal with this situation. In fact, he should have declared state of emergency long time ago. This is the only way to deal with the increasing militancy in Pakistan.

This is an extreme measure and it is not democratic, but if that's what the country has to come to, then so be it. I think the situation is so serious that we should all sacrifice some of our freedoms, to gain better security.

Musharraf has done many good things to this country. The economy has changed dramatically, infrastructure is better and there's so much more development. Now emergency rule will sort out the problems with terrorism.


This morning I went to the District Court, but I could not get in - the gates were locked. There were about 2,000 lawyers gathered there.

Sardar Tariq Hussain
Sardar Tariq Hussain: We'll continue our struggle
There was a large number of police trying to prevent us from going to work. They were beating us, pushing and treating us in a very rude way. Many were arrested.

We were not allowed to stay there or gather anywhere on the streets. The place was overcrowded, you could not park anywhere, so eventually 30 of us went to the office of a senior advocate of the Supreme Court.

There we passed a resolution against the illegal acts of the government. We all condemn this action - it is going to do nothing good for the country.

The only thing that it will achieve is to make the terrorists stronger.

It is clear to everyone that the move is designed to prolong Musharraf's presidency. This is not just my personal opinion - everyone I know feels that way.

This is a very critical situation. We are all extremely disappointed that such action is taken. We are under pressure and feel very anxious.

We are determined to go to work every day and protest against the government's actions. The struggle will continue until the judiciary gains its independence.


My cousin, who is a lawyer for the Supreme Court in Lahore, got arrested yesterday. He took part in protests during the day and in the evening police came to his house and took him away.

Since he was arrested he hasn't been in touch with his family. No-one knows where he is. That's what happens with martial law - the army can detain people without giving information about their well-being and whereabouts.

When I heard this news I was at home trying to watch the BBC. The national TV channels are off air and we can only view satellite channels. We have no access to information.

The declaration of emergency rule is illegal and people are very angry about it. I cannot begin to describe the intensity of anger against Musharraf in Lahore and I think that many more people will take to the streets in the days to come.

Musharraf is trying to save his job and he is prepared to destroy all institutions.

There's a big uncertainty over the future of Pakistan. People don't feel safe.

The emergency rule will create political adversaries. The law and order situation will get worse. The economy will suffer, businesses will be affected badly and prices will go up.

The common man will not be able to survive. The country itself is in danger.


There've been sporadic protests in Islamabad, nothing like what's been happening in Lahore. Some lawyers, NGO workers and students came out to protest.

Yasser Hamdani
Yasser Hamdani: This is an attack on the civil society
There's been a complete shutdown - we don't even know where to go to protest. The army doesn't let people move freely. Various key areas are cordoned off and vehicles are being stopped and turned away.

As far as everyday life goes, everything is normal. But all the TV channels are cut, including the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera. People are hungry for information. Rumours of all kind are circulating.

The declaration of state of emergency is not really directed against the terrorists, as Musharraf says. The people who are being put behind bars are lawyers and human rights activists. This is an attack on the civil society.

The worsening security situation in Pakistan is not a good reason to impose martial law.

The situation has never been so bad for press freedom and democracy. And democracy is the only way to fight terrorism.

I haven't met a single person who supports what Musharraf has done. Even his most staunch supporters condemn his actions. A year ago I was myself on his side, but not any more.

He is behaving like a man who works with terrorists and supports their cause.

Now we are left with a huge uncertainty. Only one thing is certain - elections will be postponed.

I don't understand why the West is not harsher with Musharraf. I am a big fan of Gordon Brown, but he and Condoleezza Rice didn't do anything to prevent this from happening. We are left without support from the outside.

I think the West should impose sanctions against the military regime, because this martial law is illegal.

Pakistan's circular history

A marble edifice honours Pakistan's founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah
A marble edifice honours Pakistan's founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah
The story of Pakistan is one of remorseless tug and pull between the civilian and military rulers on the one hand, and the liberal and religious forces on the other.

In the process, the country has failed to become either a democracy, a theocracy or a permanent military dictatorship.

The chief casualties have been the rule of law, the state institutions and the process of national integration, with grave consequences for the civil society.

The "Talebanisation" of the north-western region is one manifestation of the prevalent disorder; an unending separatist campaign by nationalists in the south-western Balochistan province is another.

Meanwhile, sectarian and ethnic tensions have kept the two largest provinces - namely Punjab, which is the bread-basket of the country, and Sindh, which is its trading and industrial mainstay - perennially instable.

How and why did all this come about?

Hybrid system

The country was born in 1947 with a clean slate and a potential to follow in one of two directions.

It could opt for democracy. It had inherited democratic institutions and experience from the colonial rule, and was itself the creation of a democratic process involving national elections, parliamentary resolutions and a referendum.

Or it could become an Islamic emirate. The Pakistan movement was based on the theory that the Muslims of India were a nation and had a right to separate statehood.

Mohammed Ali Jinnah
Mr Jinnah made some controversial decisions
They were granted separate electorate by the British rulers, and used Islamic identity as their main election slogan in 1937 and 1946.

But instead of making a clear choice, the early leaders tried to mix the two, and inadvertently sparked a series of political, legal and religious debacles that define today's Pakistan.

In political terms, democracy has been the first casualty of this hybrid system.

Its foundations were shaken by two controversial decisions made by the country's founder and first Governor-General, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

He dismissed the Congress-led government of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) by decree, and instead of ordering fresh elections, appointed a Muslim League leader as the chief minister with the mandate to whip up parliamentary support for himself.

Secondly, he declared to a large Bengali speaking audience in Dhaka, the capital of East Pakistan, that Urdu would be the only state language.


The first action created a precedent for Governor-General Ghulam Mohammad, a former bureaucrat, to dismiss the country's first civilian government in 1953.

Since then, the governor-generals, presidents and army chiefs have dismissed as many as ten civilian governments that together ruled the country for 27 years. The remaining 33 years have seen direct military rule.

Mr Jinnah's second action alienated the Bengali population of the eastern wing, and set a precedent for the West Pakistani rulers to neutralise the numerical superiority of East Pakistan through legal entrapments and outright disenfranchisement.

Baloch militiamen
Baluchistan has a long history of resisting external influences
After the secession of East Pakistan in 1971, the military rulers have repeatedly vitiated the federal and parliamentary character of the 1973 Constitution, thereby alienating the three smaller provinces of the remaining country.

Legal safeguards against tyranny fell by the wayside in 1954 when the Supreme Court justified the governor-general's dismissal of the government and the parliament by invoking the controversial 'theory of necessity'.

The theory has endured, and nearly every dismissal of a civilian government and every military takeover have been upheld by the higher judiciary, undermining democratic traditions.

On their part, the military rulers have co-opted both surrogate politicians and religious extremists as instruments of political strategy and national security policy.

The political recruits have provided a civilian façade to military governments, while religious - and sometimes ethnic - extremists have tended to distract and destabilise governments run by secular political forces.

Aid to dictators

Last, but not least, the Americans have tended to use their crucial financial and military support selectively against democratic governments.

The pattern is unmistakably clear.

The first large-scale American food and military aid started to pour into Pakistan in late 1953, months after the dismissal of its first civilian government.

Demonstration at Red Mosque
Mullahs of the Red Mosque had openly threatened the government'
It continued for a decade as Pakistan under a military regime joined various US-sponsored defence pacts against the Soviet Union.

The US started having problems with Pakistan when an elected government came to power in 1972, but poured billions of dollars into the country when another military regime took over in 1977 and agreed to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Similarly, while the elected governments that followed during 1988-99 had to live with a decade of US sanctions, the military regime of Gen Musharraf, that ousted the last civilian government in 1999, remains a 'well supplied' ally in the US' 'war on terror'.

There are, however, indications that the Americans may finally be getting fed up with Gen Musharraf, just as they got fed up with General Ayub Khan when he started to warm up to the Soviet Union after the 1965 war with India, or of General Zia-ul Haq when the Soviets decided to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in 1987.

There is also a gathering political storm on the horizon, in keeping with the cyclical pattern of the country's political weather.

As elections approach, exiled leaders Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, both former prime ministers, threaten to return to the country with the express aim of effecting a regime change.

But Gen Musharraf, like his predecessors, is fighting to keep his military office and his special powers under the constitution to dismiss governments and parliaments.

Thus, the story of Pakistan continues to be one of despotic regimes using religious extremists and external support to keep the secular democratic forces at bay; and when these forces do assert themselves, to tie them down in legal constraints that are designed to ensure their failure.

It is the story of a society that has been going round in circles for the last 60 years.

Timeline: Pakistan emergency rule

Timeline: Pakistan emergency rule
Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has declared emergency rule. This is how the day unfolded (times are in GMT - 1200 GMT is 1700 local time in Pakistan).

2255 Benazir Bhutto tells BBC the declaration of an emergency has moved Pakistan towards a dictatorship

2000 Opposition figure and former national cricket captain Imran Khan has been put under house arrest, an aide announces

1840 Gen Musharraf goes on TV to say he is saving Pakistan from "suicide"

1750 White House National Security Council expresses disappointment and calls on Gen Musharraf to step down as army chief before retaking the presidential oath

1640 UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband says it is vital Pakistan holds free and fair elections on schedule

1615 US state department says it is "deeply disturbed" by emergency rule

1610 Paramilitary troops surround Benazir Bhutto's house in Karachi, witnesses say

1550 State TV says new chief justice appointed

1545 The chief justice and other judges leave the court in a convoy under police escort, witnesses say

1515 India says it regrets "the difficult times that Pakistan is passing through" and looks forward to the return of "normalcy"

1430 Leading lawyer and opposition leader Aitzaz Ahsan is detained

1410 Former PM Benazir Bhutto is said to be on her way back to Pakistan from Dubai

1400 Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry is told his "services are no longer required", media report. It is also reported that the constitution has been suspended

1330 Reports say paramilitary troops deployed to radio and TV station, as police surround the Supreme Court

1310 State TV reports emergency rule has been declared

1240 Private TV stations go off air

1220 Pakistani TV stations report that state of emergency is imminent

General Musharraf: For and against

President Pervez Musharraf faces a wave of criticism after imposing emergency rule in Pakistan on Saturday. So how are the forces lined up for and against him?


A militant in Swat district
Militants have been defying the government

Pro-Taleban militants are determined to overthrow Gen Musharraf by force.

They control substantial areas along the Afghan border. More worryingly for the government, they have, in recent months, extended their control east and north.

They have carried out deadly attacks in the capital, Islamabad, and the main garrison town, Rawalpindi.

They have inflicted humiliating defeats on the army, capturing hundreds of soldiers this year.


The most visible protests are coming from lawyers and judges outraged by the suspension of the constitution. Most of the judges are, in the eyes of Gen Musharraf, out of a job as they have refused to sign a new oath of loyalty to the provisional constitution.

The most prominent of them is Iftikhar Chaudhry, who as chief justice of the Supreme Court had become a focus of opposition to the president. He, like many colleagues, is in effect under house arrest.


Saturday's crackdown targeted a wide range of parties. They include the secular PML-N of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party of Qazi Hussain Ahmed and the small Movement for Justice party of former cricket star Imran Khan.

Mr Sharif is in exile but will be hoping his refusal to negotiate with Gen Musharraf will boost his popularity in the current crisis.


Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) appears not to have been targeted in the crackdown.

Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto
Ms Bhutto - will her talks with Gen Musharraf succeed

She and Gen Musharraf are in prolonged negotiations over a power-sharing deal. The PPP has the biggest grass-roots support of any party in Pakistan. The United States is keen on a deal partly because it is so alarmed by Gen Musharraf's declining popularity and his failures in the war against militants. Many of Ms Bhutto's supporters have deep reservations over her talks with Gen Musharraf.

One important Islamist party, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI) of Fazlur Rehman, has not yet been targeted, reports say. It too is understood to be involved in power-sharing talks with the government. The governing party, the PML-Q, has little popular support and could lose out to the PPP if the latter comes into government.


Most Pakistanis showed little reaction to the state of emergency, with no mass street protests or big displays of support for Gen Musharraf's move. There is widespread disenchantment with the failures of democracy in the country and the failures of successive military rulers to do any better.

If Ms Bhutto's talks with Gen Musharraf break down, she may decide to embark on a campaign of mass protests.


The army is the dominant power in Pakistan. President Musharraf had promised to step down as head of the army later this month. His advisers are now casting doubt on whether that will happen. Observers will be watching for any sign of cracks in the army's support for him.

The powerful intelligence services are still believed to contain elements unhappy with his attacks on Islamist militants and the way he has withdrawn support for militants fighting Indian forces in Kashmir.


The government has been alarmed at how burgeoning news channels have given huge coverage to anti-Musharraf protests in recent months. Now cable operators have been stopped from transmitting TV news within the country.

FM radio stations have also been banned from broadcasting news. The BBC's Urdu language radio broadcasts, which have huge audiences, are still available on medium and short-wave.

Internet news websites have not been affected.

Newspapers, many of which have been highly critical of Gen Musharraf, appear to be ignoring new rules saying that they must not print anything critical of the government. Only some 1.5 million Pakistanis are estimated to read newspapers.


US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is insisting that Gen Musharraf honours his commitment to step down as head of the army and that parliamentary elections go ahead as planned. That position is being backed by the UK.

The US is also reviewing is substantial aid programme to Pakistan. However, there is no indication that the US would be prepared to end its support for Gen Musharraf, given the role he is playing in its self-declared war on terror.


The offices of the country's leading rights organisation, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, have been raided. Its chairwoman, Asma Jehangir, has been confined to her home, as has the founder of the organisation, IA Rehman.

Does Musharraf face risk of a coup?

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was forced to dismiss rumours circulating on Monday that he had been placed under house arrest, just two days after he declared emergency rule.

1999 coup
So far, coups in Pakistan have been against civilian governments

As things stand, there is little reason to believe that Gen Musharraf, who is both president and head of the army, is in imminent danger of being removed from office by force.

There are only two groups of people who would appear to have the capacity to move against Gen Musharraf and arrest him.

One is his immediate subordinates in the army, including the heads of the intelligence services.

The other is the corps commanders who constitute the second tier of the leadership of the military.

Gen Musharraf's position depends on the personal loyalty to him of those who serve him and also the institutional loyalty of military men to their chief.

On both counts, the odds looked stacked well in favour of Gen Musharraf.


The only positions from which it looks as if a coup could be organised are those of the deputy head of the army and the chiefs of two intelligence services, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI).

Pervez Musharraf
Gen Musharraf has handpicked his top men

The present holders of those posts were hand-picked by Gen Musharraf, apparently on the basis of his understanding of their loyalty and competence.

Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiani was recently promoted and appointed as the deputy chief of the army and nominated by Gen Musharraf as his successor to the top military post.

Gen Kiani was instrumental in overseeing the investigations into two attempts on Gen Musharraf's life in 2003, bringing a number of low-ranking military personnel to a court martial.

At a farewell dinner held for some retiring army officers last month, Gen Musharraf devoted a large part of his speech to Gen Kiani's merits, and said that "both of us think alike".

The Director-General of the ISI, Lt Gen Nadim Taj, has served as Gen Musharraf's military secretary (MS), a position which is normally given to a close confidante.

Gen Taj was also on the fateful plane that took Gen Musharraf from Sri Lanka to Karachi, and then to the corridors of power in Islamabad, on 12 October 1999.

The government of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sacked Gen Musharraf and ordered his plane to be diverted, sparking the coup that ended 10 years of democratic rule in Pakistan.

Obscure position

The head of Military Intelligence, Major-Gen Nadim Ejaz, is also a confidante and a close relative of Gen Musharraf's wife, Sehba Musharraf.

Nawaz Sharif
Nawaz Sharif was deposed by Musharraf in a 1999 coup

Gen Musharraf brought him from an obscure position in the ISI to head the MI, and gave him important assignments in Balochistan province as well as the tribal areas in the north-west.

There is no visible pressure on these officials to move against Gen Musharraf. On the contrary, they would be under pressure to support Gen Musharraf's dispensation in order to stabilise their own newly acquired positions.

In some quarters it has been suggested that Gen Kiani may have a motive to stage a coup, since he would be the man to step into Gen Musharraf's shoes.


So far in Pakistan's history, the coups have been staged by army chiefs only against civilian leaders.

So a counter-coup from within the army would be unprecedented.

In the past, the army chiefs have moved against civilian governments on the basis of perceived threats to national integrity that may or may not have been real.

Lt Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiani
Lt Gen Kiani is army second in command

But for a coup to be directed against a ruler who is also the army chief, the threat would have to be a real one.

If millions of people were to pour out onto the streets against President Musharraf, and the law and order machinery were to break down, then powerful elements in the military might indeed believe there was a threat to national integrity.

That only looks possible now should Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party join forces with lawyers and other opposition groups that are trying to mobilise support for anti-Musharraf protests.

But Ms Bhutto is currently engaged in delicate power-sharing negotiations with Gen Musharraf.

And one of the noticeable things about the current protests in Pakistan after Saturday's declaration of emergency rule is that the street protests have been relatively small scale.

Perhaps for now Gen Musharraf will be more worried about the continued threat of assassination, either from the thousands of pro-Taleban militants waging war against the army, or disgruntled lower-ranking members of the military.

Indian share market at new high

Stockbrokers in Mumbai
Indian markets have had a stellar year so far
India's main stock index, the Sensex, hit yet another record high on Friday.

The surge of 2.3% by mid-morning trading came despite plans for legislation to tighten investment rules for unregistered foreigners.

The Sensex gained 431.55 points to 19,202.44 - beating the previous high of 19,198.66, set on 18 October.

Last week, the stock market regulator proposed urgent curbs on the flow of foreign funds into shares, in order to stop the market overheating.

This led to a brief slump in the market, but shares soon recovered after India's finance minister said there was no need for alarm.

Safe haven

The regulator's recommendation relates to participatory notes - a form of investment used by hedge funds and other foreign investors who are not registered in India.

The proposal is aimed at countering a surge in foreign money that has caused Indian share prices to rise sharply, worrying some policymakers about its potential impact on the broader economy.

There is also a concern that because much of the investment is coming from unregistered firms, those investors could easily pull out, damaging the markets.

Analysts at JP Morgan suggest that of the $17bn of foreign funds invested in India so far this year, about $10bn has been in participatory notes.

India is seen by many investors as one of the safest havens among the emerging markets, as investors try to tap into one of the world's best-performing economies.

Militants free Pakistani troops

Pro-Taleban militants have released more than 200 Pakistani soldiers who were captured near the Afghan border in August, military officials have said.

The soldiers were handed over to tribal elders in South Waziristan, the lawless region where they were being held.

The Pakistani authorities released 28 militants in exchange, reports say.

The soldiers were captured on 30 August, without a shot being fired, as their convoy was taking supplies to remote army camps.

"The soldiers have returned to their camp in South Waziristan," Maj-Gen Waheed Arshad said.

The kidnappers, who are loyal to Taleban commander Baitullah Mehsud, were demanding the release of jailed comrades in return for the soldiers' freedom.

One of the negotiators who secured the soldiers' release told the BBC that the authorities had agreed to release nearly 30 militants - some of them suspected suicide bombers.

A military spokesman only confirmed that the local authorities had released some detained tribesmen

Three of the kidnapped soldiers were killed by militants in September as a warning to the government not to launch a rescue operation.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan, who recently travelled to the militants' camp to meet the captured men, says the capture of the soldiers was a major blow to the Pakistani army which is having to deal with lowering morale among its troops.

Pakistan has tens of thousands of troops in the area, struggling to quell unrest in a region where tribesmen do not recognise the Islamabad government.

The US says the area has become a safe haven for al-Qaeda since the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Cricket on amid Pakistani crisis

Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik and Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (right)
Attention is focused on the cricket field despite the political crisis
Pakistan's eagerly awaited cricket tour of India has begun against the backdrop of political uncertainty back at home.

The two sides are competing in a series of five one-day internationals, the first in Guwahati, in north-east India.

The two teams will also play three Test matches in what promises to be a passionate series.

The contest between the arch-rivals began on Monday, two days after President General Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule in Pakistan.

For tens of millions of fans in both countries, what matters over the next few weeks is not politics - it is cricket.


The first one-day international is taking place in Assam, in India's restive north-east.

Pakistan's coach, Geoff Lawson, has described the series as bigger than the Ashes, and every game will be fiercely competitive.

But the attention focused on the cricket is also a reminder of how much these two traditional rivals have in common.

India is certainly looking across the border with concern as events in Pakistan unfold.

But many Indians are more interested in decisions made on the pitch by Shoaib Akhtar and Shahid Afridi, than in decisions made in the field of politics by Pervez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto.

Pakistan's stock market slides 5%

A Pakistani lawyer throws a rock at police amid tear gas fumes
Police have used tear gas and batons to break up demonstrations
Pakistan's main stock market has fallen nearly 5% as investors reacted to the emergency rule imposed by President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday.

The fall was the biggest one-day decline on the Karachi Stock Exchange 100-share index for 16 months.

The benchmark KSE index ended the day down 4.6% at 13,279.60.

"I think any long term investment, and any sort of clean and productive money isn't going to come in now," said Asad Saeed, a Karachi-based economist.

The uncertainty also saw the rupee currency fall to its lowest value since 27 August.

Political landscape 'uncertain'

The KSE share index fell by 2.5% when trading got underway on Monday.

However, the index fell further on the back of a number of rumours. One of the rumours - denied by officials - said that President Musharraf had been put under house arrest by the vice-chief of the army.

President Musharraf declared the emergency on Saturday, saying he was acting to curb extremism.

Some analysts think the move could delay national elections due in January.

On Monday police used tear gas and batons to break up demonstrations by Pakistani lawyers against the state of emergency.

"Going back to democracy will take time now. The political landscape is now a lot more uncertain than before," said Dilip Shahani, Hong Kong-based HSBS credit analyst.

The main stock index has risen more than 1,000% since the end of 2001 and last month reached its peak of 14,908.91.

Bainimarama defends Fiji arrests

Fiji's military leader has defended the recent arrests of 16 people over an alleged plot to assassinate him.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama said the Pacific Island nation would have faced instability and bloodshed if troops and police had not acted to defend him.

Those arrested since the weekend include businessmen and politicians, as well as two New Zealand nationals.

Six people have now been charged with offences including treason and inciting mutiny, a police spokesman said.

The wave of arrests has drawn international concern, with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark accusing Cmdr Bainimarama of trying to silence his critics.

The military leader seized power in a bloodless coup in late 2006, ousting Laisenia Qarase's democratically elected government. He has pledged to hold polls in 2009.

'Serious unrest'

Cmdr Bainimarama told reporters in the Fijian capital, Suva, that he felt "happy to be alive".

Police and the military had "uncovered a situation which, if not foiled, would have led to serious unrest, bloodshed and instability in Fiji", he said.

Map of Fiji
No concrete details have been given about the alleged plot, but Cmdr Bainimarama earlier blamed it on "disgruntled groups" affected by his anti-corruption drive.

Some of the accused were due in court on Tuesday, but their appearances were reportedly delayed by arguments between police and prosecutors over the charges.

Public prosecutors had been threatened with arrest if they did not take the case to court, the Fiji Times reported.

Cmdr Bainimarama played down earlier comments by Fiji's police commissioner, Esala Teleni, pointing to the involvement of "foreign governments", saying he regretted "sensational reporting of this matter".

"At no time have we directly implicated Australia or New Zealand in this foiled assassination plot," he said.

Both New Zealand and Australia have dismissed the suggestion they were involved with the alleged plot.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told reporters the allegations were "completely absurd", while Mrs Clark described the claims as "wild statements".

Mrs Clark, meanwhile, said that diplomats had received no access to the detained New Zealanders.

Once of them, businessman Ballu Khan, was reported to have been badly beaten during his arrest.

India surgery on many-limbed girl

Lakshmi is named after the Hindu goddess of wealth
Doctors in India are attempting rare surgery to give a chance of a normal life to a two-year-old child who was born with four arms and four legs.

Lakshmi Tatma is joined at the pelvis to what is, in effect, a headless, undeveloped twin.

A team of surgeons in the southern city of Bangalore will be working in shifts to separate Lakshmi's spinal column and kidney from that of her twin.

It is hoped the procedure will allow her to survive beyond adolescence.

"We have just about started the surgery, opened the abdomen so it's very early days yet," the doctor leading the operation, Sharan Patil, told the BBC's World Today programme.


"We have prepared ourselves for 40 hours of continuous surgery, however if everything goes smoothly it will finish much quicker," he said.

Dr Patil said he heard about "this little girl in the state of Bihar that she needed particular help and I did reach out and went to this small village near the border with Nepal.


"It was appalling to find her with an infected sore and suffering from continuous fever without any medical help."

Dr Patil added that the girl's parents were eager for the operation to be performed.

"The villagers and some of the relations were not so keen about going ahead with the surgery but the parents are looking to the future and they were very, very keen and motivated to have medical intervention," he said.

The child has been hailed by some in her village in the northern state of Bihar as the reincarnation of the multi-limbed Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.

Conjoined twins are rare, occurring in about one in every 200,000 births.

They originate from a single fertilised egg, so they are always identical and of the same sex.

The overall survival rate of conjoined twins is somewhere between 5% and 25%.

Historical records over the past 500 years detail about 600 surviving sets of conjoined twins - more than 70% of which have been female twins.

Kenya police accused over deaths

Kenyan police search for Mungiki members in Mathare, Nairobi
Police made hundreds of arrests of Mungiki members in June
Kenyan police have been accused of the execution-style killings of nearly 500 people in and around the capital, Nairobi, over the past five months.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) made the claim after investigating the disappearance of hundreds of men from the Mungiki sect.

Police carried out a major operation against the outlawed criminal gang in June after a series of grisly murders.

The allegations have been dismissed as "irresponsible" by a police spokesman.

'Classic execution signs'

A dossier drawn up by the KNCHR alleges that police were behind the execution-style killings of nearly 500 men between June and October this year.

Most of the bodies were found at the main mortuary in Nairobi after relatives reported loved ones missing following a major police operation against the Mungiki sect.

Observers at the time said the police campaign also led to the deaths of several innocent civilians.

The KNCHR dossier says that almost all the bodies bear the "classic execution signs of a bullet behind the head", leading to what they claim is the inescapable conclusion that the police could be complicit in the killing.

The human rights group has challenged the police to justify how hundreds of bodies turned up in mortuaries in such a short time, but the police cannot explain the deaths.

The police have rejected the report as "irresponsible" and have denied any involvement.

Top judge Iftikhar Chaudhry attacks Musharraf rule

Lawyers protest in Islamabad on Tuesday 6 November 2007
Gen Musharraf sacked and swiftly replaced Iftikhar Chaudhry
Pakistan's sacked chief justice has called for the people to "rise up" and restore the constitution.

In a telephone address to lawyers in Islamabad, Iftikhar Chaudhry criticised President Pervez Musharraf, who imposed a state of emergency on Saturday.

He said the constitution had been "ripped to shreds" by Gen Musharraf and added it was now "time for sacrifices".

US President George W Bush has called on Gen Musharraf to end the emergency and restore democratic civilian rule.

Gen Musharraf said on Monday he had declared the state of emergency because of a crisis caused by militant violence and an unruly judiciary.


Mr Chaudhry was sacked after he and eight other judges refused to endorse the order, declaring it unconstitutional.

Gen Musharraf swiftly replaced him and the Supreme Court was surrounded by troops.

Critics have said Gen Musharraf imposed a state of emergency to pre-empt a judgment by the Supreme Court on whether his re-election last month was legal.

Mr Chaudhry told lawyers on Tuesday: "The Supreme Court followed the constitution and the law in making all its decisions. The president's accusations are baseless.

"The constitution has been ripped to shreds. The lawyers should convey my message to the people to rise up and restore the constitution.

"This is a time for sacrifices. I am under arrest now, but soon I will also join you in your struggle."

The former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, echoed his calls for the constitution to be restored at a Karachi press conference.

"We want General Musharraf to abide by his promise, which he made to us and the people of Pakistan, to give up his uniform as army chief," she said.

"We want elections to be held on schedule. The government refrain from violence... it is the duty of the government to protect the people."

The Pakistani cabinet is expected to meet later to discuss the parliamentary elections, which are supposed to take place by January.

On Monday, prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said the vote would go ahead on schedule, but his deputy information minister later told the BBC the elections could be delayed by as much as a year.


Lawyers have called for three days of protests and strikes against the suspension of the constitution.

But police stifled their demonstrations on Monday and have deployed in large numbers to prevent any more.

Hundreds of lawyers and political opponents have been detained.

Pakistan has come under heavy international pressure since Gen Musharraf imposed emergency rule.

Mr Bush urged President Musharraf to quit his post as head of the army and hold elections as soon as possible.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed grave concern and called for the release of all those detained since the state of emergency was declared.

The UK has also reiterated demands for a return to civilian rule in Pakistan.

The Netherlands became the first country to suspend aid, and the EU said its members were considering "possible further steps".

But Gen Musharraf said confidence in his government would soon return and insisted he still planned to give up his military post, as he had been scheduled to do this month.

Sweden great Liedholm dies at 85

Nils Liedholm
Liedholm was both player and coach at Milan
Former Sweden and AC Milan legend Nils Liedholm has died at the age of 85.

Liedholm was a member of the Sweden side that won the 1948 Olympic title and also captained the 1958 World Cup team which lost to Brazil in the final.

The midfielder won four Serie A titles in the 1950s with Milan, before going on to become a successful coach.

"Heaven makes room for Nils Liedholm," said a Milan statement. "Maestro of irony, a true, irreplaceable football champion, a winning, innovative coach."

As a coach Liedholm won the Serie A title with Milan in 1979 and AS Roma in 1983.

He also took Roma to the 1984 European Cup final which they lost to Liverpool on penalties.

His funeral will take place in Cuccaro, the town where he lived, on Thursday.

"With him goes a huge part of Milan's history, but his memory will remain indelible for all Milan fans and football aficionados," added the Milan statement.

Former Sweden coach Tommy Svensson said Liedholm had been a key figure in the country's football development.

"Nils was one of the first players to go to Italy," Svensson told BBC Sport. "That was important for Swedish football and was a key reason why the team did so well at the 1958 World Cup.

"He never managed the Swedish national team because our association thought it was impossible to persuade him to leave Italy, where he was so settled."