ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER/PRODUCER: In Pakistan on Friday, heavily armed police blockaded former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in her home. Thousands of opposition members have been rounded up and jailed. And despite the government’s effort to squash demonstrations, pockets of resistance have erupted across the country. As President and General Pervez Musharraf’s state of emergency heads into its second week, tensions in Pakistan are on the rise. The Real News spoke to Pakistani journalist Beena Sarwar.
VOICE OF BEENA SARWAR, KARACHI, PAKISTAN: The protest is very widespread, it’s very diverse, and it’s very decentralized. You have different pockets of resistance. You have the People’s Party that has now come in and is resisting.
BENAZIR BHUTTO, LEADER, PAKISTAN PEOPLES PARTY (PPP): I’m calling upon my countrymen to join me. This is not a battle for Benazir Bhutto; this is not a battle for Pakistan Peoples Party; this is a battle to save Pakistan, to save Pakistan from the forces of extremism. How can they do this day after day? They can’t. How long can they keep these barbed wires? How long can they keep these blockades? Tomorrow these barbed wires will be removed, and tomorrow we will come forth again, and we will come forth again, until our demands are met, until our aspirations are met, which is for a democratic Pakistan. We’re trying to save Pakistan. So we would like the international and domestic pressure to continue until we can have a neutral caretaker government holding elections on schedule. That’s our demand right now.
SARWAR: What Benazir has demanded and what other people are demanding also is the restoration of the Constitution, and that includes a restoration of the deposed judges. You have the intelligentsia and the human rights people who are continuing to, you know, resist in any way they can. You have the lawyers who are—have vowed not to step down. You have a lot of young people, the techies, the people who have, you know, the blogs and the Wikis and the texting and all of that, and many of them converge with the other groups and are getting word out to fellow Pakistanis and also the world over. So there’s a lot of awareness about the protests, about the protests, about the refusal to accept the emergency, the feeling of outrage about it. But I don’t see the resistance going away. I have heard lawyers say things like we’ll lose our jobs, we’ll stop practicing law, but we’ll not appear before these judges. One lawyer that I spoke to today, said that–he was a slightly older gentleman—and he said that, you know, I know I’m going to be arrested on Monday or any day, and he carries his medication with him in case he’s hauled off to the lockup. So, they know that despite the risks, people are speaking out in the campuses.
(shouting, screaming women: “Do not hit, do not hit”)
It’s hard to say what’s going to happen, because the leadership, is all under house arrest or in prison, and many of them are being held incommunicado. So it’s very hard to know, because there’s very little leadership that we can see.
NKWETA: In recent developments, Pakistani media reported that the detention orders against Benazir Bhutto have been revoked and she is free to leave her home.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.