Crisis in Pakistan
The latest violence which followed today’s reopening of Islamabad’s Red Mosque once again dramatizes the pressures facing Pakistan’s President. Musharraf’s western allies accuse him of not doing enough in the "war on terror" while at home he is under attack by religious militants and a growing pro- democracy movement. The latter scored a major victory last week when Pakistan’s Supreme Court reinstated Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who had been suspended last March. The suspension sparked a mass movement led by lawyers, challenging the constitutionality of Musharraf’s actions. Beena Sarwar reports on the dramatic confrontation between the President and the judge.
As the latest violence rocked Islamabad, Pervez Musharraf was outside the country, travelling to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. All of the major private news networks and newspapers in Pakistan were reporting that he had taken advantage of a neutral location to hold a secret meeting with his number one political opponent: the exiled former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. Pakistan government officials would not confirm the meeting. Journalist Munizae Jahangir says such a meeting would be unprecedented. But it reinforces the pressures Musharraf is under to deal with his growing problems.
Chief Justice Chaudhry had become a symbol for pro-democracy and anti-Musharraf forces since he was ousted from office on March 9 on charges of judicial misconduct and nepotism. Chaudhry opposes President General Musharraf’s efforts to run as president while maintaining control of the army. He has criss-crossed Pakistan, making campaign-style speeches against dictatorial rule. Last Tuesday, a suicide bomber attacked a rally he was to address at the Islamabad bar association. More than 15 people were killed. Today’s ruling by the 13-member Supreme Court reinstates Chaudhry and drops all charges against him. Musharraf has said he will accept the court’s decision. APTN recorded Chaudhry as he celebrated his victory at home with supporters, many of whom later marched in the streets shouting slogans including "Musharraf is a dog."
Chief Justice Chaudhry gave President Musharraf’s 1999 coup legitimacy by swearing allegiance to military rule when other judges refused. However in the last few years Chaudhry and Musharraf’s relationship fell apart after Chaudhry ruled against several key court cases that Musharraf supported. Chaudhry was expected to rule against General Musharraf’s right to run for president in the coming elections. He was charged with corruption and suspended by the President; an action recently ruled illegal by the Supreme Court. In this interview taped before the reinstatement, Munizae Jahangir analyses the current crisis. How vulnerable is Musharraf’s rule?
The White House considers President Musharraf one of their strongest partners in their fight against the Taliban, yet that very position is alienating Musharraf from many of his own people. He leads an army with deep historical ties to the Islamists and the Taliban. Munizae Jahangir explores the dynamics of Pakistan and the complicated relationship between the U.S and the President General.
"America is seen as arrogant. America is seen as a country that has bombed Pakistan without any consideration for the locals. America is seen as somebody who’s supporting President Musharraf, who’s becoming more and more unpopular in Pakistan."