Emergency Declared in Pakistan
Observers in Pakistan and abroad were nearly all in agreement that President Musharraf’s declaration of emergency was really imposition of martial law designed to rescue his political power from sharply plummeting popularity and growing threats from his political opposition and the Supreme Court. This month’s issue features a collection of articles that discuss the factors leading to Musharraf’s decision, Pakistan’s prospects for elections and an eventual transition to democracy, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s role, and what the emergency state means for Pakistan’s relations with the U.S.
|In this Issue:
- Feature: Emergency Declared in Pakistan
- Carnegie Analysis and Events
Analysis: Musharraf's Nice Little Coup; Time’s Up: The U.S. Needs to Abandon Musharraf Today; Emergency in Pakistan
Events: Suicide Attacks in Afghanistan; Is India Arriving?; A Different View of China’s Anti-Satellite Test
- Views from South Asia:
Foreign and Domestic Politics
The Tehelka Expose; Karnataka’s Governance Crisis; Indo-Pak Relations; The U.S.-India Nuclear Deal; Bobby Jindal’s Election
Economics and Energy
The Skilled Labor Shortage; Doha; Development Challenges; The Return of Land Reform?
Benazir Bhutto’s Return; The Militant Victory in Swat; Slouching towards Democracy; Judicial Activism; The Standard of Living
The Two BNPs; Ongoing Reforms; War of Independence or Civil War?
Passing the Impasses; Bhutanese Refugees
• SRI LANKA
The War Continues; The Death of S.P. Thamilchelvan; Agriculture
- In-Depth Analysis
Pakistan’s turmoil continues to make headlines this month. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan was greeted by a procession of thousands of supporters before a suicide attack killed over 150 people. Responsibility for the attack had still not been established on November 3, when President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency over Pakistan. Musharraf defended his decision as a bid to save Pakistan from terrorists, but domestic and international observers agreed that the emergency was a thinly veiled effort to suppress his political opposition and an “activist” Supreme Court. Musharraf set January 15 as the date for parliamentary elections, but declined to announce when he would end the emergency or step down from his post as chief of armed services.
Two major domestic developments marked India this month. In Karnataka, the Hindutva Bharatiya Janata Party and the secular Janata Dal (Secular) reunited to form the third coalition government since elections in 2004. The reunification ended a brief stint of central rule, but the unsavory alliance of the two ideologically divergent parties ushered in a wave of cynicism.
Second, a report in Tehelka, an Indian weekly, released the results of a six month sting operation in Gujarat to provide new evidence of the government’s complicity, and in some cases active participation, in the communal violence that left over 2,000 people dead in 2002. Despite the report, Gujarat Chief Minister Naranda Modi heads into elections with a three percent lead over his Congress party challenger.
Editor, South Asian Perspectives
|Emergency Declared in Pakistan
Dawn writes that the road to democracy has been “obstructed,” but thinks that all may not be lost if the momentum leading up to the parliamentary elections (now allegedly set for February) can be maintained. (Dawn, November 5, 2007).
First, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz’s remarked that elections in Pakistan could be delayed by a year, and that the emergency would last “as long as it was utmost necessary.” Now, however, Musharraf has declared elections will take place on February 15. Dawn writes, “Let us assume and hope that nothing will make the president change his mind, no matter what happens — even if the Supreme Court rules against him in the case now pending with it on the dual office question.” (Dawn, November 9, 2007).
The restrictions on Pakistan’s media, which Musharraf once flaunted as “unprecedented in the history of Pakistan,” are deeply troubling, writes The Nation, “especially as the advances in information technology have rendered such restrictions counterproductive.” (The Nation, November 5, 2007).
An editorial in The News International casts former Primer Minister Benazir Bhutto in less than heroic terms. Her abandonment of the All-Parties Conference in August left Musharraf’s political opposition in disarray. She stood idly by as her political adversary Nawaz Sharif, was re-exiled to Saudi Arabia. And none of her party, the Pakistan Peoples Party, have been out on the streets protesting the emergency. But the editors offer some hope, however qualified, about Bhutto’s announcement of the protest at Rawalpindi, the headquarters of the army, on Friday, November 9: “Her latest aggressive posture can still force the dictator's hand to return the country to sanity and stability. But this can come about only if such a stand were sincere and made in all honesty and not as a pretext to gain more concessions for herself and her party,” they write. (The News, November 8, 2007).
Musharraf’s dedication to confronting extremism is a poor justification for the declaration of emergency, especially given his weak counter-terrorism record, The Frontier Post contends. The government’s response to the Lal Masjid crisis in July was belated, and now militant forces, “are not only giving a tough fight to the security forces, kidnapping their personnel and, in cases, horrifically decapitating their captives, they are also wrenching away more of the territories from the government's control.” (The Frontier Post, November 5, 2007).
“The Bush administration’s hopes that with its help there could be a transition to democracy in Pakistan with a continuing role for Musharraf have been dashed,” writes Hussain Huqani. For Congress and the American public, the list of reasons for supporting Musharraf keeps getting shorter. The U.S. is “uneasy about supporting an unpopular military dictator whose record in fighting terror is, at best, mixed.” (The Indian Express, November 5, 2007).
Syed Sharfuddin has no illusions about why Pervez Musharraf declared emergency on November 3. “Of the 13 reasons cited in the proclamation, nine lay blame on the judiciary, two on terrorist activities and one each on the inability of the government and the Constitution to address the current situation,” he writes. Further, the cost of the emergency is daunting: “During emergency, extremists can go underground and quietly recruit supporters. The cost of mounting a security intelligence operation as well as keeping the law and order situation in control would obviously take its toll on development projects. Any further decline in living standards will cause the public to go short on patience.” (Dawn, November 8, 2007).
Ijjaz Hussain describes the triple-damage done by the declaration of emergency—the squashing of the judiciary, the restrictions on the media, and the set-back to Pakistan’s anti-corruption drive. (The Daily Star, November 7, 2007).
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U.S. Support of Musharraf: At What Cost?
In attempting to hold on to power at any cost, President Musharraf has alienated Pakistanis and precipitated a political crisis that could reverberate throughout the region. Carnegie’s Frederic Grare argues in a new web commentary that “Musharraf staged a coup in order to retain his own personal power over Pakistan. And by helping him do so, the United States is pursuing a policy that could undermine Pakistan’s cooperation in the war on terror.”
Related Carnegie expert commentary and analysis:
• Time's Up: The U.S. Needs to Abandon Musharraf Today
• Emergency Rule in Pakistan
• Rethinking Western Strategies Toward Pakistan
• Musharraf in the Twilight
• Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations in the Post-9/11 Era
• Islam, Militarism, and the 2007–2008 Elections in Pakistan
• Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military
Suicide Attacks in Afghanistan
Before the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud on September 9, 2001, suicide attacks were considered alien to Afghanistan. They began to appear with regularity in 2005 and 2006 and are now commonplace. Christine Fair, former UNAMA political affairs officer, discusses her UNAMA report on the challenges of combating these attacks.
Is India Arriving
Rafiq Dossani, of the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center of Stanford University, spoke about the dual sides of modern India, citing both India's "arrival" as a global power in terms of economic growth and international prestige, and the areas in which it still lacks: the non-market sector, widespread poverty, and social democracy. Despite these shortcomings, he is optimistic about changes in domestic politics which have made the government more responsive to the people and encouraged reform. This event was held on November 13. Click here to read more about Rafiq Dossani’s talk, as well as his new book India Arriving.
A Different View of China’s Anti-Satellite Test
On November 13, in a joint presentation at the Carnegie Endowment, Gregory Kulacki and Jeffrey Lewis argued that common views of China's anti-satellite test are flawed because they are based on limited information from unreliable sources. In addition, these views treat China as a unified and rational decision maker instead of as the complex bureaucracy it is. Failing to acknowledge these facts leads to a false analysis of the situation.
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|Views from South Asia
INDIA - Foreign and Domestic Politics
The Tehelka Expose
In October, Tehelka, an Indian weekly, released the results of Ashish Khetan’s six-month investigation into the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. The violence began when a mob of Muslims lit on fire a train carrying Hindu pilgrims home to Gujarat. 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the ensuing violence.
At the time, Gujarat’s Chief Minister, Naranda Modi, political star of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said “This is not a mere communal event but a one-sided collective terrorist attack by one community,” and implied that the violence had been premeditated, a claim supported by police investigations.
Khetan’s account is about as damning as it could be. The violence in the train station was spontaneous, not planned, Khetan finds. Muslim tea vendors who keep shop at the train station were tortured until they agreed to give accounts that corroborated Modi’s conspiratorial version of events. BJP leaders were instrumental in leading Hindu attacks against Muslims. Chief Minister Modi ordered the police not to restrain violence against Muslims, and endorsed the subsequent cover-up. Many of these charges have been heard before, but Khetan’s primary sources are the personal accounts of 14 men who took part in the conspiracy. (Tehelka, November 3, 2007).
Despite the severity of these charges, Naranda Modi’s BJP leads the Congress Party by three percent in the polls for the upcoming election. Sheela Bhatt worries that the Tehelka expose “will help the BJP and Modi because it may polarise Hindu votes.” (Rediff.com, October 26, 2007).
But Praful Bidwai believes the Congress can still mobilize enough support to win the elections. Modi’s lead in the polls, which was as high as ten percent in 2002, has been significantly eroded, and significant factions of the BJP have become dissatisfied with Modi’s incompetence. (Frontline, November 3-16, 2007).
Karnataka’s Governance Crisis
Last month, the Karnakata’s coalition government fell apart after Janata Dal Secular (JDS) party national President Deve Gowda refused to transfer power to the BJP. But now, the JDS and the BJP are back together, forming the third coalition government since the elections in 2004. The debacle has eroded the government’s credibility, argues Parvathi Menon. (Frontline, November 3-16, 2007).
With the Bharatiya Janata Party -Janata Dal (Secular) coalition solidified, Central rule must come to an end, urges the Hindu. Yes, the marriage is one of convenience and opportunism, but “neither the shifting stands of political parties nor charges of horse trading, deals, and allurements can be a ground for dissolving an Assembly if a government can be formed.” (The Hindu, November 9, 2007).
India and Pakistan’s terrorism cooperation talks have been hampered by mutual suspicion and differing objectives—Pakistan wants to investigate the role of its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in sponsoring terrorism, while India wants help rounding up the suspects it thinks are responsible for the bombings in Hyderabad and elsewhere. (The Hindu, October 25, 2007).
Pakistan has been forced to combat terrorism aggressively in the western part of the country, but its counter-terror operations in the east have been half-hearted, argues Praveen Swami. “While direct ISI funding of groups such as the Jaish and the Lashkar has been terminated, and their training bases shut down or relocated, Pakistan has avoided dismantling their infrastructure.” The ISI’s reluctance to remove terrorists in the East remains a major obstacle to India-Pakistan cooperation. (The Hindu, October 20, 2007).
In the late 1980s extremists from the Indian side of the line of control crossed over to Pakistan occupied Kashmir for training. Now, many of them are disillusioned with the stark economic conditions, and wish to return home. “The Prime Minister’s recent offer to rehabilitate all those who returned to India is welcome,” writes the Hindustan Times. (The Hindustan Times, October 22, 2007).
The U.S.-India Nuclear Deal
C. Raja Mohan reports another fallout from the stalling of the U.S.-India nuclear deal: “The Chinese would surely judge that a Congress leadership that is incapable of doing the nuclear deal with Washington has little credibility as an interlocutor on the boundary dispute with Beijing.” (The Indian Express, October 24, 2007).
Bobby Jindal’s Election
When Republican candidate Bobby Jinda won Louisiana’s governorship this month, he became not only the first ever Indian-American governor, but also the youngest governor in U.S. history. The National Federation of Indian-American Associations expressed its happiness: “It is a great moment in the history of America when someone who looks like us becomes the Governor of Louisiana. We should all be dancing in the streets to display our pride."
Pramit Pal Chaudhuri describes the meteoric rise of Jindal, a conservative Christian who’s remained an unwavering supporter of the Iraq war. “Jindal’s was an uncompromising message of change, of ridding Louisiana of its bad old ways, of reversing the state’s brain drain,” he writes. (The Hindustan Times, October 27, 2007).
But the press wasn’t all glowing. Vijay Prashad notes some of Jindal’s racially loaded statements, and writes, “Jindal’s heavy-handed code sent a strong message to the racist vote that he could be trusted not to “pander” to the black population.” So much for dancing in the streets. (Frontline, November 3-16, 2007).
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INDIA - Economics and Energy
The Skilled Labor Shortage
The next big factor inhibiting India’s growth isn’t capital or infrastructure, writes the Financial Express’s editorial board—its skilled labor. Employers have complained that new hires coming from Industrial Training Institutes don’t meet expectations, and the government has done little to realign educational institutions with market realities. (Financial Express, November 6, 2007).
Indian negotiators have said that there may be some progress in the Doha round—developed countries have tentatively agreed to substantially cut subsidies to agricultural products. (The Hindu, November 3, 2007).
P. Sainath notices what his colleagues in the media have not—the fact that India ranked lower than Ethiopia in the Global Hunger Index. But the story was buried under the news of how the Sensex is doing. Sainath questions which number is the best indicator of progress. (The Hindu, October 26, 2007).
The Hindu applauds a new World Development Report both for urging industrialized nations to give up their agricultural subsidies, and for emphasizing the need for active investment in rural infrastructure, which has been neglected in India for the past 30 years. (The Hindu, October 27, 2007).
The Return of Land Reform?
Over 25,000 people participated in the march from Madhya Pradesh to New Delhi to demand progressive land reforms. Organizers deftly managed to obtain political support not only from the Left parties, but also from prominent officials in the Congress. “This may go down as the year when land reforms were finally put back on the nation’s policy agenda,” writes Jayati Ghosh. (Frontline, November 3-16, 2007).
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Benazir Bhutto’s Return
Bhutto’s arrival in Pakistan was met with celebration, as thousands swarmed to welcome the former Prime Minister home after years in exile. The celebration was cut short when a suicide bomber killed over 140 people attending the parade. “The incident is yet another evidence of the threat of extremism to civil society and the democratic process,” writes Hasan Askari-Rizvi. He acknowledges that the terrorism plaguing Pakistan is a threat to the development of democracy—but Musharraf’s regime has demonstrated its incapacity to tackle the issue, in part because of it’s inability to garner widespread support. (The Daily Times, October 21, 2007).
The News International concurred that Musharraf’s handling of militancy has only made the situation worse: “This crisis has been exacerbated with the immature handling of rising militancy…General Musharraf’s regime has focused only on the administrative side of the things, as has been the pattern of all non-political regimes. In the process, more people have been alienated than the security forces have managed to eliminate.” Democratic reforms are needed to combat terrorism at the root. (The News International, October 22, 2007).
An editorial in Dawn urged Pakistani authorities to allow an independent inquiry into the suicide attack to dispel suspicions of a government endorsed conspiracy. They write, “It could well be that a wholly impartial and professional investigation is already in progress, conducted by qualified officials dedicated to bringing the culprits to book. The point is, there is no way of knowing for sure and any confidence-building concessions in these emotionally charged times cannot possibly go amiss.” (Dawn, October 23, 2007).
The Militant Victory in Swat
The cleric Mullah Fazlullah secured another town in Swat, Pakistan, when Pakistani soldiers laid down their arms, in one of a series of victories by militants. “The war in the Tribal Areas could actually be the battle for Pakistan itself,” warns an editorial. “It could be a battle against the creation of an Al Qaeda state within Pakistan.” But the solution does not lie in the imposition of martial law. “In fact the state of Emergency is going to be the biggest hurdle in tackling the Al Qaeda challenge,” they write. (The Daily Times, November 8, 2007).
Why would soldiers surrender to militants in such large numbers? Abbas Rashid has a guess: “There is a widespread perception that Pakistan is fighting America’s war in its tribal areas. What is happening across the border and the presence NATO forces in Afghanistan help strengthen this view. Many of those fighting the militants in the tribal areas may well share the perception.” (The Daily Times, November 3, 2007).
Slouching towards Democracy
Dawn opposes the ban on political rallies, seeing it only as a tool to aid the Musharraf-backed PML-Q. “ If the Pakistan People’s Party and Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N — the two genuinely popular parties that have been deliberately sidelined since 1999 — are allowed to mobilize their supporters without let or hindrance, the ground beneath the PML-Q’s feet will be even shakier than it already is.” (Dawn, October 21, 2007).
Political parties in Balochistan have begun preparations for elections—but the youth are radicalized, and reject parliamentary politics, writes Jamil Ahmed. (Dawn, October 29, 2007).
Unlike many observers of Pakistan, Ahmed Syed was not disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss the petitions challenging the legality of Musharraf’s re-election. “Courts are not put in place to cater to public opinion… are to say what the law is and apply it, regardless of its ranking in terms of virtue or efficacy, in settling the issues that have come before them.” (Dawn, October 14, 2007).
The Standard of Living
A recent Asian Development Bank report put Pakistan lower than India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh on host of key standard-of-living indicators, including school enrolment, adult literacy, and infant and child mortality. Dawn attributes the lack of progress in these areas to Pakistan’s defunct civil society: “Both India and Bangladesh are lucky to have vibrant civil societies that do not shy away from pressing their case for better services or protesting against injustices,” but Pakistan, they write, does not. (Dawn, November 8, 2007).
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The Two BNPs
After Bangladesh National Party (BNP) chairperson Khaleda Zia was imprisoned for corruption charges on September 3, she fired her secretary general Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan and replaced him with Khandaker Delwar Hossain. Bhuiyan insisted on keeping his job, which led to a split in the BNP, with Bhuiyan at the helm. Subsequently, the new “reformist” faction named Saifur Rahman as acting chairperson, and Major Hafizuddin Ahmed the party’s secretary-general.
Meanwhile, on November 3, Election Commission sent out letters to the fourteen political parties included in the dialog leading up the elections scheduled thirteen months from now, and it will be Hafizuddin’s reformist faction that receives a letter, not Hossian’s original BNP.
The Election Commission’s decision has raised criticism because the original BNP had originally refused to participate in the election dialog as long as chairperson Zia remains in prison. NM Harun offers an excellent overview of the situation. (The New Age, November 4, 2007).
The Election Commission’s decision to invite Hafizuddin’s reformist faction of the BNP came as no shock to some Bangladeshi bloggers; “Given the [caretaker government]-engineered coup of BNP, it is no surprise that the Saifur-faction was invited,” writes Shada Kalo. (Shada Kalo, November 5, 2007).
On November 1, the caretaker government made good on its promise to make the judiciary branch autonomous from the executive. The Daily Star thinks it a promising sign that the interim government kept its promise and made Bangladesh’s judiciary branch formally independent by the November 1 deadline. But the judiciary’s independence, “has to be complemented by reforms in the police, courts and the legal profession.” (The Daily Star, November 3, 2007).
And on October 24, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) circulated a letter proposing that it be made a self-governing body, arguing that “an unfettered ACC will be a guarantee of disciplined, responsible behavior in politics and other areas of social activity.” (The Daily Star, November 2, 2007).
War of Independence or Civil War?
Leaders of Jamaat-E-Islami, a Bangladeshi Islamic political party that supported Pakistan during the 1971 war, earned condemnation for making a series of controversial claims. Jamaat officials denied that their organization worked against Bangladesh’s independence, and insisted that no war criminals currently reside in Bangladesh. The statements were denounced by the Awami League, which called for the ban on all religious political parties, enacted in 1972, be enforced and Jamaat shut down. The New Age agreed, and pressed for the prosecution of war criminals. (The New Age, November 8, 2007).
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Passing the Impasse
It’s a sign of how fast things are moving in Nepal. Just a few days ago, an editorial lamented what seemed like a political impasse—the Maoists remained firm in their demands for proportional representation and a declaration of Nepal as a republic before they would consent to elections. (The Nepali Times, November 2, 2007).
But a compromise was forged—the Maoists and the UML together supported a resolution establishing proportional representation, and the Maoists conceded on their declaration of republic. S. Chandrasekharan worries, however, worries that “The UML has put its head into the Lion’s jaws.” It would have been better if the UML had made amends with the other democratic parties. (SAAG Note 412, November 6, 2007).
On a recent trip to Nepal, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Ellen Sauerbery said that the U.S. was willing to resettle about half of the refugees from Bhutan currently living in Nepal. But such a policy “might encourage the Thimpu government to continue its policy of ethnic cleansing,” notes an editorial. (The Rising Nepal, November 6, 2007).
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The War Continues
An LTTE raid on a Sri Lankan military base left fourteen soldiers dead and four army helicopters destroyed. And the successful utilization of the LTTE’s fledgling air force demonstrated “continuing weaknesses in Sri Lanka’s intelligence machinery and in the capability of the armed forces,” writes The Hindu. (The Hindu, November 24, 2007).
The Death of S.P. Thamilchelvan
S.P. Thamilchelvan, a leader of the LTTE’s negotiation team, was killed. Tamil National Alliance officials reported he was targeted in an air raid, and warned, “We shudder at the repercussions for peace of this act by the Sri Lanka government." (Tamilnet, November 2, 2007).
An editorial in the Daily Mirror calls for major changes to the nation’s agriculture policy. The intensive use of pesticides and fertilizers, which contribute significantly to land and water pollution, must be curtailed. And genetically modified non-germinating seeds need to be phased out to end farmers’ dependence on transnational corporations. (The Daily Mirror, November 7, 2007).
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|• “Pakistan’s Meltdown Under Musharraf: Strategic Implications for the United States,” Subhash Kapila, SAAG Paper 2450, November 8, 2007.
• “Peace process in Nepal put on backburner,” Observer Research Foundation, November 1, 2007.
• “Pakistan Corps Commander Oppose Deal with Benazir,” B. Raman, SAAG Paper 2454, November 13, 2007.
• “Two Presidents and their War on Terror: Democracy in the Dungeons of Pakistan,” Bhaskar Roy, SAAG Paper 2453, November 12, 2007.
• “Will Karnataka see 3rd coalition government?” M. Siddaraju, Rediff India, October 14, 2007.
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Sam McCormally, junior fellow, South Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment
Kathleen Donaldson, program assistant, South Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
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