Emergency declaration angers Pak people from all walks of life

November 14th, 2007 - 10:23 am ICT by admin  

According to the International Herald Tribune, people from all walks of life– rich and poor, professionals and labourers, members of the security forces and civilians– in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, have overwhelmingly opposed Musharraf’s emergency decree.

In interviews in the last three days, they ejected it as a naked attempt by Musharraf to bolster his fading powers.

“People are not fools,” said Muhammad Saleem, 35, a phone shop clerk in a wealthy section of Islamabad, the capital, adding, “They do understand it’s not to stop militancy.”

They said that the decree had reduced Musharraf’s already low popularity. “If I stood for election here, I would win more seats than Musharraf,” Jehangir Ahmed, a welder from Rawalpindi, was quoted as saying.

Some expressed willingness to join protests against Musharraf, while others cited fears of being jailed indefinitely and leaving their families without a breadwinner for weeks, months or even years, as the reasons for their reluctance to participate in a protest.

Most of the people expressed concern about the economy, as they are already beset by spiraling prices. The mix of views outside the Lucky garage on the outskirts of Rawalpindi on Thursday night was typical.

Of seven young men, six criticized Musharraf’s declaration.

Muhammad Imran, a 24-year-old with a fifth-grade education who managed the garage, said the emergency had worsened the most important reality of his life: poverty. He was unaware and unconcerned about democracy, but wanted more customers. “We lose every day,” he said angrily. “People won’t come here.”

Of the 30 interviewed, only two supported the emergency declaration.

One was Ghulam Murtaza, 24, a tailor in Islamabad, who said, “He’s done the right thing,” adding, “There would have been a bomb blast.”

While most of the people called for a return of democratic rule, saying it would provide better services and that it was the best way to marginalize religious militants, others, especially the poor, expressed deep cynicism about the prospect for change after decades of disappointment with political and military leaders.

“Whoever comes and rules, it won’t affect us,” said Muhammad Nawaz, 51, a street vendor. “No party gives us anything. Nobody cares about poor people.”

Thirty-year-old Yasir Mehmood, the owner of a cellphone shop in Islamabad, called the failure of democracy the country’s “biggest tragedy.” While he agreed that civilian politicians were corrupt, he said that was preferable to martial law. (ANI)

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