US-based Sindhis criticise emergency rule in Pakistan

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

President Pervez Musharraf, who took power in a bloodless 1999 coup, imposed emergency in the country on November 3 citing a hostile judiciary and rising militancy in the country.

Humaira Rahman, Director of the World Sindhi Institute, said that there has to be reinstitution of the constitution, freedom of association and the freedom of expression to move Pakistan forward.

“For the last 60 years, there hasn’t been true democracy in Pakistan and I think the people in Pakistan are getting very, very tired,” Rahman said at a gathering of the World Sindhi Institute at Washington to mark the organisation’s 10th anniversary, on Friday.

“The suspension of civil liberties, the clampdown on the electronic media, the arrests of lawyers and judges, it’s an abominable state of affairs,” Rahman added.

Sindhis constitute less than 10 per cent of Pakistan’s 140 million population.

Many of them critical of Musharraf have been demanding that he should step down and restore democratic rule in the country.

World Sindhi Institute President Zahid Makhdoom said no matter what the Pakistan people do, they will be irrelevant when matched with the military power.

“For a long time, all of these things were happening under this present regime. Those atrocities have just been heightened, have just been escalated. However, since 1947, Pakistani people have been suffering through those atrocities and it is only during some overt time like the one at hand, there is a heightening of oppression, there is a heightening of terror, the manner in which terror is unleashed on the people of Pakistan,” Makhdoom said.

On Thursday, Musharraf said elections would be held by February 15, about a month later than they were due.

He also said he would quit as army chief after the new judges appointed to the Supreme Court struck down challenges against his re-election as the President of the country.

Teresita Schaffer of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies said that the US is watching two things in Pakistan — terrorism front and its path back to democracy.

On the terrorism front, Schaffer said the early indications are not encouraging at all.

“It appears that the police and army are spending a lot of time chasing after political dissidents and not spending at least that time chasing after the terrorist problem,” she said.

“The second key thing for the United States is the path back to democracy and we really haven’t had much encouragement there except for general words that people hope for elections soon,” Schaffer added.

Doubtful of the elections in Pakistan, she said: “One has to ask, what sort of elections could Musharraf preside over, if he were to wind the emergency down?”

The White House called for Pakistan to end its state of emergency and urged all sides to refrain from violence as police barred opposition leader Benazir Bhutto from leaving her home in Islamabad for several hours.

Late on Friday, Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was freed from house arrest hours after she was stopped from leaving her Islamabad home to lead a rally against the imposition of emergency.

Bhutto has been holding power-sharing talks with Musharraf for months and political analysts say that cooperation between them is still possible despite Bhutto’s defiance. (ANI)

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