Update 5:00pm 11/5 Eastern. Vid from BP and an observation:
When a US ally declares a state of emergency at least in part to deal with a real existential threat (and a judicial threat to his own power, to be sure), we all go ballistic and the Democrats seem to be out in front and the State Department gears up to bring a hammer down on him. But when a US enemy like Hugo Chavez who has allied himself with other US enemies like Iran gets his rubber-stamp legislature to grant him dictatorial powers, and he has been ramping up the anti-US rhetoric for years, just about the only place you’ll find much discussion of that is on the right. We may be sending the dangerous message that we’re tougher on our allies than on our enemies. That strikes me as unwise.
Update 3:15pm 11/5 Eastern. President Bush speaks…
President Bush on Monday exhorted Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to hold elections and relinquish his army post “as soon as possible.” He said he instructed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to deliver that message in a telephone call with Musharraf.
Bush made his comments in the Oval Office of the White House after a meeting with Turkey’s visiting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It was Bush’s first public comment on the political crisis in Pakistan since Musharraf imposed a state of emergency over the weekend.
Bush would not discuss what action he might take—for example, how much U.S. aid to Pakistan would be cut—if Musharraf ignores his request.
“It’s a hypothetical,” he said. “I certainly hope he does take my advice.”
Update 11/5 3:00pm Eastern. Pakistan’s PM says elections will proceed:
Pakistan’s prime minister says national elections will be held as scheduled, despite President Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of emergency rule.
Elections are due by mid-January, but there were fears they might be abandoned because of the crisis.
Update 11/5 12:40pm Eastern. PJM correspondent Ghaila Aymen reports from inside Pakistan.
Update 11/5 11:15am Eastern. President Bush will address the Pakistan situation at around 1:15pm Eastern today at a press conference after meeting with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The White House comments…
President Bush’s top national security aides say U.S. financial backing for Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts likely will go uninterrupted despite the administration’s unhappiness with President Pervev Musharraf’s declaration of a state of emergency. The White House said Bush would comment Monday on the crisis. “The best option is for Pakistan to get back on its path to democracy,” press secretary Dana Perino told reporters, echoing statements that administration officials had made throughout the weekend.
Update 11/5 8:40apm Eastern. Pakistan denies rumours Musharraf under house arrest.
Update 11/5 8:20am Eastern. Over 1,500 held.
It’s deja vu all over again (via Dawn):
Across Pakistan, police arrested political activists and lawyers at the forefront of a campaign against military rule.
Among those detained were Javed Hashmi, the acting president of the party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; Asma Jehangir, chairman of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan; and Hamid Gul, former chief of the country’s main intelligence agency and a staunch critic of Musharraf’s support of the U.S.-led war on terror.
“It’s a big blow to the country,” said Gul, as a dozen officers took him away in a police van near the parliament in the capital, Islamabad. Hashmi said the army general would not “not survive the people’s outrage.”
Up to 40 activists were hauled in when police raided the office of the Human Right Commission of Pakistan, including its director, I.A. Rahman, a harsh Musharraf critic, said Mohammed Yousaf, a guard at the office in the eastern city of Lahore.
The White House response:
The White House called emergency rule “very disappointing.”
“President Musharraf needs to stand by his pledges to have free and fair elections in January and step down as chief of army staff before retaking the presidential oath of office,” spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
The United States however said there was no plan to suspend military aid to Pakistan.
China, one of Pakistan’s closest allies, expressed concern and said it hoped stability could be maintained. Pakistan’s neighbour and nuclear rival India expressed “regrets”.
More than $10 billion in US aid, mostly to Pakistan’s military, since 2001.
In a televised speech last night, Musharraf tried to liken himself to Abe Lincoln during the Civil War. Benazir Bhutto wasn’t having it:
“I request you all to bear with us,” he said. “Please don’t demand and expect your level of human rights and democracy you learnt over the centuries. Please give us time.”
In a reference which will anger his American allies, he compared himself to Abraham Lincoln, citing the latter’s suspension of habeas corpus and other fundamental rights during the American civil war to save his nation.
“Abraham Lincoln usurped rights to preserve the union, and Pakistan comes first. Whatever I do is for Pakistan, and whatever anyone else thinks is secondary,” he warned.
However, Bhutto insisted: “He says that he is acting for the good of Pakistan but he is acting for the good of General Musharraf.”
Jeffrey Imm at the Counterterrorism Blog has the best, link-filled rundown and analysis of the situation. I’ll leave you with his conclusion:
While the US State Department and US military have objected to Musharraf’s emergency declaration, the Taliban continue their efforts of enforcing Islamism throughout Pakistan unchecked. On Friday, a bomb blast destroyed 14 shops in Peshawar market selling selling CDs, TV sets and music albums. Bombing of non-Islamist businesses and threatening the lives of non-Muslims if they do not cover to Islam is becoming a relatively routine occurrence in Swat and other parts of the NWFP in Pakistan.
The failure of American leadership to have a policy on Islamism has prevented the ability to provide a pro-active coherent policy in Pakistan that addresses both the strategic issues of pro-Islamist Pakistani public sentiment along with support in areas of the government and public for the Taliban, as well as the tactical issues of fighting “extremists” in Afghanistan who have found safe haven in NWFP in Pakistan.
While U.S. Admiral William J. Fallon has told Pakistan President Musharraf that an emergency rule order would risk U.S. support to his military, the U.S. military support to Pakistan has limited long-term impact without addressing the Islamist public opinion and support in Pakistan for the Taliban and other Islamist organizations. The current situation in Pakistan illustrates the train wreck of pursuing tactical operations in fighting “extremists” without a strategy to clearly define the enemy and to define a U.S. policy on Jihad and Islamism.