News Release

Pakistan Coup and U.S. Policy


The New York Times is reporting today: “The Bush administration signaled Sunday that it would probably keep billions of dollars flowing to Pakistan’s military, despite the detention of human rights advocates and leaders of the political opposition by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the country’s president.”

Ahmad has written extensively on South Asia. Currently senior news analyst for The Real News Network, he recently interviewed Asma Jahangir, chair of the Human Rights Commission in Pakistan, in a segment titled “Democracy or martial law in Pakistan?” (AP is reporting that Jahangir is among those who were just detained.) Video is available.
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Mian is a physicist with the Program on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus. He wrote a recent piece titled “Pakistan Needs Real Democratic Government” published by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He said today: “In a desperate bid to stay in power, General Musharraf has staged a coup against the rule of law. His declaration of martial law and suspension of the constitution and of basic rights are aimed at overthrowing Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which was likely to rule that Musharraf could not continue as both President and Chief of the Army. The Supreme Court was the only branch of government Musharraf and the army did not control. …

“Since September 11, 2001, the United States has given enormous political and diplomatic support and over $10 billion to Pakistan to buy General Musharraf’s support for its ‘war on terror.’ This has served to strengthen Mushharaf’s position and that of Pakistan’s army. It has done practically nothing for Pakistan’s people, who have been demanding a return of democracy and free and fair elections.

“[The U.S. government’s] response to Musharraf’s second coup shows that when it comes to the crunch, rather than a principled commitment to democracy that would meet the aspirations of Pakistan’s people, the U.S. has again chosen the general it knows, and his shopworn promises of stability and order.”
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Professor of political science at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, Ahmad is currently a visiting faculty member at the International Islamic University in Islamabad. He said today: “One of the major concerns here in Pakistan is if this will stop the elections. Another major concern is the possibility of a counter-coup and what would happen to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.”

Nayyar is a physicist, retired from Quaid-i-Azam University, in Islamabad. He is currently the executive director of Developments in Literacy, an organization of Pakistani Americans that engages in philanthropic intervention in education for the poor.

He said today: “Musharraf’s regime has always been [that of] martial law [since the 1999 coup]. What else can it be called if it is headed by a chief of army staff … [with a] nominated prime minister and chief ministers? Musharraf wanted to give it a facade of civilian rule, and could not go on doing it.

“The facade has come down crashing. The facade had been a great help for him in securing money from the U.S. Will that money now stop? … What options does Musharraf have if the U.S. administration re-imposes stringent sanctions on account of the emergency? Hardly any. He has to continue taking action against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, or else NATO forces will … take open action against them from across the border, openly violating Pakistan’s sovereignty. This will be a huge loss of face for Musharraf, both internationally as well as internally. I think the U.S. can force Musharraf to restore constitutional government.”

Co-editor of the book Power and Civil Society in Pakistan and professor of international studies at the University of Oregon, Weissis currently in Islamabad. She said today: “While terrorism and suicide bombings had reached unprecedented levels in Pakistan, it is clear that this military action has NOT been taken because of this. Pervez Musharraf had declared he would ‘remove his uniform’ — leave the military — once his election as President was assured. The Supreme Court verdict was due any day. However, now the Chief Justice has been suspended and judges throughout the country are being asked to take loyalty oaths to the military government; to their credit, most are refusing to do so.

“On the ground, hundreds of people have been arrested and put into ‘preventive detention,’ in expectation that they might cause problems for the government forces. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz is quoted as saying elections, due in January, may be postponed for a year. Political engagement with civil society has been slammed shut.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.