President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on Saturday. It has now been announced at PTV. The emergency decision comes ahead of a crucial Supreme Court decision on whether to overturn his recent election win.
The news caster at PTV didn’t give any reasons for emergency but read the following text:
The chief of army staff has proclaimed a state of emergency and issued a provisional constitutional order.
Earlier, Pakistan’s private TV channels had suddenly gone off-air amid speculations that emergency was going to be imposed.
An earlier Reuters report which was among the first to break the news read:
Private television channels Geo News and Dawn News both ran reports quoting unnamed sources as saying the government had made its decision. Speculation has been rife that Musharraf, who is awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on whether he was eligible to run for re-election last month while still army chief, might impose emergency rule or martial law
This has not been the first time that government thought about imposing emergency. The idea has been flirted with from time to time. Rumors kept appearing from time to time from as early as August 8, 2007. We also had a post on this topic then.
According to CNN:
The Supreme Court has declared the state of emergency illegal, claiming Musharraf had no power to suspend the constitution, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry told CNN.
People were already sensing something was about to happen when Benazir suddenly left the country two days ago without even going to other provinces of the country except Sindh. It may be true that she indeed left Pakistan to be with her ailing mother but it never stops people from speculating. Also the earlier news where Government circles were advising Benazir not to come to Pakistan before Supreme Court decision now seem to put missing links to a continuum.
According to Washington Post news:
The United States had tried to pressure Musharraf on Friday to avoid declaring emergency rule or martial law. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday sent a warning to Musharraf not to take authoritarian measures to hold on to power. “I think it would be quite obvious that the United States would not be supportive of extra-constitutional means,” Rice said. “Pakistan needs to prepare for and hold free and fair elections.” That message was followed by a previously scheduled meeting between Musharraf and Adm. William J. Fallon, chief of the U.S. Central Command.
Complete text of emergency declaration can be read here