Geo Blocked. Sherry Resigns. Hundreds Arrested. Crackdown on Long March. Efforts to Cool Tensions Heat Up. Uncertainty Rules.

Posted on March 13, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Politics, Society
67 Comments
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Adil Najam

Much, too much, is afoot in Pakistan. Talk is rife of changes: in the President’s stance; in the Prime Minister’s tone; in the  President himself; in the international response; in the Military’s preferences; even, maybe, in the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Change seems to be afoot. It is not clear what. But it is clear that whatever it is will leave much, too much, still in limbo. There is no one that anyone seems to have much confidence in.

The media is being gagged again. Civil society forces remain defiant as ever in the face of increasing crackdowns. The politicians fail to inspire confidence. And the military and international actors remain kingmakers. The dominant sense one gets is of a country that is afraid of its own politics. Very very afraid.

The litany of breaking news tells the story (all from the homepage of The News today):

GEO News blocked in different cities of country. The transmission of Geo News has been blocked in some parts of Karachi, Hyderabad, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Quetta, Multan, Rawlakot, Muzaffarabad, Deepalpur and Sargodha. The concerned officials have directed the cable operators to place Geo News channel at the tail end, making it difficult for the viewers to watch the channel. PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif, Tehreek-i-Insaf Chief Imran khan and Senator Babar Ghauri condemned the blocking of Geo News.

Lawyers to intensify campaign. The lawyers challenging the government will step up their cross-country protest campaign despite beatings and arrests by the police, the President of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Ali Ahmed Kurd said on Friday. Black-suited lawyers and flag-waving opposition activists launched the long march protest in the cities of Karachi and Quetta on Thursday, despite a ban on rallies and the detention of hundreds of activists. Baton-wielding police clashed with protesters in Karachi and arrested several of their leaders as they tried to stop a convoy of cars and buses leaving the city.

Containers placed around Pindi, Islamabad to block marchers. Several containers were placed at all entry points of twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad in an attempt to thwart the lawyers’ long march. In Rawalpindi, containers were placed near Faizabad Fly over. Besides, several containers were lined up near Kashmir Highway, Parliament House and all other entry points of the federal capital. More containers, dumpers and trucks are likely to be brought there to block the marchers from entering twin cities.

U.S. Ambassador calls on PM: U.S. Ambassador to Islamabad Anne W. Patterson called on Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani here on Friday. According to sources, country’s prevailing political situation in view of the long march was discussed in the meeting.

Miliband telephones Nawaz. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has called Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Mian Nawaz Sharif on Friday and discussed with him the overall political situation. According to sources, country’s prevailing political situation in the wake of long march came under discussion.

Zardari agrees to resolve crisis in light of CoD. In response to the reconciliatory efforts of Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, President Asif Ali Zardari has agreed to resolve prevailing political crisis according to the charter of democracy (CoD). According to sources, Army chief’s meetings with the President and the Prime Minister are producing results. Gen. Kayani held separate meetings with President Zardari and Premier Gilani to discuss various options for solution of prevailing political crisis confronting the country. Sources further told that Prime Minster was in favour of restoration of deposed chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. However, the president’s close aides said that President Zardari wants his restoration through CoD. The President is willing to lift governor rule in Punjab while besides Army chief, British and American governments are playing the role of guarantors. President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani are expected to meet again tonight in which some important decisions are expected.

We have been here before. Too many time. Too painfully.

67 responses to “Geo Blocked. Sherry Resigns. Hundreds Arrested. Crackdown on Long March. Efforts to Cool Tensions Heat Up. Uncertainty Rules.”

  1. PakWatcher says:

    @Bloody Civilian,
    there is a reason why I ordered the list, as I did. So I don’t disagree with you.

  2. Pakistani says:

    @bonobashi
    I am all for a country that makes their own choices and free democratic elections. But but but……when you have a leadership of majority parties that are roaring false promises to their voters every day, corrupted from top down, then you have a huge population that is not protected, life and property is in jeopardy, democracy in Pakistan failed for today, yesterday and for many years. A free democratic nation doesn’t happen on its own, it takes years of preparation……..that means we need to rebuild our government system and its infrastructure within a peaceful society that nurtures growth of an individual and country. And this is obviously not possible via elected government of today. We had two very different versions of military rule since Bhutto, Zia who took us to dark ages, installed mullah rule, manipulated and sold the country several times. Then Musharraf military tried the hybrid of military and freedom to the individual policy which at least worked for first four years and Pakistan infrastructure got its footings, there we had a chance to rise for a day. So you tell me what is the best option for Pakistan, give our future to thugs of today? or have some discipline and accountability, perhaps we will be ready for democracy one day.

  3. bonobashi says:

    @Pakistani

    As a friendly observer, I believe that you have things exactly back to front.

    Until Pakistani civil society – and the Pakistani military – give up assuming that the military is the glue apparently holding the country together, the political infrastructure will never grow, and, in your words, your political foundations will remain weak, your leaders will continue to stray from honesty and you will apparently not be ready for democracy.

    I respectfully submit that the reverse is the case. If you give up depending on the military to arbitrate, and to restore order in a situation where all sides know that whatever the silly decisions they take, there is always a nanny to step in and sort things out, you will find that a foundation will develop, political infrastructure will gradually coalesce around a few commonly accepted rules and processes, leaders on being voted out by an unforgiving electorate that knows elections will happen, and will happen on time, with no dishonesty with respect to the results, will become honest and you will find that you do not have to prepare to be ready for democracy – you will look around one fine day and find that you are democratic.

    I could give you examples, but it is sure that a membership as sophisticated as the membership of this forum has already worked out what I am driving at. As our Latinate commentator would no doubt have liked to have said, verb. sap.

  4. FYSAL says:

    Pakistan Kahan ja rha hai… Allah he bachae hum ko in hukamranooon se…. Pakistan k 2 satoon to kat diye inhon ne.. Adliya aur media…
    So sad
    /….
    http://www.PTVp.blogspot.com

  5. Bloody Civilian says:

    PakWather: Please name me a significant Pak politician not created by Pak Army. Or not under threat – at one time or another – from NAB and such. ZAB was the leading light of Ayub Khan’s King’s Party – the Convention Muslim League. No one has forgotten NS’s shameful origins under Zia. BB did not have the same origins as her father. But the military and its US sponsors left her with little option but to return under a ‘deal’, offering her the NRO. Zardari is no politician. He is where he is on the basis of a will that no one has ever seen, and stepped in to play the role as agreed per the ‘deal’ as BB’s successor. Wanna reconsider your already short list?

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