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Solidarity with the Pakistani people

November 19, 2011

By Tim Dobson

Resistance stands in solidarity with the Pakistani people fighting for democracy and the removal of the Musharraf regime. Thousands of people have defied the ban on demonstrations to protest against “emergency rule” and the dictatorial regime.

With a nationwide lawyer strike occurring on November 4, these protests reflect the widespread feeling throughout Pakistan that President Pervez Musharraf has to step down and democracy must be restored immediately. The August 13 edition of The Dawn, a leading Pakistani newspaper, reported on a poll showing that 65.2% of Pakistanis want Musharraf to step down, and his latest moves have made him even more unpopular.

We condemn the November 3 move by Musharraf to declare a “state of emergency” and announce the immediate suspension of the Pakistani constitution. Since then, Musharraf has taken all non-government television channels off the air, jammed all mobile phone networks, and appointed “monitors” to scan all news media for any anti-government material.

Resistance calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Pakistan. Since the “state of emergency” was declared, more than 3500 people have been arrested; some now face the death penalty for “treason”. Their only crime has been to oppose Musharraf’s dictatorship and his latest moves to impose martial law.

Since 1999, Musharraf has ruled the country as a military dictator. He appointed himself president in 2000 and ordered that all judges must take an oath of office swearing allegiance to military rule. All subsequent elections have been undemocratic, rigged and widely boycotted. All promises made by Musharraf to step down from his role of army chief of staff have been broken.

Musharraf announced in March that he intends to serve another five years as president. Musharraf decided to call this state of emergency now to prevent the supreme court from making a decision that would make it impossible for him to continue as president.

The response of both the US and Australian governments to Musharraf’s announcement exposes the hypocrisy of the “war on terror”. Both the Australian and US governments have been major supporters of Musharraf — particularly since the “war on terror” began in 2001. The US has provided $10 billion worth of aid since 2001 alone. This is despite the US and Australian governments claiming they are fighting “wars for democracy” in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both governments have only offered weak verbal opposition to Musharraf’s latest move. Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer has tried to defend his government’s weak stance by explaining it has “little leverage” in Pakistan. But if the Australian government was serious in its “support for democracy”, it would immediately end its ties with, and support of, the Musharraf regime.

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