In his address on television to the public, President Pervaiz Musharraf explained why he invoked emergency rule.
The onus was placed on the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which he accused to endangering the stability and security of Pakistan. It had been doing this, he alleges, by needlessly delaying important decisions and by questioning (and even ruling against) vital operations against terrorists and extremists. Musharraf did mention the Supreme Court’s impending decision regarding Musharraf’s reelection. But he said that the Supreme Court prolonged the ruling far longer than what was prudent for the proper functioning of the government. He did not make any mention of the fact that the Supreme Court was said to be leaning to rule against him.
Musharraf said that after the Supreme Court prevailed against Musharraf — which ruling he said he accepted despite the fact he did not agree with it — it was infiltrated by political opportunists who set aside the good of the country and focused on their own political agendas. What was most concerning was that the Supreme Court began to oppose the government’s actions and operations against terrorists and extremists. When the government, after much patience, put an end to the Red Mosque (in Urdu: Lal Masjid) terrorist presence, the Supreme Court cried foul. There was nothing foul, and that operation was absolutely vital for the security and safety of the capital. (Yes, this den of terrorism was smack dab in the middle of Pakistan’s capital.) In discussing the Red Mosque, Musharraf emphasized a number of key issues that made the situation so troublesome something had to be done. One was national pride: Pakistan was being shamed in the international community by the antics of this den of criminals. What was also embarrassing was the impression that the Pakistani government could not even control its own capital. Anyway, after Pakistani forces made many sacrifices, the Supreme Court cried foul. The Supreme Court stymied other efforts of the government to go after terrorists, militants, and extremists. And, finally, the Supreme Court ordered that known criminals and terrorists be freed. Let me repeat that: the Supreme Court freed terrorists. This was all as a part of its political agenda against Musharraf. By doing so, it not only endangered Pakistan. Its delay in political matters was making governance difficult. Indeed, Musharraf said, the prime minister had submitted a complaint that the Supreme Court was making governing Pakistan difficult if not impossible.
Now, on to us Americans. We can also cry foul; we can also support the Pakistani judiciary against the Pakistani executive and military. But we would be stupid if we did.
We had been quite concerned for some time that Pakistan was not helping us the way we need it to and to the extent we need it to. The reason for this is the Pakistani Supreme Court. After its antics against the government with regard to the Red Mosque incident, the government and military essentially backed down. The result, along with legitimizing the claims of terrorists against Pakistan’s government and along with its freeing of terrorists and criminals, was an upsurge of violence and attacks. And they became emboldened.
We cannot give Musharraf blanket approval. The resolution of internal problems should not be the suspension of the constitution. But we need to recognize that various elements of Pakistani politics made it difficult for the government to defend Pakistan and to assist us. The Supreme Court took the side of the terrorists, for political reasons, and this is completely unacceptable.