Monday, August 18, 2008

Spokesman Says Embattled Musharraf Will Soldier On; AP Twirls

[Updated below]

Pakistan's President, former General Pervez Musharraf, will address the nation very soon in the face of impeachment proceedings. Musharraf has reportedly been asked to step down, but through a spokesman he has declared his intention to soldier on.

Just a few minutes ago, China's news agency Xinhua reported:
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will not resign while addressing the nation on Monday afternoon, said presidential spokesman Rashid Qureshi.

The reports on Musharraf's resignation "are nonsense," Qureshi told Xinhua via telephone.

"President Musharraf will address the nation, only two hours from now," Qureshi said. But Qureshi did not say what Musharraf would say at the address.
The Press Trust of India has a few more details:
Musharraf, who held consultations with his legal and political advisors this morning, will address the nation at 1 pm, presidential spokesman Maj Gen (retired) Rashid Qureshi said. Other sources said Musharraf is expected to make "some important announcements" during his speech.
Important announcements, indeed.

As AFP notes:
Musharraf, a key ally in the US-led "war on terror", has other options available apart from resignation, including his powers as president to dissolve parliament and even to declare a state of emergency.
AFP notes that such moves would require the support of the Army; it is not certain whether the Army would continue to support Musharraf if he were to declare martial law, dissolve the parliament and incarcerate all his political opposition, as I've suggested that he might.

Depending on where you stand, the situation is poised to get ugly in any number of ways.

As AFP mentions:
Western allies want Pakistan to resolve the crisis over Musharraf so it can deal with the fight against Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, where nearly 500 people have died in the past week.
It's not clear what moves might be taken to "resolve the crisis". The "options" range from a declaration of peace to full frontal bombardment. But guess who supports which option? And guess who's calling the shots?

The Associated Press has a report online at the moment which is illustrated by the three lower photos you see here; these photos all appear with the same caption, which reads:
Supporters of Pakistan's religious party, Jamat-i-Islami, or Party of Islam, shout slogans against Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf as they take part in a demonstration in Karachi, Pakistan, on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2008. President Pervez Musharraf will not resign, his spokesman said Sunday, even after Pakistan's coalition agreed a host of charges with which to impeach the former general. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
The twirl is subliminal; as if the only opposition to Musharraf's continued tenure in office were coming from Islamists.

How soon we ('re supposed to) forget: In the most recent elections, Pakistani voters overwhelmingly supported the moderate secular parties, especially PPP (the Pakistan Peoples Party, led by Asif Ali Zardari, husband of the assassinated former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto) and the PML-N (Pakistani Muslim League - Nawaz), former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's faction of the former PML.

The other PML faction, PML-Q, still supports Musharraf, and was obliterated at the polls; similarly the radical Islamist party found little or no support in most areas.

But the AP doesn't want you to know that, and the Bush administration doesn't want you to know that, either. I've been reading a few bloggers who suddenly want to talk about Pakistan, and they're not talking in these terms either -- they probably don't know it, themselves.

Fear sells so much better ...

... speaking of which, read Chris Floyd's newest: "Fear, Procurement, Profit: Permanent War and the American Way". Here's a taste:
"The threat always drives procurement. It doesn't matter what party is in office."
UPDATE: He resigned!

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