Monday, March 16, 2009

Good news and bad news in Pakistan

The signs of instability and conflicting forces among the Pakistanis continue to burst into the open.

On the one hand, the news from Lahore is encouraging: the police finally backed down and allowed Nawaz Sharif to escape house arrest; and finally Zardari has allow Chief Justice Chaudhry to be reinstated. This is a huge change: popular protests have forced the government to back down. No doubt the army was the critical influence on Zardari's government, but it was because of the protests that the army stepped in.

Chaudhry had been removed by Musharraf because Musharraf feared he would delegitimate his claim to hold office. But Zardari, now in Musharraf’s place, has his own reasons to distrust Chaudhry, for the Chief Justice has in the past had similar objections to Zardari.

The Asia Times [] lists the issues that Chaudhry will likely address, once he is in office:
> “the credibility of the National Reconciliation Ordinance - a presidential pardon - which Musharraf issued over the corruption cases against now-President Asif Ali Zardari and other PPP leaders, which enabled them to participate in elections and then form a government early last year;
> [and] the many dozens of missing people, . . . detained for alleged "war on terror" crimes without trail. Prior to his dismissal, Chaudhry had had run-ins with the military establishment over this.”

So while, finally, there is hope of the rule of law in Pakistan, with the reinstatement of the Chief Justice, there is trouble elsewhere. AFP reports that the Taliban have torched several trucks and trailers carrying goods for the American war in Afghanistan, the second such attach in the last two days. Elsewhere a drone has hit another location in tribal territory. It’s a hot war in western Pakistan.

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