Friday, November 9, 2007

OTB, Pakistan Edition

One of the justifications put forward by Pervez Musharraf for declaring martial law was the Pakistani Supreme Court's interference in terrorism prosecutions. To get a sense of just what the nature of the government's grievances were, here's a passage from an article describing revisions just made to Pakistan's Army Act giving military courts the right to prosecute terrorism cases:

Attorney General Malik Muhammad Qayyum told the channel that some new clauses and offences were being added to the existing Army Act to provide legal cover to law enforcement agencies. He said the ordinance would allow law enforcement agencies to legally arrest and prosecute alleged terrorists without an arrest warrant.

...Qayyum said the new ordinance was necessary and inevitable for protecting the sovereignty of the country, adding that it would be similar to the United States’ Patriot Act.

...the Supreme Court had questioned the intelligence agencies’ legal authority to apprehend and detain people during the missing persons’ case and this ordinance sought to redress that. The channel said that following the enactment of this ordinance, people arrested and shifted to an unknown location would not have to be presented before any court of law. It reported that the families of missing persons could not ask the courts to force law enforcement agencies to produce suspected terrorists.

This is, of course, more along the lines of a domestic Gitmo than the Patriot Act, but it's precisely why both the Patriot Act and Gitmo make people nervous in the States: Because the logic of constitutional infringements, especially in response to a threat like terrorism, is expansive. [Update: It's also a textbook example of bad actors using our compromises in the name of national security as cover for their own, even if their's are more egregious.]

In other Pakistan news, Nawaz Sharif has rejected Benazir Bhutto's overtures for a united front among opposition parties, basically accusing Bhutto of collaborating with the Musharraf regime for not withdrawing her deputies from parliament at the time of Musharraf's recent election.

And finally, as long as Pakistan coverage has transformed the situation into a horserace, here's who I'm betting will be running the country before the month is out: Gen. Ashaq Kiani. Currently the Army's second-in-command, he's the man already tapped to replace Musharraf as Chief of Staff. In addition to being a graduate of Ft. Leavenworth's General Staff College and the former head of Pakistan's notoriously powerful intelligence services (ISI), he also served as a military attache under Benazir Bhutto during her first term as Prime Minister in 1988. If that weren't enough to make him a perfect fit for a position as transitional dictator, he's also the president of the Pakistan Golf Association. Remember, you read it here first.

Posted by Judah in:  Pakistan   

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