Thursday, October 04, 2007

U.S. ally Musharraf scrambles to stay on top

Socialist Worker, October 5, 2007

DAVID WHITEHOUSE analyzes the impact of Pervez Musharraf’s expected re-election.

PAKISTAN’S PRESIDENT Gen. Pervez Musharraf appears to have the votes lined up to assure victory in an October 6 vote, but opposition to his rule is building to a new crescendo following six months of political crisis.

The military dictator--and partner in the U.S. “war on terror”--has jailed hundreds of opponents in recent weeks and thwarted the political return of Nawaz Sharif, the civilian prime minister he overthrew seven years ago. The capital of Islamabad is on virtual lockdown, with all traffic in and out controlled by army checkpoints and assemblies of more than five are banned.

At the end of September, thousands of security forces, including Army Rangers, thrashed and tear-gassed a crowd of hundreds in Islamabad protesting the election commission’s decision to let Musharraf campaign for president while still holding the post of army chief. Those injured and arrested included lawyers, journalists, opposition members of parliament and passersby.

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