Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nigeria: The Battle for the Soul of Pakistan

This Day (Lagos)

Chinua Asuzu and Ngozi Mogbo

Pakistan has been plunged into severe crisis since President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency over one week ago.

Hundreds of Judges and lawyers in the beleaguered country have been arrested and detained, whilst the Constitution has been suspended. CHINUA ASUZU and NGOZI MOGBO take a look at the scenario and ask what lessons Nigeria can possible learn General Pervez Musharraf was until November 3, 2007 Pakistan's almost-civilian President. He retained, and still stubbornly retains, the post of Army Chief. Today, he is Head of State, Head of Government and head of the Military of that beleaguered country.

After several years of military dictatorship, General Musharraf apparently gave in to the clamour of Pakistanis for democratic government. But it was not to be a genuine transition, rather a charade to perpetuate himself in power. Musharraf organised a phoney election in which he ran for President whilst still Army Chief, defying clear provisions of the Constitution of Pakistan. He was declared winner.

Musharraf's election as President was vehemently challenged in court on the constitutional ground that he was not eligible to contest while holding the post of Army Chief. The law was clear on the matter and the ebullience of a significant segment of the Pakistani Judiciary remains internationally renowned. The world watched with bated breath to see how the Supreme Court of Pakistan would decide the issue. On BBC Hardtalk, Musharraf could not coherently answer a question as to how he would react if the verdict went against him.

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