-  Tuesday 29 September 2020

Musharraf clamps emergency in Pakistan

 -  Kantipur

Nov 04 2007 - Embattled President Pervez Musharraf on Satuday night clamped a state of emergency in Pakistan ahead of a crucial Supreme Court ruling on the legality of his re-election, plunging the country into a fresh political crisis.

An eight-member Supreme Court bench immediately set aside the Emergency order which suspended the current Constitution amid reports that Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who has been at loggerheads with Musharraf, has been asked to go.

Musharraf, who had seized power in a bloodless coup ousting Nawaz Sharif in October, 1999, took the step as he struggled to contain the militant violence and faced serious challenge to his political authority, raising doubts over parliamentary polls planned for January.

"The chief of army staff (Musharraf) has proclaimed a state of emergency and issued a Provisional Constitutional Order," the state-run Pakistan TV said without elaborating.

Security forces were deployed around vital installations, including state-run TV and radio stations, in the capital and other parts of the country. Army troops entered the Supreme Court building while dozens of security personnel blocked the road leading to the apex court with the judges inside, witnesses said.

All land and mobile telephone services were suspended and several private TV channels were taken off air.

Security forces arrested Eitzaz Ahsan, Supreme Court Bar Association chief who successfully defended Chaudhry after he was suspended in March by Musharraf. Ahsan had represented the petitioners opposing Musharraf's re-election in the Supreme Court.

The Association, which had spearheaded a massive anti-Musharraf campaign by the lawyers, had earlier issued a resolution saying it will oppose imposition of emergency.

The Supreme Court had earlier said it will give its verdict by November six on the legality of Musharraf's re-election in uniform for the post of President.

Musharraf had said that if re-elected he would doff his uniform, a key demand of the opposition. However, later he said he will decide on his course of action after the Supreme Court ruling on his re-election, leading to speculation that he may declare a state of emergency or martial law in case of an adverse verdict.

Musharraf is expected to address the nation later on Saturday night setting out the reasons for imposing emergency rule.

According to TV channels, judges would have to take a fresh oath under the new provisional constitutional order.

Senior security officials were meeting in the interior ministry to discuss the situation and the possible detention of senior political leaders and lawyers, they said

Ahead of clamping emergency, Musharraf held a series of meetings with close aides, security advisors and senior ministers. He was briefed by Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao on the situation in Swat, where over 150 people have died in clashes between government troops and militants.

This was followed by a meeting at the presidency between Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, ruling PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, cabinet ministers and senior intelligence officials.

Security was tightened in Islamabad and across the country. More than 1,500 personnel from Punjab province were deployed in the national capital, including the Constitution Avenue, the central boulevard along which the parliament, president and Supreme Court are located.

Source: Kantipur

Other articles by reporter Kantipur

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