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'Musharraf had two challenges -- the insurgency in tribal areas and the judiciary'

November 08, 2007
Gopalapuram Parthasarathy, 67, is a former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan. Being a former army-man, Parthasarathy is considered a hardliner on security issues. Socially well-connected, Parthasarathy was an influential figure when he was working with then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. After retirement, he has carved a new career as a prolific commentator on foreign affairs and terrorism in Delhi's 24/7 television studios.

Here tells Managing Editor Sheela Bhatt his take on Pakistan after emergency.

Which are the crucial factors that lead to emergency?

General Pervez Musharraf has not imposed emergency, which can only be done under Pakistan's Constitution. Even if emergency is imposed you can not take away the people's liberty. Musharraf has issued a Provisional Constitution Order not in his capacity as President but as chief of army staff.

In effect, Musharraf as the chief of army staff has usurped the power of Musharraf as President. And, in the process what he has done is to curb fundamental rights and put beyond the jurisdiction of courts any action taken by the President and the prime minister or any official acting on their orders.

So in effect if you are a Pakistani citizen and if you are shot by the police or the army, your relatives have no recourse to legal action because they have acted under a PCO which is totally un-Constitutional.

Was emergency imposed because of the impending Supreme Court decision on Musharraf election or because of tribal unrest?

Musharraf had two challenges -- the insurgency in the tribal areas and the judiciary. He does not fear the political parties because he can manipulate them. To fight in the tribal areas you need political support of the moderate parties. But Musharraf has virtually put a ban on the activity of these parties and arrested their activists as well as members of the liberal intelligentsia.

He says he imposed emergency to deal with extremism. But you don't deal with extremism by isolating yourself from mainstream political parties. The real reason behind the emergency was that the Supreme Court was challenging his authority and arbitrary actions. Secondly, it was challenging his authority to remain as President.

On November 1, the government received intelligence reports that eight out of 11 judges were going to rule against him. Around that time you got statements by the railway minister, minister of parliamentary affairs and the attorney general suggesting that drastic action can follow if an adverse judgment came. So it was clear that emergency was primarily to safeguard his position as President and army chief.

Image: A police barricade outside President Pervez Musharraf's official residence in Islamabad sports a poster of former prime minister and PPP leader Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto, issued an ultimatum to Musharraf on November 7 demanding he restore the Constitution, hold elections and resign as army chief.
Photograph: Warrick Page/Getty Images

Also read: Is this Musharraf's worst crisis yet?

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