Nov 08, 2007

Pakistan: President Has ‘Lost His Marbles’

Following the imposition of a state of emergency, the president has placed the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and active human rights activist, under house arrest for 90 days.

The Hague, 8 November 2007 - Pakistan’s President Musharraf can be a very confusing man. Long been seen by many as the only man that can  ‘contain’ terrorist activities to the Tribal Areas, his ‘benevolent’ dictatorship had also consistently promised a transition to civilian rule.

This US-backed leader, reminiscent in many ways of a Cold War strongman, has imposed emergency rule and suspended the constitution to ensure the transition progresses according to his plan. Others, however, may argue that Musharraf is tightening his grip as he feels power slip away. The arrest of judges and lawyers, and others who are critical of his rule, most notably Asma Jahangir, a prominent human rights activist and UN official, would suggest the latter is true.

Certainly, the chances that Ms. Jahangir is actively behind the destabilisation of Pakistan are slim.

As the 90 day house arrest is not only illogical, but also contrary to the principles of democratisation, the international community has appealed for her to be released, along with scores of others who have been arrested.

Below is a communication by Asma Jahangir as published on

There is a strong crackdown on the press and lawyers... The Chief Justice is under house arrest (unofficially). The President of the Supreme Court Bar (Aitzaz Ahsan) and 2 former presidents, Mr. Muneer Malik and Tariq Mahmood have been imprisoned for one month under the Preventive Detention laws...

There are other scores political leaders who have also been arrested.

Yesterday I was house arrested for 90 days... the President (who has lost his marbles) said that he had to clamp down on the press and the judiciary to curb terrorism. Those he has arrested are progressive, secular minded people, while the terrorists are offered negotiations and ceasefires.

Lawyers and civil society will challenge the government and the scene is likely to get uglier. We want friends of Pakistan to urge the US administration to stop all support of the instable dictator, as his lust for power is bringing the country close to a worse form of civil strife...