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Pakistan: Media, Reactions and the Emergency

Categories: South Asia, Pakistan, Economics & Business, Freedom of Speech, Governance, Human Rights, Law, Technology

A guide [1] to understanding the state of emergency in Pakistan, has now been posted courtesy of The Emergency Times [2], which gives us another interesting perspective:

Well, for starters, the entire constitution has been put in abeyance (read suspended). This is more synonymous to a martial law, which is not provided for in the Constitution and is in fact a serious violation of Article 6 of the Constitution which makes any person who “subverts or attempts or conspires to subvert the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by other unconstitutional means guilty of high treason”.

All things Pakistan [3], admits [4] that the extremism and violence has gone out of hand while society is deeply divided with religion having been high-jacked and is now routinely used to incite violence, however none of this is a justification for a suspension of the Constitution and for the declaration of emergency;

all this is damning evidence of government failure .

Pakistan is now over 52 hours into the state of emergency that was declared late on Saturday night, and given a media blackout which is in-effect, GEO News [5] has responded by making the audio stream of its transmissions available online [6]. Although cell phone services and internet access are still up and running, some bloggers like Alien, [7] fear that this may change tomorrow:

All international news channels and local cable news channels are down. Only PTV State News is on the air. So far we still have Internet access and mobile phones but this might change tomorrow as the reaction to the emergency hits full throttle.

On the subject of cell phone jamming, during the early hours of the emergency, some news agencies were reporting that mobile phones were being jammed and SMS [8] services had been suspended, however given our experiences with disaster relief communications, we now know that despite heavy interferences to cell phone reception, text messaging does work and in the event that Pakistan's cell phone carriers start enforcing mobile jamming, this will not effect SMS services since it has proven to be ineffective in the past [9] due to cheap devices having been implemented and the fact that most of these devices and systems been banned [10] by the PTA (Pakistan Telecommunications Authority) earlier this year via an official telecoms regulation [11] to various institutions that were asked to remove them in a deadline which ended on 30th Jan, 2007.

A SMS 2 Blog (and blog 2 SMS) informational service is now in the process of being set up to allow those who wish to report news and happenings on the ground at Help-Pakistan [12], details of which will be posted shortly.

It is a case of the Taliban versus Pakistan [13] at Pakspectator where Ghazala blogs that ‘Pakistan is himself eroding his own country and Pakistan is himself attack his own people‘:

Why don't we talk with our people in Waziristan and Swat and elsewhere? Why bomb them out? People in Pakistan feel the same way, as they feel in Waziristan and Swat, and so they better get prepared to bomb the whole of Pakistan.

One of the bloggers who are worried about events that may happen after the announcement of Musharaff's mini martial law is Bilal who stresses that Pakistan is at the brink of a political meltdown [14], while Monday's trading on the Karachi Stock Exchange [15] saw Pakistan's biggest one-day decline (via BBC News [16]) as a result of the emergency with economists fearing the loss of long-term investments into the country spelling out the nation's financial meltdown.