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Pakistan: Stability, Activism and the Emergency

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

As the reality of the emergency sets in, reactions from bloggers explore the idea of democracy and stability in the country, looking at the consequences of the current political situation. Metroblogging Lahore [1] points to the ups and downs in the biggest stock exchange in Karachi, and that a similar trend could be seen at the Lahore Stock Exchange.

Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE 100) nose-dived on the first trading day under Emergency rule this Monday while registering a record fall of 635 points. However, the market regained some ground on Tuesday by jumping up 146.87 points to close at 13,426.1

The blog also provides a running update on a student protest [2] at Lahore.

iFaqeer [3] has a different take on the situation, a perspective that underlines that people are probably not going to be passive participants in the political situation.

As Adil says, people see a picture and all they feel is shame for the 5 policemen beating up a lawyer; I feel nothing but pride, for I see one Pakistani putting his self on the line for his principle. People see a media blackout; I see journalists that a dictator has no choice but to ban.

A thought and comment provoking discussion at Sepia Mutiny as Abhi [4] writes

To be clear, I do not condone the jailing of lawyers and judges but Pakistan is not ready for the type of democracy they currently protest in favor of. There is not one shred of proof pointing to a better outcome if elections were to take place, nor a single candidate that one could point to as a competent successor to Musharraf, one likely to provide stability in Pakistan and by extension in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Amardeep, another blogger at Sepia Mutiny argues against this point of view [5].

My point is this: elections are necessary for democracy to occur, but they aren’t sufficient for democracy to sustain itself. What Musharraf should have done, if he really cared about transitioning to democracy, was, first of all, let the Supreme Court rule on whether the recent Presidential election was valid. Secondly, he needed to give up his uniform (though admittedly, that should probably have happened first). Thirdly, Parliamentary elections.

Law and Other Things [6], an Indian blog reflects on judicial activism given the turn of events in Pakistan. Indian Muslims [7] comments on Pakistan having been taken to the past again, and how Musharraf seems to have no support from any side.

Gradually Musharraf has found himself losing his grip. Tribesmen accuse him of killing his own people and have adapted suicide bombings, a deadly new import to Pakistan. The secular Pakistanis chafing under dictatorship accuse him of failing to protect Pakistan from the growing reactionary extremism within Pakistan.

Activism seems to be in the air. Chapati Mystery [8] links to a document –

From students and activists in Pakistan comes The Emergency Telegraph [9] [pdf link] – the first issue of a comprehensive booklet that hopes to fill in the vacuum created by the media blackout in Pakistan”. It includes a short note from Asma Jahangir as well other links, eye-witness reports etc.