Despite the lifting of the state of emergency on December 15 by Pakistani President Pervez Moucharraf, the legislative elections on January 8 will be held under close surveillance. Because, beyond the political conflicts and the attacks – at least seven hundred and sixty dead in 2007 -, the general staff is determined to keep control of power. Especially since the army has acquired, over the years, a growing economic role from which the senior officers derive significant revenues which they are not ready to give up.
Recently , a Pakistani newspaper published an investigation showing that the business community prefers a regime led by the military. Who will be surprised ? Like the other elites, the great capitalists of this country are very comfortable with the fact that one of the pillars of power is the army. This one considers besides invested with a mission: “to put in step ” rebellious civilians and supposed less patriots than it. This is what she wanted to do again, on November 3, when President Pervez Moucharraf suspended the constitution and declared a state of emergency ( Emergency Plus). The general claimed it was to maintain the integrity of the state against religious extremists and terrorists. In fact, this decision was aimed at preserving the extraordinary political, and above all economic, power of the army.
Indeed, if the armed forces constitute the largest political party in the country, we know less that they are also an economic power weighing 6 % of the gross national product (GNP), if not more.
Pakistan’s history abounds in coups. But this is the first time that a general has reoffended in the matter. Mr. Moucharraf seized power on October 12, 1999 by ousting the head of a civilian government, Mr. Nawaz Sharif. Last November, he did not have to dismiss anyone but simply to establish a state of emergency, thus acknowledging his own failure in the direction of the country. He revised the military law of 1952, so that the military could arrest civilians and bring them before councils of war without a judicial warrant. The trials will even take place behind closed doors.
The president claims that these special powers are intended to facilitate the fight against terrorism and religious extremism: in recent months, suicide bombings and other attacks against the military have multiplied. But General Moucharraf is especially against the highest judicial body in the country, accused of having released sixty-one ” terrorists ” arrested by the intelligence services, (…)
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Note: This article originally published here.