Daily Times : Emergency imposed for democracy: Musharraf

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Emergency imposed for democracy: Musharraf

By Irfan Ali | November 4, 2007

KARACHI: President General Pervez Musharraf said on Saturday night that he was forced to proclaim an emergency so Pakistan could complete the third phase of its transition to democracy, which “judicial interference” had impeded, thus causing an environment of uncertainty.

“Harmony and solidarity among the three pillars of the state has to be brought in for economic progress and development and to counter extremism and terrorism,” he said in a 46-minutes address to the nation broadcast live on television. He said the emergency was proclaimed after a surge in suicide attacks that had taken extremism and terrorism to their height.

He said in the first stage of transition, from 1999 to 2002, he was in direct control of the country. In the second stage from 2002 to 2007, he said, his role was only supervisory, as a parliament, provincial assemblies and local government system were in place.

He said in the last phase, which was to be completed in the next three months, he was to become a civilian president and the country would have moved to complete civil democracy after holding general elections.

He said he was still fully committed to holding free and fair elections, but did not say when.

Gen Musharraf said there would be no change in government. The prime minister, governors and chief ministers will retain their positions and the National Assembly, Senate and provincial assemblies will continue.

He said that judicial activism, particularly by the Supreme Court, had nearly paralysed the government. Senior government officials were nonchalant because they were repeatedly summoned to court to face humiliation for performing their duties. He said around a hundred suo motu cases were being heard in the SC and thousands of applications for suo motu notices were pending, most of them against the executive. The legislature introduced laws and the executive was meant to implement those laws, but the judiciary challenged them, he said.

Gen Musharraf said this situation demoralised government functionaries across the country. Officials in Islamabad in particular were discouraged because their bosses were being punished by the judiciary. He said the SC’s action against two IGs in Islamabad had demoralised the police force.

He said that foreign investors were also uncertain because the Supreme Court had prolonged the case regarding his qualification to contest presidential election. He said that he was elected president with 57% votes and unofficial results were announced, but formal notification was delayed because of the Supreme Court.

He said that the court had also released terrorist suspects who had been confirmed to be terrorists by the intelligence agencies. Now terrorists were not scared of the security agencies. This encouraged suicide attacks throughout the country. He said the extremists’ takeover of Lal Masjid and their kidnapping of Chinese citizens and killings of police officials also tarnished Pakistan’s image, but now relatives of Lal Masjid’s former administration were again given control of the mosque.

He said that he had consulted the military, civilians, people from government and private and overseas Pakistanis to thrash out a possible line of action.

He said that some programmes on some news channels also contributed to uncertainty through negativism, even though it was he and his government that had allowed the media to expand in Pakistan.

He said his motto was that Pakistan comes first. He said the prime minister had complained to him in written that the government couldn’t deal with the situation. He said he had expected the government and law enforcement agencies would be able deal with the situation and therefore he hadn’t played any role for some time. He said recent economic indicators showed a downward trend.

* Painful decisions have to be taken. Solidarity of the country will be endangered.
* Senior officials are being insulted in the Supreme Court.
* Economic boom has come to a halt.
* The media added insult to injury.
* Legislature, government institutions and judiciary at loggerheads.
* I hammered out a strategy in 1999 — I played the professional role from 1999 to 2002. From 2002 onwards, the democratic system was run. This second phase was well-steered.