Friday, March 16, 2007

Cracking Down or Cracking Up

The scenes outside the Supreme Court made for riveting TV this afternoon. Armed Police were attempting to prevent hundreds of determined demonstrators from reaching the court building. There were clouds of tears gas amid reports of a heavy use of rubber bullets and the ever-present lathi.

Intriguingly behind the lines of police one saw a large backup contingent of military rangers dressed in their khaki uniforms, carrying automatic weapons.

Then one heard a live report from the politico Qazi Hussain Ahmed speaking from a local police station. It appears he had been arrested by the police who somehow had allowed him to keep his phone. The JI Chief informed us that he had been physically picked up by Army Commandos and carried to a police wagon.

Shortly afterwards we saw the scene of Qazi Hussain Ahmed’s arrest on TV and he had not made the story up at all. There were a large number of burly men in green outfits picking up the protesting politicians one by one.

First the rangers, and now army commandos?

Then the 4pm Geo TV News came on at about 14 minutes past the hour. Your Blogger, suspicious as ever, reckoned something was in the wind. Within minutes of the news coming on a large detachment of police attacked the Geo office in central Islamabad, smashing windows and thrashing the staff with lathis. Unbelievably they even fired off a number of tear gas shells within the confines of the office.

As the police rampaged in the Geo office ransacking whatever came to hand, the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mohamed Ali Durrani appeared on the scene and began remonstrating with the police. Quite incredibly they went on with their work of destruction and completely ignored him. Obviously the order to invade Geo must have come from a higher source.

All this leads your Blogger to conclude that that the man micromanaging the ‘defence’ of Islamabad was none other than the Commando general himself. Angered by the showing of mayhem a door away from his own Presidency, a message must have been sent to Geo to behave or else. The Geo staff must have contacted Shakil-ur-Rehman (or some other senior), hence the 14 minute delay in showing the 4pm News bulletin. The moment Geo decided not to buckle down the assault commenced.

Given the unfolding scenario I think it fair to ask: Is Musharraf cracking down or cracking up?

The answer to that question will emerge in the coming days.


Anonymous said...

Your blog titled 'Chief Justice of Pakistan' has an image :
of size 648.74 KB

A v. humble suggestion from me, an avid reader of your blog is - can this image possibly be replaced with something smaller in size so that your page is easier to load? Thanks.

mountainman said...

Onlooker, there appears to be more than a few acts of defiance going on and now the media has also joined in which is very encouraging. The Geo incidents, first Kamran Khan's program and then this other incident, are particularly remarkable because Jang Group had taken a staunchly pro-Musharraf line in the past few years. This of course makes people like us happy, but do you have a lingering suspicion that there are some invisible forces also supporting the current anti-Generalissmo moves? I mean I for one believe that Kamran Khan is very much a man of our ubiquitous agencies and him going against the government line does ring a bell. In any case, this is a mere afterthought and I am quiet pleased that our rulers are spending some sleepless nights pondering how to "defend" their fortress in Islamabad.

libertarian said...

Onlooker, mountainman: More power to you people. Hope you folks reclaim what is rightfully yours. Watching Mush and his cohorts dissolve gives much satisfaction. Question is: should Mush become "non-functional", what is the end-game and what is the way forward?

Anonymous said...

Anything short of a mass uprising by the people will end in Pakistan becoming weaker and weaker.....then its just a matter of time before we cease being.


Anonymous said...

Mountainman, owners of the Geo/Jang have acted terribly dishonourably. Last year in October or was it September the editor of Dawn was being lambasted for having met Musharraf. But can anyone criticise his policy now. Hardly, given that Dawn is the only paper that seems to be consistent in its editorial policy. Can I detect a hint on contrition in Onlooker now.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify what I meant by dishonourably. Read the editorial in yesterday's Jang. An exercise in sucking up to dear old Mush. This is a few days after Geo was going after the government. They seem to have changed the tune so quickly.

Onlooker said...

I am pleased to see that Dawn has been courageously forthright for the past three months.

Full marks to its editorial staff.

It is a matter of record that the Government stopped advertising through the newspaper from 22nd December 2006 onwards - a major revenue loss for the newspaper.

The regime has also put a spanner in the works for Dawn's TV news channel which was meant to start broadcasting by now. The Govt. agency PEMRA refused to give the TV channel rights to broadcast from Pakistan. Carrying a full TV staff and no revenue the Dawn group must be bleeding financially.

Credit must be given to the editor for not buckling down. As for my comments last year - I still believe, given the circumstances, they were justified at that time. I am of course mightily pleased with the change in attitude. Long may it continue!