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.