FROM Talat Masood
Bloody Unrest for a Crucial American Ally On Saturday, President Pervez Musharraf imposed a state of emergency on Pakistan, claiming that militant violence and an unruly judiciary had created a crisis. Today, protesters in several cities have been tear-gassed and beaten as police arrested thousands of opposition leaders and shut down some media. The worsening situation complicates the US relationship with a country President Bush calls a vital ally in the war on terror. Since September 11, the US has poured billions of dollars into Pakistan, supposedly for help in controlling al Qaeda. Pakistan also provides bases and routes for US military supplies going into Afghanistan. We hear how Musharraf's state of emergency is creating a delicate problem for US diplomacy.
Politically Turbulent Times in Pakistan As expected, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharaf was re-elected by national and local parliaments this weekend, even though he’s still the Army’s Chief of Staff. His victory was assured when the party of exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto abstained from voting. But the Supreme Court has yet to rule on whether it’s legal for Musharaff to hold elected office while he still wears his uniform. Meantime, Bhutto plans to return to the country after Musharaff granted her amnesty from corruption charges .
Exiled Political Leaders Threaten Musharraf's Power in Pakistan Benazir Bhutto was exiled from Pakistan, and faces corruption charges if she returns. But the former prime minister claims she has worked out a deal with the current President, Pervez Musharraf. Another exiled former leader, Nawaz Sharif, plans to return early next month. Before meeting with her political party's leaders in London tomorrow, Bhutto wants Musharraf to confirm that he'll give up his leadership of the Army when he runs for re-election. Musharraf's spokesman confirms the talks but denies the President has decided to resign as head of the Army. Sharif says Bhutto is "strengthening the hand of a dictator." We get perspective on this nuclear power called a "vital American ally in the war on terror."
American Presidential Politics and Pakistan Illinois Senator Barack Obama made headlines in the US and across the world this week. As President, he said, he would launch military strikes in northwestern Pakistan under certain conditions. His Democratic opponents and Pakistan's government have denounced that idea, but for different reasons. With Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda rebuilding in that region, is it time to get tough with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf? We hear more about Musharraf's political troubles and his reliability as an American ally. Has tough action—in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan—already had unintended consequences, including demands by ethnic Pashtuns for their own country?
Diplomacy and Promises of Democracy in the Middle East The Arab summit is reaching out to Israel, led by the regional powerhouse of Saudi Arabia, where King Abdullah has taken up where Egypt left off. Despite Israel's initial rejection five years ago, Prime Minister Olmert has agreed to take another look. In Egypt itself, voters have increased the powers of President Mubarak, but the election's being criticized as a violation of his promise to increase democracy. Pakistan's President Musharraf, a guest at today's Arab summit, is another US ally accused of stifling dissent to strengthen his own position. For three years before September 11, US aid to Pakistan amounted to less than $10 million; since then, it's been more than $10 billion, with only Israel and Egypt getting more. How great is the risk of extremist takeovers in Egypt or Pakistan? Is US aid promoting democracy or propping up repressive regimes? We hear from journalists, military and political analysts, foreign policy experts, and human rights advocates.
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