ZEENEWS.COM India edition – November 3, 2007
Islamabad, Nov 03: President Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on Saturday evening, suspending the constitution and ordering troops to secure key government buildings. President Musharraf appointed Abdul Hameed Dogar as the country`s new Chief Justice after sacking Iftikhar Mohd Chaudhary.
The government dismissed Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhary saying his services were no longer needed. Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has ordered the other judges not to take oath under the new PCO.
All opposition lawmakers have resigned and a caretaker government will take over after seven days. The Senate, Cabinet, all assemblies and state governments will continue to function normally. Assembly elections are scheduled to be held on the 15th of January 2008.
It is believed that an eight-member bench had termed the decision to impose emergency as illegal and declared it null and void.
Reports suggest that the decision may have been provoked by an adverse judgement by the Supreme Court against Musharraf. It is suggested that a written judgement that invalidated Musharraf’s eligibility to run for the post of President was signed and ready.
This would have forced Musharraf to step down as President and make a way for another candidate thereby ending his tenure at the helm of affairs.
"The Chief of the Army Staff (Musharraf) has proclaimed state of emergency and issued provisional constitutional order (PCO)," a brief announcement on the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV) said at 6.10 pm Pakistan time without giving any details. All private news channels were immediately taken off the air.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry was removed from his post and troops took control of the Supreme Court.
All 13 Supreme Court judges have been asked to take fresh oath under the PCO but eight of them, including the Chief Justice, were taken into custody after they termed as unconstitutional the declaration of a state of emergency. Iftikhar Chaudhry is supposed to have been put into ‘protective’ confinement.
The official said the step followed soon after the state-run Pakistan Television announced imposition of emergency by Chief of Army Staff General Musharraf.
"Eight judges including Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry were taken into custody and taken to an unknown place from the Supreme Court building after they met taking a suo motu notice of the announcement and declared the emergency as illegal and unconstitutional," said the official on condition of anonymity.
He said that earlier at 5.30 pm all Supreme Court judges were served a two-line notice in their respective names saying their services were no more required by the government. He said that the Ministry of Law issued the order restraining the judges.
Dogar, one of the judges of the Supreme Court who had heard a petition challenging the continuance of Chaudhry as Chief Justice, was sworn in by Musharraf at a ceremony held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr.
He is among four judges who took oath under the provisional constitutional order. The other three judges of the apex court are Justice Nawaz Abbasi, Justice Faqir Muhammad Khokhar and Justice M Javed Buttar.
Besides, Pakistan government also appointed new chief justices for Sindh, Lahore and Balosisthan High Courts.
Justice Abdul Mohammed Somroo has been appointed as new Chief Justice of Sindh High Court while Justice Amanula Yasim Zai will be the new Chief Justice of Balosisthan High Court, the state-run PTV reported.
Justice Iftikhar Hussain Chaudhury has been appointed as new Chief Justice of Lahore High Court.
The move reportedly came in the face of increasing Islamist activity in the country and a possibly adverse Supreme Court verdict against his eligibility to hold the office for a second term.
Militants aligned to the Taliban and al-Qaeda have virtually taken over the Swat valley in the North West Frontier Province, capturing large numbers of Pakistani Army troops and demanding the imposition of Sharia Law in the region.
Musharraf`s move is seen as a direct slight to US President George W Bush, who had sent a top military commander to Islamabad to warn against any such drastic step.
At his meeting with Musharraf here Friday, Admiral William J Fallon, who heads the US Central Command, had warned him against imposing an emergency, saying this would jeopardize the extensive American financial support for the Pakistani military.
Under the PCO all executive powers have been transferred to Musharraf.
Leaders from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which is in power-sharing negotiations with Musharraf, were reluctant to react. "I heard it on television, let`s see what actually is," PPP leader Babar Awan said.
Meanwhile, PPP chief Benazir Bhutto, has arrived the country. Bhutto, who returned home from self-exile Oct 18, left the country Nov 1 ostensibly to meet her children in Dubai. She had earlier stated that she lacked confidence in President Pervez Musharraf.
Mush blames judicial interference, militancy for emergency
As expected Musharraf has blamed the rise in militancy and the Judiciary for the imposition of emergency in Paksitan.
In his address to the nation today Musharraf said that he had envisaged a three pronged transition to complete democracy. The first two phases being his rule as the army chief from the 1999 to 2002 and as president from 2002 to 2007. He said that the country has made progress during his tenure, which was in danger of being squandered because of the current crisis.
He said that even though he was the one who had given the media freedom some of the channels had also added to the crisis.
He blamed the judiciary for having created difficulties for him needlessly. He said the imposition of emergency is aimed at completing the last phase of the transition to democracy.
He appealed to the US, UK and EU to understand the criticality of the situation in Pakistan.
However, he did not mention any time frame for the holding of elections.
Last updated 05/11/2007