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Pakistan government suspends civil liberties
Billions in U.S. aid to continue for ‘antiterror’ war
N.Y. state moves toward federal ID card system
Venezuela: pro-imperialist opposition protests changes to constitution
UN vote calls for an end to U.S. embargo against Cuba
Push needed to regain sub drive momentum
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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 71/No. 43      November 19, 2007




From Subprime to Subhuman, the Real Perspective
under American Imperialism
A Chinese View of the Cuban Revolution
Click here for more information

(lead article)
Pakistan government suspends civil liberties
Billions in U.S. aid to continue for ‘antiterror’ war
AFP/Getty/Mohammad Malik
Cops arrest lawyers protesting Musharraf government in Multan, Pakistan, November 6.

WASHINGTON, November 6—The Bush administration says it will continue to send billions of dollars in military aid to the government of Pakistan despite the imposition of a state of emergency by that country’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. U.S. officials have made it clear their priority is bolstering a critical ally in Washington’s “global war on terrorism” in the region.

On November 3 Musharraf suspended Pakistan’s constitution, dissolved the Supreme Court and four provincial high courts, arrested hundreds of opposition leaders, and shut down privately owned news media. Musharraf had been informed that the Supreme Court was going to nullify his re-election last month on the basis that he is ineligible to continue as president while also heading the military.

The Musharraf regime, which first took power in a 1999 military coup, had initially been a protector of the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. When Washington launched its drive to overthrow the Taliban-led regime after Sept. 11, 2001, Musharraf became an unstable but staunch U.S. strategic ally. Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, some Taliban and al-Qaeda forces have been operating out of Pakistan.

In recent years the Pakistani army has carried out joint operations against the Taliban with U.S. special forces on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.  
Billions in U.S. military aid
The U.S. government has given an estimated $10 billion to Pakistan in the past six years. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said November 5 that joint U.S.-Pakistani military operations would continue despite the state of emergency.

Whitman said U.S. military aid to Pakistan is about $80 million a month.

U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said the administration would review aid to Musharraf in light of the state of emergency, but added, “We have to be very cognizant of the fact that some of the assistance that has been going to Pakistan is directly related to the counterterrorism mission.”

U.S. president George Bush said, “We expect there to be elections as soon as possible, and that the president should remove his military uniform.” But, he said, Musharraf “has been a strong fighter against extremists and radicals.”

The crisis of the Musharraf regime has been fueled by opposition to its close cooperation with Washington’s war moves. His regime has faced increasing challenges from bourgeois opposition parties, as well as from armed Islamist groups with ties to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Washington has encouraged Musharraf to negotiate a governing arrangement with leaders of opposition parties, including former prime minister Benazir Bhutto of the Pakistan Peoples Party, and to step down as head of the army.

Some 2,000 people have been arrested so far. In one of the biggest protests, 2,000 lawyers rallied outside the High Court in Lahore. Cops armed with tear gas broke up a meeting at the headquarters of the Pakistani Human Rights Commission in the same city. Some 500 opposition party figures have been arrested.

Supreme Court chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who is under house arrest, called on lawyers and the population as a whole to continue to resist the state of emergency.

Musharraf accused the Supreme Court of releasing 61 men who he said were under investigation for “terrorist” activities.  
U.S. ‘war on terror’
The Bush administration has increasingly complained about what it says is the Pakistani government’s poor job in combating “terrorism.” Washington and Islamabad differed sharply over pacts Musharraf negotiated with tribal leaders last year to enlist them in the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the country’s western border region and to reduce the presence of Pakistani troops there. The pacts failed, and when Musharraf ordered soldiers back into the area, many were killed or captured.

U.S. vice-president Richard Cheney made an unannounced visit to Islamabad in February to threaten Musharraf that U.S. aid to Pakistan could be cut unless al-Qaeda and the Taliban were hunted down more aggressively.

In July, 2,000 Pakistani soldiers had been sent to the mountainous Swat region to subdue Islamists, but were largely inactive for three months. The Islamist groups reportedly control 10 percent of the region. On November 1 the Pakistani military attacked a group of 500 armed Islamists in that area.

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