Monday, November 05, 2007

FOSA's 2007 Eid-Diwali celebration held on Sunday, November 4 turned into a brainstorming session to work with other organizations and people in Pakistan to resist emergency rule. The following media advisory sent to various publications was read in the meeting.

FOSA Demands the Restoration of Democracy in Pakistan
The military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, has imposed a state of emergency in Pakistan, aborting the long-awaited return to democracy. With the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO), Mr. Musharraf has authorized himself to rule by decree, suspended fundamental rights in Pakistan, and granted himself unlimited powers. The PCO also prohibits the Supreme Court of Pakistan from passing a judgment against Mr. Musharraf. When the Supreme Courtrefused to ratify Mr. Musharraf's declaration of the state of emergency, eight SC judges, including Iftikhar Muhammad Choudhary, the Chief Justice, were taken into custody and Mr. Musharraf appointed a new Chief Justice. Other judges from lower courts and many lawyers, including Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, have been detained. Regular news broadcasts have been suspended, independent TV news channels forced off the air and curbs imposed on the media.
Friends of South Asia (, a San Francisco bay area based organization, strongly condemns the declaration of emergency rule in Pakistan. It is an illegal and unconstitutional decision and an attempt by a military dictator to continue his illegal and unconstitutional rule. This declaration of a state of emergency must be universally condemned and the generals in Pakistan must end their stranglehold on the country.
FOSA expresses its solidarity with the people of Pakistan in their demand for an end to dictatorship and for free fair and elections. We are heartened by the courage shown by the Justices of the Supreme Court who have declared the PCO and the imposition of the state of emergency illegal and unconstitutional. The Court has declared that no judge of the Supreme Court or any of the high courts including the chief justices would take oath under new PCO. We also commend civil society organizations such as various human rights groups, lawyers groups, independent news and blogger sites in Pakistan who continue to organize and inform the public in defiance of the government orders.
FOSA rejects President Musharraf's defence of emergency rule as a necessary step to combat extremism and terrorism. We disagree that suspending the rights and liberties of its own citizens would in any way help Pakistan fight extremists and terrorists. This is a transparent ploy by Mr. Musharraf and his military junta to crush the nascent movement towards democracy.
FOSA joins with all citizens of Pakistan in demanding an immediate end to the emergency rule and a speedy restoration of the constitution and the rule of law. To ensure working of an independent judiciary, all Supreme Court judges deposed on November 3 by Mr. Musharraf should be restored to their positions. FOSA demands that all political workers and members of the legal fraternity arrested in the wake of declaration of emergency rule be immediately released.

Previously, a bolder plan of action was under consideration. Here is the draft.

With the imposition of Emergency on November 3, 2007
General Pervez Musharraf has plunged Pakistan into
great uncertainty. Whereas General Pervez Musharraf
says he took the precarious step to save Pakistan, no
one doubts the only thing Musharraf is interested in
saving is his own grip on power.

We condemn Pervez Musharraf’s latest authoritarian
decree and want Pakistanis and well-wishers of
Pakistan to build pressure on him to take back the
emergency measures. But having witnessed Pervez
Musharraf’s propensity to sacrifice anything for his
own personal gain we doubt if Musharraf under any
cogent force would backtrack.

Considering Pakistanis desire for democracy, the
recent struggle for the restoration of a Chief Justice
illegally removed by the dictator, the ongoing
pro-civil society debates in the erstwhile independent
Pakistani media, and the pro-democracy sentiments
within the Pakistan army we wish to humbly suggest a
shorter path towards restoring order in Pakistan.

In order to facilitate removal of Pervez Musharraf and
to avoid further chaos in the country by keeping its
institutions intact we urge Pakistanis in general and
Pakistan’s political parties in particular to quickly
form an interim government. The interim government
and events related to its enactment should have the
following features:

1. The interim government should be headed by an
interim president who would hold free and fair general
elections in the shortest span of time.
2. To ensure working of an independent judiciary all
Supreme Court judges deposed on November 3 by Pervez
Musharraf should be restored to their positions.
3. Pakistan Army should stop taking orders from Pervez
Musharraf and current Vice Chief of Army Staff,
General Kayani should immediately take charge of the
forces. General Kayani should work under the interim
4. All political workers and members of legal
fraternity arrested in the wake of emergency should be
5. All bureaucratic institutions with their current
officers should keep functioning under the interim

We urge Pakistani political parties to quickly consent
to an interim president. One choice obvious to many
would be Retired Chief Justice Wajihuddin Ahmed who as
a public servant not only had a spotless career, but
who gained considerable public support while recently
running for President against Pervez Musharraf

Till an interim government through the wishes of
Pakistanis and Pakistan’s political parties takes
command we ask all citizens to commence an indefinite
strike starting from Monday, November 5.

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