Syed Haider Shahbaz (UWC AC 2005-2007)
Pakistan is on the brink: unpopular president General Pervez Musharraf has imposed a state of emergency, sacked the Supreme Court, shut down the media and basic freedoms, and imprisoned democratic opposition leaders. The general blames his actions on an imagined coalition of terrorists and independent-minded judges — but his real fear may be losing absolute power.
Elections are planned for January 2008 — they must not be postponed. But martial law and the imprisonment of democratic opposition leaders don’t make for a free and fair vote either. So we’re calling on the international community — particularly the US Congress, which has voted Musharraf billions of dollars in military aid over the last six years — to use all its leverage for swift elections and restoring constitutional protections.
General Musharraf claims that martial law is necessary to combat extremist terror. But it just doesn’t add up. His emergency powers are being directed only against the democratic opposition, free press and judiciary – just days before a scheduled ruling on whether Musharraf could run for president while remaining army chief. In an August poll, too, Pakistanis rated “ensuring an independent judiciary, free press and free elections” as their top priority.
Right now, leaders around the world are deciding how to respond. The General is dressing up his crackdown in the rhetoric of “anti-terrorism” because Musharraf and his military supporters depend on foreign military aid and international recognition to maintain their legitimacy. That’s why we have to speak out now.
The world can’t ignore the threat of chaos in Pakistan, or the voices of our fellow democrats there. Let’s come together as we did on Burma, and move our governments to act. In these crucial early days, the voice of the world’s people has tremendous power. Let’s use it.
Click below to sign our petition immediately, and then tell your friends so they can do the same
– United World College Student Magazine –