Pakistan

Amidst mounting crisis, Pakistan’s new government slashes food and fuel subsidies

By Keith Jones, 16 June 2008

Pakistan’s new coalition government has delivered a big business budget that slashes subsidies for food, fuel oil, electricity, and fertilizer by more than one-quarter—112.2 billion Pakistani Rupees, or $US1.6 billion. The Pakistan People’s Party-led government has also pledged to gradually do away with all price subsidies, except possibly on food.

US continues to defend air strike on Pakistani military post

By Deepal Jayasekera, 13 June 2008

The US government and military have rebuffed Pakistani government protests over Tuesday night’s aerial bombardment of a Pakistani security checkpoint in the Mohmand region in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA). Ostensibly aimed at pro-Taliban insurgents, the US attack, which was carried out by two F-15s and a B-1 bomber, killed 11 Pakistani Frontier Corps troops, including a major, and injured 10, including 3 civilians.

US air strike on Pakistani military post kills 11 soldiers

By K. Ratnayake, 12 June 2008

In a new escalation of US-Pakistan tensions, a US air strike on a Pakistani Frontier Force checkpoint near the Afghan border killed 11 soldiers, including an officer, and wounded 10 people, including three civilians, early Wednesday.

Washington ratchets up pressure on Pakistan’s new government

By Keith Jones, 27 May 2008

In increasingly blunt fashion, Washington is making known its displeasure with Pakistan’s new elected government, which is comprised of parties opposed to the US-backed military strongman and president Pervez Musharraf.

Pakistan’s new coalition government close to breakup

By Keith Jones, 1 May 2008

The dynastic leaders of Pakistan’s two principal political parties—Pakistan People’s Party chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)—held crisis negotiations in Dubai yesterday, with the fate of Pakistan’s new “national consensus” coalition government apparently hanging in the balance.

Pakistan: Textile workers’ protests convulse Multan

By Keith Jones, 19 April 2008

The industrial city of Multan, Pakistan’s sixth largest, was convulsed by protests of textile workers, Monday and Tuesday, angered by repeated power outages that have resulted in pay and job cuts for tens of thousands.

US-Pakistan ties fray, as Washington seeks to bully new government

By Keith Jones, 27 March 2008

US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Richard Boucher, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, arrived in Islamabad early Tuesday, with almost no advanced warning to their Pakistani hosts. Their sudden visit exemplifies the Bush administration’s apprehensions about the change of regime now underway in Pakistan.

Another US strike inside Pakistan’s border region

By Peter Symonds, 19 March 2008

An air strike on Sunday on a compound in the Pakistani tribal area of South Waziristan that borders Afghanistan has left up to 20 people dead. While Washington has not acknowledged responsibility, there is little doubt that the US military or the CIA carried out the attack as part of a widening covert war against anti-American militants entrenched in the Pakistani border areas.

Instability continues in Pakistan following formation of coalition government

By Keith Jones, 12 March 2008

After weeks of factional maneuvering, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) announced Sunday an agreement to form a national coalition government.

Pakistani regime ban of YouTube highlights threat to free Internet

By John Grais, 5 March 2008

On February 22, the Pakistani Telecommunications Authority (PTA) ordered the country’s Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to YouTube, the world’s most popular video web site. Access was completely restored in Pakistan only after four days, amid popular opposition and allegations of electoral fraud.

Pakistan’s leading opposition parties to form national coalition government

By K. Ratnayake and Keith Jones, 23 February 2008

In opposition to the wishes of the Bush administration, Pakistan’s two principal parties, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), agreed Thursday to forge a national coalition government and like coalitions in the country’s four provinces.

Pakistanis overwhelmingly reject US-backed strongman Musharraf

By K. Ratnayake and Keith Jones, 20 February 2008

The Pakistani people overwhelmingly repudiated the US-backed, military-controlled regime of Pervez Musharraf in national and provincial elections held Monday.

Pakistan’s military regime stages sham election

By Keith Jones, 18 February 2008

The elections for Pakistan’s national and provincial assemblies that are to be held today make a mockery of the most elementary democratic principles. They have been organized by the military-controlled government of President Pervez Musharraf, with the backing of the Bush administration, so as to throttle, not further, the democratic aspirations of Pakistan’s toilers.

Scotland Yard’s report on Bhutto assassination

Britain again comes to Musharraf’s aid

By K. Ratnayake and Keith Jones, 16 February 2008

A Scotland Yard investigation team has issued a report on the assassination of two-time Pakistani Prime Minister, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader, and PPP prime ministerial candidate Benazir Bhutto. Although the report is largely politically motivated conjecture—Pakistani authorities had themselves destroyed much of the evidence within hours of the assassination—the regime of embattled dictator Pervez Musharraf and its mentors in the Bush administration have seized on it as proof of their earlier claims that Bhutto’s murder was the work of Al Qaeda and/or the Taliban and them alone.

Mounting calls from Pakistan’s military and judicial establishments for Musharraf to quit

By K. Ratnayake and Keith Jones, 2 February 2008

More than two hundred retired high-ranking Pakistani military officers have unanimously demanded that the country’s president, Pervez Musharraf, resign and hand over his powers to deposed Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, so he can form a “neutral care-taker government” to supervise national elections.

Beleaguered Pakistani President visits Europe to shore up support for military regime

By K. Ratnayake, 28 January 2008

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has been in Europe since January 21, on an eight-day trip aimed at ensuring continued Western support for his discredited and popularly-reviled military regime.

Pentagon chief says US ready to deploy combat troops in Pakistan

By Bill Van Auken, 26 January 2008

The United States is “ready, willing and able” to deploy American combat troops in Pakistan for joint military operations in the country’s troubled border region, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.

Pakistan roiled by flour and electricity shortages, food price rises

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 21 January 2008

Pakistan’s US-backed military dictatorship has mobilized more than six thousand paramilitary troops to guard flour mills and distribution points and escort supply-trucks, as it seeks to staunch a flour shortage that has resulted in breadlines and spiraling prices.

A letter and reply on Pakistan

16 January 2008

The following is an email from Robert Templer, director of the Asian program of the International Crisis Group, regarding the January 7 article “Beleaguered Pakistani president lashes out at critics” and a reply.

Lahore bombing casts pall over Pakistani election

By K. Ratnayake, 12 January 2008

A bomb blast in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore on Thursday has cast fresh doubt over national elections due on February 18. The poll has been delayed once already on the pretext that some election offices were damaged in rioting that followed the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on December 27.

Beleaguered Pakistani president lashes out at critics

By K. Ratnayake, 7 January 2008

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is increasingly a man under siege following the December 27 assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. The official explanation for Bhutto’s death is in tatters, raising further questions about the involvement of sections of the regime in her murder and threatening to spark opposition and protests before national elections that have been postponed to February 18.

Secret White House meeting plans US military escalation in Pakistan

By Bill Van Auken, 7 January 2008

Top members of the Bush administration together with US military commanders and intelligence chiefs met in secret at the White House Friday to draw up plans for stepped-up military intervention in Pakistan, the New York Times reported Sunday.

Pakistani regime announces lengthy election delay

By K. Ratnayake, 3 January 2008

The Pakistani government of President Pervez Musharraf yesterday announced that national elections planned for January 8 would be postponed for six weeks until February 18. The delay, which was criticised by opposition parties, is a desperate attempt to shore up the military regime amid the deepening political turmoil that followed last Thursday’s assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Pakistan: Violent state repression of protests over Bhutto assassination

By Keith Jones, 31 December 2007

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday ordered the military and other security forces to take whatever measures were necessary to quell rioting sparked by last Thursday’s assassination of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader, former prime minister and current prime ministerial candidate Benazir Bhutto.

Bhutto assassination heightens threat of US intervention in Pakistan

By Bill Van Auken, 29 December 2007

With Pakistan erupting in violence over the assassination of its former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and amid conflicting accounts as to both the identity of her assassins and even the cause of her death, official Washington and the American mass media have coalesced around a version of events that has been crafted to suit US strategic interests.

In wake of assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Bush administration rushes to defense of Musharraf

By Keith Jones, 28 December 2007

Pakistan People’s Party “life chairperson” and prime ministerial candidate Benazir Bhutto was assassinated early Thursday evening, Pakistani time, while campaigning for national and provincial assembly elections scheduled for January 8.

Pakistan’s opposition parties capitulate to Musharraf and Bush

By Keith Jones, 14 December 2007

Pakistan’s principal opposition parties and alliances—Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the Pakistan Muslim League of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and the Islamic fundamentalist Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA)—have all announced their intention to participate, and thereby legitimize, the national and provincial assembly elections the US-backed, military-dominated government has called for January 8.

Bush applauds Musharraf as he makes himself Pakistan’s President till 2012

By Keith Jones, 3 December 2007

US President George W. Bush was the first foreign leader to congratulate General Pervez Mushraraf after he had himself sworn in Thursday to a further five-year term as Pakistan’s president.

Bhutto and Sharif decry dictatorship, while seeking a deal with Pakistan’s US-backed military regime

By Keith Jones, 26 November 2007

Pakistan is now in its twenty-third full day of de facto martial law. Basic civil liberties have been suspended. Thousands of government opponents—members of opposition parties, lawyers, human rights activists and trade unionists—remain in detention. Police break up anti-government protests with baton charges and mass arrests on a daily basis and the US-supported, military-dominated government has made civilians who challenge the rule of General President Pervez Musharraf liable to court martial.

US steps up plans for military intervention in Pakistan

By Bill Van Auken, 20 November 2007

In the midst of public statements of support for “democracy” in Pakistan and the recent visit to Islamabad by the American envoy John Negroponte, Washington is quietly preparing for a stepped-up military intervention in the crisis-ridden country.

US envoy lauds Pakistani dictator’s “democratic vision”

By Keith Jones, 19 November 2007

US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte ended a three-day visit to Pakistan, which has been under de facto martial law for the past two weeks, with a press conference Sunday at which he reiterated the Bush administration’s strong support for General Pervez Musharraf and his military regime.

Pakistani regime continues crackdown on opponents

By Peter Symonds, 15 November 2007

Arrests in Pakistan continued yesterday with the detention of opposition leader Imran Khan in the eastern city of Lahore while attending a student protest. Khan, who had been in hiding since military strongman General Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule on November 3, had publicly announced that he would be attending the rally to set a student protest movement in motion.

More in regret than anger

Bhutto calls for Pakistan’s US-backed military strongman to resign

By Keith Jones, 14 November 2007

Pakistan People’s Party life chairperson Benazir Bhutto has been compelled to ratchet up her condemnations of Pakistan’s US-supported military strongman, General Pervez Musharraf, and his martial-law regime.

Bush reaffirms support for Musharraf as Pakistani dictator intensifies military repression

By Joe Kay, 12 November 2007

President George Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed US support for Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf over the weekend, even as the general stepped up the mass repression he launched with the imposition of de facto martial law on November 3.

With tacit US support, Pakistan’s military regime intensifies repression

By Keith Jones, 10 November 2007

Pakistan’s US-backed military regime mounted a massive police operation Friday to stamp out a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) rally called to protest the imposition of martial law.

Deepening political crisis in Pakistan

By Peter Symonds, 9 November 2007

The political crisis in Pakistan continues to mount as supporters of Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) prepare to hold a rally today in the garrison town of Rawalpindi to challenge the imposition of martial law by military strongman President Pervez Musharraf last Saturday.

As Pakistanis risk life and limb to oppose Musharraf, US elite rallies round military regime

By Keith Jones, 7 November 2007

Tens of thousands of Pakistanis have taken to the streets over the past two days—risking arrest, assault and even shooting at the hands of the country’s security forces—in opposition to the imposition of martial law by General Pervez Musharraf’s US-backed military regime.

As Pakistanis battle martial law, US vows continued aid to Musharraf

By Bill Van Auken, 6 November 2007

Protesting lawyers, students and other civilians staged pitched battles with riot police in cities across Pakistan Monday, the third day of the martial law regime imposed by the country’s military strongman General Pervez Musharraf.

With Washington’s complicity, Musharraf imposes martial law in Pakistan

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 5 November 2007

Pakistani military strongman General Pervez Musharraf, a key ally of the Bush administration in its purported “war on terror,” has again bared his fangs. On Saturday evening—as security forces fanned out across Islamabad to occupy the parliament and supreme court buildings, force private television stations off the air, and take oppositionists into “preventive detention”—Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup in October 1999, declared a state of emergency.

Pakistan: Musharraf regime reiterates martial law threat

US-sponsored deal with Bhutto begins to unravel

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 25 October 2007

Pakistan’s US-backed military regime has reiterated its threat to impose martial law should the country’s highest court not give its blessing to General Pervez Musharraf remaining president till 2012.

Bhutto implicates Pakistan’s military-security establishment in assassination attempt

By Keith Jones, 20 October 2007

Some 24 hours after a grenade and a powerful bomb tore through two-time Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s cavalcade through the streets of Karachi, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Bomb blasts hit Bhutto’s return to Pakistan

By Peter Symonds, 19 October 2007

Two bomb blasts last night ripped through huge crowds in the Pakistani city of Karachi gathered to welcome former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who had just returned after eight years in exile.

Washington lauds Pakistan’s sham presidential election

By Keith Jones, 9 October 2007

The Bush administration has lauded the sham election Pakistan’s military regime staged Saturday to extend General Pervez Musharraf’s presidential mandate till the fall of 2012.

Bush, Bhutto accomplices in Pakistan’s sham presidential election

By Keith Jones, 6 October 2007

Pakistan’s Supreme Court issued a judgment Friday that gives a provisional judicial stamp of approval for the sham presidential election the country’s military regime is to stage today with the aim of making General Pervez Musharraf Pakistan’s president till the fall of 2012.

With US backing, Musharraf presses ahead with bogus presidential election

By Keith Jones and Vilani Peiris, 28 September 2007

Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz filed papers with the country’s election commission Thursday nominating military strongman Pervez Musharraf as a candidate for the bogus presidential election to be held October 6.

Musharraf regime seeks to stave off collapse

By Keith Jones, 20 September 2007

A lawyer representing Pakistan’s US-backed military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, told the country’s Supreme Court Tuesday that “if” Musharraf is elected to a second term as president, he will resign as chief of the armed forces before taking the oath of office.

With Washington’s blessing

Pakistani regime mounts massive security operation in Sharif deportation

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 13 September 2007

With the approval of Washington, Pakistan’s US-backed military regime deported former prime minister Nawaz Sharif Monday, just four-and-a-half hours after he returned home from seven years of exile.

US seeks to save Pakistani dictator, thwart democracy

Musharraf-Bhutto negotiations near end-game

By Keith Jones and Vilani Peiris, 6 September 2007

Benazir Bhutto, the “life chairperson” of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and top aides of Pakistan’s military strongman, General Pervez Musharraf, have been meeting in Dubai this week with the aim of hammering out a power-sharing agreement.

US military bombards targets inside Pakistan

By Peter Symonds, 29 August 2007

In an aggressive new step, the US military shelled and destroyed targets across the Afghan border inside Pakistan on Sunday. While it has received scant coverage in the American and international media, the attack foreshadows more extensive US cross-border operations that have the potential to further destabilise Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s uncertain grip on power.

Bush administration threatens military intervention in Pakistan

By Peter Symonds, 21 July 2007

The Bush administration this week signalled a tough new stance on Pakistan, demanding that military strongman General Pervez Musharraf takes action against Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in areas bordering Afghanistan, and threatening US strikes if he failed to do so.

In a stunning rebuke to Musharraf, Supreme Court orders chief justice reinstated

By Keith Jones, 21 July 2007

In a major blow to Pakistani dictator General Pervez Musharraf, the country’s Supreme Court has ordered the immediate reinstatement of suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and the quashing of all charges against him.

Musharraf lauds Lal Masjid massacre

By Keith Jones, 13 July 2007

In a nationally televised address Thursday evening, Pakistan’s US-backed dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, defended the Pakistani military’s storming of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque), threatened military action against any madrassa (Islamic school) “used for extremism,” and promised to strengthen paramilitary and police forces in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Mosque massacre: Washington’s “war on terror” shakes Pakistan

By Bill Van Auken, 11 July 2007

A week-long siege mounted by the Pakistani military against Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in Islamabad ended violently Tuesday in bitter fighting that claimed a heavy loss of life. Citing Pakistani military sources, the Dawn News television network reported that 88 civilians and 12 army commandos had been killed by late Tuesday, as the day-long battle continued.

Surrender or die

Pakistan’s dictator threatens massacre at Islamabad mosque

By Keith Jones, 9 July 2007

General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s US-backed military strongman, said Saturday that the armed Islamic clerics and militants who control Islamabad’s Lal Masjid or Red Mosque must surrender or die.

Bush administration rushes to Pakistani dictator’s aid

By Keith Jones and Vilani Peiris, 22 June 2007

Top Bush administration and Pentagon officials have held intensive consultations with Pakistan’s embattled military regime during the past two weeks with the aim of bolstering the autocratic rule of General Pervez Musharraf and securing increased Pakistani military support in staunching the insurgency against Afghanistan’s US-installed government.

Pakistan’s US-backed dictator lashes out

Repression fails to staunch anti-Musharraf protests

By Keith Jones and Vilani Peiris, 8 June 2007

An air of violence and desperation surrounds Pakistan’s US-backed military regime.

The US media “discovers” Pakistan’s Musharraf is a dictator—why now?

By Keith Jones, 2 June 2007

The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angles Times have all published editorials in recent days taking the Bush administration to task for its unabashed and unequivocal support for Pakistan’s military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf.

US threatened to bomb Pakistan back to “the Stone Age”

By Kranti Kumara and Keith Jones, 27 September 2006

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s revelation that a top US official said Pakistan would be bombed “back to the stone age” if Islamabad didn’t break its ties with the Taliban and provide logistical support to the US conquest of Afghanistan is yet another example of the mobster methods that have come to characterize US diplomacy, especially under the Bush administration.

Bush reaffirms support for Pakistani dictator

By Keith Jones, 26 August 2006

US President George W. Bush made a demonstrative show of US support for Pakistan’s military strongman, Pervez Musharraf, Wednesday—the very day that the bourgeois opposition launched a campaign to end seven years of military rule.

Pakistan’s US-backed dictator to stage bogus presidential election

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 29 June 2006

General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s US-backed military strongman, has signaled that he will orchestrate a bogus presidential election next year in a bid to cling onto power until 2012.

Bush’s public slap in the face to Pakistan’s president

By Vilani Peiris, 11 March 2006

US President George Bush ended his high-profile tour to South Asia last Saturday with a 24-hour trip to Pakistan that proved to be an acute political embarrassment for President Pervez Musharraf. Having gone out of his way to secure closer relations with India, Pakistan’s long-time rival, Bush delivered what amounted to a thinly disguised public rebuke to the Pakistani military strongman.

Bush visit to Pakistan will intensify Musharraf’s crisis

By Peter Symonds, 4 March 2006

US President George Bush arrived in Pakistan last night amid heavy security and a series of anti-US protests in cities across the country. While the main purpose of the one-day trip is to help shore up the shaky regime of President Pervez Musharraf, the Bush administration is directly responsible for much of the political turmoil confronting the Pakistani military strongman.

Pakistani protests over anti-Muslim cartoons threaten Musharraf’s rule

By Deepal Jayasekera, 23 February 2006

Ongoing protests in Pakistan against the provocative Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed have increasingly been directed against the ruling regime and the US, as well as European countries where the images have been published. The demonstrations not only complicate US President George Bush’s planned visit to Islamabad next month, but also threaten the position of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Pakistan: anger mounts against Musharraf in wake of US air strike

By James Cogan, 19 January 2006

Outrage in Pakistan over the US air strike on the border village of Damadola, which killed as many as 18 men, women and children, has been aggravated by the reaction in Washington.

US bombing in northern Pakistan: an act of imperialist recklessness

By James Cogan, 16 January 2006

The US air strike carried out on January 13 on the isolated village of Damadola, near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, was as reckless as it was criminal. At least 18 civilians were killed, including five women and five children, further inflaming already high political and social tensions inside Pakistan.

Pakistan: Bush ally Musharraf mounts terror campaign against telecommunication workers

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 18 June 2005

More than a thousand Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) workers have been arrested in the six days since the country’s US-backed military regime ordered army and paramilitary forces to seize control of the state-owned company’s key installations.

Pakistani troops seize telephone network, strike leaders arrested

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 13 June 2005

Pakistani troops and other security personnel seized control of at least 150 Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) installations spread across the country on the evening of Saturday June 11. The army action, which saw heavily armed troops storm into PTCL facilities and expel the unionized workforce, came shortly after Pakistan’s US-supported military regime fixed June 18 as the date for selling off a major chunk of the state-owned telephone company’s shares.

Pakistani workers revolt against PTCL privatization

Security forces poised to attack occupation

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 4 June 2005

Workers at Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL)—who have been occupying the company’s Islamabad headquarters and other facilities since May 25—are threatening to sever the country’s communications network next Monday, unless Pervez Musharraf’s military government abandons its plans to privatize what is Pakistan’s largest and most profitable public-sector enterprise.

31 January 2005

In a show of bravado, Pakistan’s military-dictator president quipped he had nine lives after two sophisticated attempts on his life in December 2003. Yet 12 months later, Pervez Musharraf reneged on his pledge to step down as head of Pakistan’s armed forces by the end of 2004 and announced he shall remain chief of Pakistan’s Armed Services, as well as the country’s president, till at least 2007. Clearly the general—a man the Bush administration has repeatedly touted as a key ally in the “war on terrorism”—doubts he has many lives left.

13 December 2004

US President George W. Bush has again lavished praise on Pervez Musharraf, declaring himself “very pleased with” the “efforts” of Pakistan’s military strongman. Bush met with Musharraf December 4, just four days after the official who was serving as Pakistan’s acting president while Musharraf visited Europe and the Americas signed into law legislation that allows Musharraf to continue as both the country’s military chief and its president.

10 November 2004

With the backing of the United States, Britain and other western powers, Pakistan’s military dictator-president, General Pervez Musharraf, has staged-managed events so he can claim that he is bowing to the “people’s wishes” when he renounces a pledge to step down as head of Pakistan’s armed forces.

Musharraf imposes former Citibank official as Pakistan’s prime minister

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 3 September 2004

Pakistan’s US-backed military strongman, president and armed forces chief Pervez Musharraf, has orchestrated the installation of Shaukat Aziz, a former top official at New York’s Citibank, as the country’s prime minister.

Sectarian violence in Pakistan’s commercial capital

By Vilani Peiris, 24 June 2004

Karachi—Pakistan’s main commercial and industrial hub—has been rocked by a wave of sectarian violence in May and early June. More than 60 people have been killed and hundreds wounded. While the city has been hit by bloodletting between Shiite- and Sunni-based groups before, the latest round is the worst in recent years.

Pakistan and Zimbabwe: a tale of two autocrats

By Rick Kelly, 26 May 2004

Following a meeting of its Ministerial Action Group in London on Saturday, the British Commonwealth lifted the suspension imposed on Pakistan following the country’s 1999 military coup. Ignoring all evidence to the contrary, the Commonwealth declared that “progress [has been] made in restoring democracy and rebuilding democratic institutions in Pakistan”.

US seeks Pakistani military support for Afghan and Iraqi occupations

By Vilani Peiris, 22 May 2004

Bogged down in a deepening quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush administration has made a series of appeals to Pakistan for military and political assistance in both countries. However, any steps by President Pervez Musharraf to accede to the US requests will only further fuel opposition within Pakistan and compound the political difficulties his regime confronts.

US-backed military offensive in Pakistan costs scores of lives

By Peter Symonds, 23 March 2004

A week of fierce fighting between 6,000 heavily-armed Pakistani troops and suspected Islamist militants in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan has resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. The army has surrounded an estimated 400 to 500 fighters entrenched in a number of heavily fortified mud brick structures in South Waziristan and has been pounding the area using artillery, helicopter gunships and combat aircraft.

Amid mounting political crisis

Pakistan’s military dictator survives assassination attempt

By Keith Jones, 23 December 2003

Pakistan’s military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, narrowly escaped assassination December 14 when a bridge was almost levelled by multiple bombs just seconds after his motorcade passed over it. In a show of bravado, Musharraf has downplayed the seriousness of the assassination attempt, but its sophistication strongly suggests the involvement of elements within Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment.

Pakistan extends ban on Islamic groups

By Vilani Peiris, 8 December 2003

Under pressure from Washington, Pakistan’s military-backed regime last month extended its ban on Islamic fundamentalist organisations to include six new groups and carried out an extensive police crackdown against their membership.

Pakistan intensifies military operations in Afghan border areas

By Vilani Peiris, 4 November 2003

Responding to pressure from Washington, Pakistan has been engaged in extensive military operations for the last month to prevent groups of armed fighters crossing its border into Afghanistan. Both the US military and the Afghan government had accused Pakistan of failing to take sufficient measures to prevent anti-US forces from conducting hit-and-run raids inside Afghanistan.

Pakistan delays sending troops to Iraq

By K. Ratnayake, 21 July 2003

Nearly a month after agreeing “in principle” to sending troops to Iraq, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has yet to reach a final arrangement with Washington on the “modalities” of such an arrangement. Behind the drawn-out delays are deep concerns in Islamabad over the potential for a Pakistani force to become bogged down in the US-led occupation, triggering opposition at home.

US imposes sanctions on Pakistani nuclear firm

By Vilani Peiris, 21 April 2003

In an unexpected move, the Bush administration has imposed two-year sanctions on Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), a Pakistani company, accusing it of importing missiles from the state-owned Changgwang Sinyong Corp of North Korea (CSCNK). Similar sanctions were imposed on the North Korean company last August, which have now been extended to March 2005.

Antiwar protests in Pakistan rattle the Musharraf regime

By Vilani Peiris, 15 March 2003

Large antiwar protests in Pakistani cities over the past two weekends have further undermined the increasingly shaky position of military strongman President Pervez Musharraf. His administration is caught between pressure from Washington for Pakistan to support a resolution in the UN Security Council giving the go ahead for military action, on the one hand, and the popular sentiment against any war, on the other.

US military insists on right of “hot pursuit” inside Pakistan

By Sarath Kumara, 22 January 2003

Following a shoot-out involving the US military on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border on December 29, Washington is insisting that its troops continue to be permitted to cross into Pakistan in “hot pursuit” of alleged Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters.

Islamic extremists come to power in two Pakistani provinces

By Vilani Peiris, 12 December 2002

In the wake of the October national elections in Pakistan, an alliance of Islamic fundamentalist parties, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), has assumed power in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) for the first time in three decades. In the neighbouring province of Baluchistan, the MMA has struck a deal with the Pakistani Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam (PML-QA)—the party of Pakistan’s military strongman Pervez Musharraf—to form a coalition government.

Pakistan parliament convened but no government formed

By Vilani Peiris, 19 November 2002

More than a month after national elections on October 10, Pakistani military strongman General Pervez Musharraf finally convened the National Assembly last weekend, where newly elected MPs took the oath of office. Musharraf, who secured a vote of support in what was widely regarded as a rigged referendum earlier in the year, was sworn in for a five-year term as president. But the whole affair, which was meant to demonstrate that Pakistan was returning to civilian rule, was a charade.

Pakistani election reveals growing opposition to Musharraf

By Vilani Peiris, 24 October 2002

Pakistan’s ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, held carefully stage-managed national elections on October 10 in an effort to provide his military regime with a measure of political legitimacy. The results, however, and the low voter turnout reveal a growing hostility to the US-backed junta and to the continued presence of US troops, police and CIA agents in the country as part of the Bush administration’s “war on terrorism”.

Pakistani strongman imposes anti-democratic constitutional changes

By Vilani Peiris, 5 September 2002

Pakistan’s military ruler General Pervez Musharraf has imposed 29 sweeping constitutional changes that make a mockery of his claims to be returning the country to democratic rule through general elections scheduled for October 10. The amendments enacted by presidential fiat on August 21 ensure that Musharraf and the military will continue to hold effective power, whatever the outcome of the poll.

Anti-democratic measures guarantee Pakistan’s election will be a sham

By Vilani Peiris, 30 July 2002

Pakistan’s military ruler General Pervez Musharraf has announced National and Provincial assembly elections for October 10 in a bid to give his regime a democratic veneer and a degree of legitimacy. But a series of sweeping constitutional changes and presidential decrees announced over the last month ensure that Musharraf, not parliament, will wield power after the elections. The military junta is setting the rules for the election and at the same time ensuring that those elected will have no significant say in the running of the country.

Musharaff gives go-ahead for US military operations in Pakistan

By Vilani Peiris and Sarath Kumara, 9 May 2002

Under intense pressure from Washington, Pakistan’s military strongman General Pervez Musharraf has given the green light for US troops to operate inside the country alongside local army forces in pursuing so-called Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects.

Pakistan’s sham referendum endorses Musharraf as president

By Vilani Peiris, 7 May 2002

Pakistani authorities have declared that last week’s referendum has overwhelmingly endorsed General Pervez Musharraf for a five-year term as president. The result was a transparent sham that surprised nobody and has further discredited the military strongman who seized power in a coup in October 1999.

Pakistan’s military ruler holds referendum to tighten grip on power

By Joseph Kay, 30 April 2002

With the support of the Bush administration, Pakistan’s military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, is staging a national referendum today to give a popular fig leaf to his continued rule.

Pakistani leader faces an uncertain future as protests continue

By Vilani Peiris, 16 October 2001

US Secretary of State Colin Powell flew into Pakistan yesterday in an effort to ensure the military junta’s continuing support for the US bombardment of neighbouring Afghanistan. The regime headed by General Pervez Musharraf is treading a fine line as it faces daily protests against the US air strikes in the major cities and calls by Islamic fundamentalist parties for the ousting of the administration.

A combustible political situation in Pakistan

By Vilani Peiris, 5 October 2001

As the US prepares for war in Afghanistan, the military junta in Pakistan headed by General Pervez Musharraf is facing an increasingly volatile domestic situation, with protests against his support for Washington continuing to mount.

Pakistan’s military regime rallies to US war coalition

By Keith Jones, 25 September 2001

Faced with an ultimatum from Washington, Pakistan’s military regime has scuttled its alliance with the Taliban and given permission for US military forces to attack Afghanistan from Pakistani territory.

Pakistani junta arrests hundreds in crackdown on opposition parties

By Vilani Peiris, 3 April 2001

Pakistan's military regime headed by General Pervez Musharraf carried out a widespread crackdown on opposition parties to prevent a protest rally in the provincial capital of Lahore on March 23—Pakistan Day—calling for the restoration of parliamentary democracy and early national elections.

Pakistani regime shuts newspaper and charges editors with blasphemy

By Vilani Peiris, 26 February 2001

Under the pressure of Islamic fundamentalist groups, Pakistan's military regime headed by General Pervez Musharraf has arrested the editor and other staff members of the English language daily, the Frontier Post, over the publication of an email insulting to Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Those arrested face the death sentence or life imprisonment under the country's reactionary blasphemy law.

Pakistani regime allows jailed prime minister Sharif to go into exile

By Vilani Peiris, 19 December 2000

In a suddenly announced move on December 10, Pakistan's military regime released the ousted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from jail and sent him into exile in Saudi Arabia. As part of the deal, Sharif has agreed to keep out of politics while in exile and to forfeit more than $10 million in land, bank accounts and industrial property. While Sharif has been formally pardoned, he remains disqualified from holding public office for 21 years.

One year after the Musharraf coup

A beleaguered Pakistan military regime faces mounting criticism

By Vilani Peiris, 21 November 2000

Last month marked one year since General Pervez Musharraf ousted the elected Pakistani government, arrested prime minister Nawaz Sharif and installed his own military regime. Accusing the previous government of corruption and ruining the economy, Musharraf promised to bring economic progress and political stability, eradicate poverty, build investor confidence and restore democracy as quickly as possible.

Pakistan military junta's first budget meets opposition at home and abroad

By Vilani Peiris, 31 July 2000

The Pakistani military government's first annual budget, presented last month, points to the volatile situation that General Pervez Musharraf's junta now faces.

A decision to suit the military junta:

Former Pakistan prime minister sentenced to life imprisonment

By Vilani Peiris, 7 April 2000

Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was sentenced yesterday to life imprisonment on two charges—hijacking and terrorism—and acquitted on other charges, including attempted murder and kidnapping. Judge Rehmat Hussain Jafri, presiding in an anti-terrorism court, also ordered that Sharif's property be confiscated and that Sharif pay $37,000 in compensation and $18,500 in fines. He dismissed the charges against Sharif's six co-defendants, including his brother.