Saturday, December 8, 2007

Upcoming Events

MONDAY 10th - International Human Rights Day declared a black day - Lahore High Court ( protest and procession) 12:00pm

SAC sit in and hunger strike today




In Complete Solidarity,
CCP Team

CODEPink Activist Barry arrested in United States

On December 6, Tighe Barry, a CODEPINK activist who along with Medea Benjamin was deported from Pakistan at gunpoint for supporting pro-democracy forces, was arrested at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on US Assistance to Pakistan. Barry and Benjamin, deported on December 5, flew directly to Washington DC to attend this hearing. They had asked for the opportunity to testify about their firsthand experience with the heroism of Pakistan’s civil society and the brutality of the government, but were told that the witnesses had already been selected.

The first to testify was Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs. His testimony was infuriating to Barry, Benjamin and the 10 other CODEPINK activists who were in attendance and holding up signs saying “No Money To Musharraf”. Mr. Boucher gave the impression that Pakistan was on the path to democracy and that our billions of dollars in assistance was being well used. He called the state of emergency a mere “bump in the road.” The travesty of sacking the independent Supreme Court judges and replacing them with Musharraf allies was called a “Supreme Court reshuffling.” While admitting that the elections would not be “perfect,” he asserted that the State Department was working closely with Pakistani officials to ensure that the elections are free, fair, transparent and credible.

He went on to say that democracy also requires accountable government institutions, including an independent judiciary, protection of individual human rights, a free and dynamic press, an atmosphere promoting open debate, and a vibrant civil society. “Pakistan is making progress toward those goals,” he claimed.

Having just witnessed firsthand the thuggery of Musharraf’s regime, Barry could not believe his ears. He stood up in protest, saying that the Assistant Secretary’s testimony was full of lies. “Musharraf has beaten lawyers and students, destroyed the judiciary, and censored the press,” said Barry. “The U.S. must freeze all funding to this military government until emergency rule is lifted, the independent judiciary is reinstated, the censorship of the media is lifted, and all judges, lawyers, students and human rights defenders are released.” Barry was pulled out of the room, handcuffed, and put in a paddywagon. “I felt compelled to do this for the sake of my friends in Pakistan,” he said, as they took him away. “Pakistanis risk their lives standing up to their government; I have to stand up to mine.” Barry was cited and released, and must appear in Court on December 27 to face charges of Disorderly Conduct.

For interviews contact: Tighe Barry, 310-920-8248 or

Student Action Committee, civil society protest arrest of students

Around 100 students from the Student Action Committee Lahore gathered outside the Camp Jail on Ferozepur Road on Friday afternoon, to protest the arrest of their colleagues from outside Justice Shahid Siddiqui's house on Thursday night. The students were joined by several people from the academic and legal community and civil society groups, including Syed Muhammad Shah, Lahore Bar Association president Firdaus Butt, Lahore High Court Bar Association Vice President and Justice (r) Nasira Javaid Iqbal, who were present in support of their cause. The protestors chanted slogans demanding the release of their fellow students who had committed no known crime, as well as slogans chastising the brutality of the Musharraf regime and his puppet judges, on whose orders the arrests had taken place. They also distributed flyers, posters and stickers amongst the ongoing traffic, from within which many people stopped to join the procession.
The protestors vowed not to discontinue their vigil until the students and other activists were released.
After dispersing, the students chalked up plans to continue their protest in the form of a hunger strike at the Press Club on Saturday.

'Germany against emergency rule, judges' ouster and media curbs'

* German counsel general in Karachi says Germany has asked for restoration of democracy from day one

Courtesy, Daily Times
Staff Report

German Counsel General in Karachi Hans-Joachim Kiderlen said on Thursday that Germany did not endorse either the emergency rule in Pakistan or other controversial measures, such as the ouster of Supreme Court judges, the curbs imposed on the media and mass arrests of political leaders and activists.

Speaking at a Quetta Press Club 'meet the press' programme, he said the German government was as critical of the imposition of emergency in the country as any other country in the world. However, due to insufficient communication and the language barrier, some segments of society believed the German government's reaction had been soft and not too critical of the present regime. Restore democracy: "We have not maintained double standards with regards to the situation in Pakistan. We have asked for the restoration of democracy from day one," Kiderlen said.
The German diplomat appreciated Pakistan's role in the war against terrorism and extremism. For this reason particularly, he said a strong, stable and democratic Pakistan was in the greater interest of the region and the international community. We are confident that the emergency will be lifted soon and Pakistan will return to normalcy," he said.
Kiderlen told Daily Times after the event that the government of Pakistan had invited international observers to monitor the elections in the country. But, there were signs, he said, that observers would not come to the country under the present circumstances. "Some NGOs might send their observers to Pakistan but the European Union's official observers are yet to decide if they will monitor the January polls. CHances are very rare that they will.
The envoy adopted a very diplomatic tone when asked to comment on the prevailing situation in Balochistan. Though the government of Germany is constantly following development in the province, including the issue of forced disappearances, it would not like to take up the matter directly at a government-to government level, he said. "We can't interfere into the domestic issues of Pakistan.

"Germany is interested in undertaking more welfare projects in the health and education sectors in Balochistan, said Kiderlen. Three schools and one hospital are already receiving funds from Germany, he added.

Congressmen show support for lawyers and the movement

By Khalid Hasan

Compared to just two congressman who turned up on Wednesday to listen to the image repair team led by Dr Nasim Ashraf on Capitol Hill, a parallel meeting organised by a coalition of Pakistani-American organisations attracted seven congressmen and a senator who delivered fiery speeches calling for the supremacy of the rule of law in Pakistan.The 'Pakistan Day on the Hill' was organised by the Coalition of Concerned Citizens led by the Asian American Network against Abuse of Human Rights (ANAA) and made up of seven like-minded organisations. They were addressed by a bipartisan group of legislators namely Representatives Harry E Mitchell, Zoe Lofgren, Bill Delahunt, Steve J Israel, Nita Lowey, Trent Franks, Nick Joe Rahall, and Senator Claire McCaskell.

Malik praised: Lofgren called for the restoration of the deposed judges and expressed praise for former Supreme Court Bar Association president Munir Malik, who was his classmate at a US law school. He recalled that Malik had left a lucrative career in this country to return to Pakistan. He said the way lawyers had been treated in Pakistan was an outrage. He reminded Pakistanis that the voice of Bush is not the voice of all America. He called for free and fair elections in Pakistan and the restoration of the rule of law.
Lofgren said, "How can a nation fight terrorism unless it respects the due process of law. She said what the lawyers of Pakistan have done has become a role model for everyone, and not necessarily in Pakistan, but everywhere else. She said the United States should not base its policy on the basis of short-term gain and temporary alliances. She observed that the US has failed the people of Pakistan as it has fallen short of upholding its own standards. The people of Pakistan, she added, are not extremists and they deserve support in their democratic struggle.

'Epic' democratic struggle: Delahhunt, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said the people of Pakistan are engaged in an epic democratic struggle. He said he was a lawyer by profession himself, adding, "and I am so proud of Pakistani lawyers for speaking up. It bespoke well of this noble profession because they showed courage and honoured the very spirit of law." He declared, "Let me assure Pakistan's lawyers that we will stand by them and we will continue to monitor the situation. The real Unite States will stand up for human rights.
Rep Lowey, who chairs the powerful appropriations committee, recalled her visit to Pakistan this summer but confessed that she was taken aback by the events of November 3 when a state of emergency was declared by Gen (r) Musharraf. She said she "passionately" feels about the issue of democracy in Pakistan and supports those waging the present struggle.
Rep Israel said voices of dissent in Pakistan are being "squelched". In his view, the reinstatement of the judiciary is "very important." He compared the new oath taken by some Pakistani judges to an oath taken in October 1936 by German judges, in which they expressed their allegiance not to the German constitution but to Adolf Hitler. "If you lose your judges, you lose your freedom. For society to progress, an independent judiciary is a must." He said he had visited Pakistan with a congressional delegation and met Musharraf, who had asked Congress to "support me". That, he added, made it clear "that Musharraf was placing himself over his people."
Rep Franks called Pakistan a vital and crucial US partner in the fight against terrorism. The people of Pakistan are committed to the rule of law and constitutional government. Musharraf, he added, had done some good things but he had made a "terrible error" by destabilising the constitution and the very foundations of Pakistan. It is not a good situation, he added, in a\ncountry with a nuclear arsenal that can be seized by the wrong people, although Pakistan's nuclear weapons are well protected for the present. He called for "government by law not by whim."
Rep Rahall called Pakistan a friend and ally in the war on terror. "What should be important to America is the country, not the individual," he stressed –a reference to Bush's support for President Musharraf. He regretted the firing of Pakistani judges and said that no American president, regardless of how much he disliked some judges, could fire them. The American people would not allow that. Senator McCaskell told the meeting that there could be no freedom without the rule of law. She said America wants a strong relationship with Pakistan, but with a Pakistan that respects the rule of law. She assured those struggling for democracy that "we stand with you shoulder to shoulder".

Organization of the Mauritius petition

This is a small account of how signature campaign was organized atMauritius

The outcome of any fight depends most of all, only on ORGANIZATION.For the benefit of students active in this heroic campaign, I will give here briefly, the manner in which the message was prepared here in Mauritius. Hopefully, students and campaigners everywhere will be able to benefit from our short and limited experience.
Since I came here [Mauritius, Africa] I have given three or so talks to the politicalstudies society at the University of Mauritius concerning the situation inPakistan. I kept keeping regular contact with leftist and pan-African-ist student groups here. The "campaign" was preceded bythree or so days of meetings with the memberships of these groups,and kept a few meetings at my flat, at which the points of themessage were hammered out and gained approval of these points.Following that we organized four volunteer groups of two or three students each, which would spend three days collecting signaturesfrom the two largest universities here.\
We worked through the student's unions of these universities. At the campuses, (two at each campus) one group would set up atable, and a music system playing bob Marley nonstop and onewould grab the megaphone after an interval of every half hour or so(throat still hasn't recovered) the other would be roaming around collecting signatures.
After that it was all legwork. After collecting these signatures, we mailed a copy to the PM'soffice, and a "guerrilla group" went to the Pakistani highcommission to hand in the message in person. Before hand, we printedtwo or three huge posters containing the main resolutions andslogans and pasted it on the walls.Just eight or nine of us, but ORGANIZED. (and very expensive on my phone bill).
Without organization, the people have nothing.

In Solidarity,
Ahmed Khan

Picture of Police baton charge on students protest in Islamabad

Police baton-charge students rally- (Islamabad Thursday)

(Courtesy The News)

Hundreds of people including students, lawyers, political activistsand members of the civil society staged a protest demonstrationagainst the government policies and demanded restoration of deposedjudges and lifting of ban on Geo TV.The activists of Joint Students Movement and people belonging todifferent walks of life gathered at Aabpara Chowk and startedchanting slogans against the government.Police resorted to baton charge to disperse the mob when theyreached near Aabpara Police Station causing injuries to manyprotesters. Angry people hurled stones at police and damaged twopolice vehicles while two police officials including the driver of apolice vehicle were injured.Meanwhile, crackdown against lawyers, students and key politicalleaders of opposition has been launched to counter increasing trendof protest demonstrations for independence of media and judiciary.“People involved in breaching peace would be held,” SSP IslamabadKaleem Imam said when contacted for his comments, adding thatmiscreants would be arrested to maintain order in the metropolis.The SSP said, “I do not want to spoil the peaceful atmosphere ofIslamabad but those found creating law and order situation will notbe spared.” He added that miscreants pelted stones and injured twopolice officials and damaged police vehicles in Tuesday rally.“Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who is scheduled to meet thedeposed Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad ChaudhryThursday (today), will be intercepted at borderline of ‘Red Zone’and will not be allowed to cross the line,” an officer responsiblefor maintaining law and order, told when contacted.A list of over 100 lawyers, student leaders, political activists andmembers of civil society have been handed over to the raiding parties, sources told 'The News'.

Police parties kept raiding the house of lawyers including President Islamabad Bar, Haroon-ur-Rasheed and former President Bar Tariq Jahangiri. However, no arrest was made till the filing of this report.Security at barriers set on the way to Judicial Colony has been beefed up to intercept leader of PML-N Mian Nawaz Sharif and hundreds of personnel of law enforcing agencies have been deployed in and around the Colony.
Online adds: Hundreds of students observed protest day on Wednesday against the imposition of emergency and curbs on media and judiciary and clashed with police while marching towards the house of sackedSC chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to present flowers to him. The students wanted to present flowers to the deposed SC chief justice but were stopped by the federal and the Punjab police in front of GPO. The police baton-charged the rally to disburse the protestors. The students in reply also pelted stones at the police. Earlier, the students belonging to Joint Student Movement, Islami Jamiat Talba and different colleges and universities of the capital protested in front of Rawalpindi-Islamabad Press Club camp office. Addressing the protestors, President RIUJ Afzal Butt said that after the journalists and lawyers, the students are also joining the movement for the restoration of the judiciary and in the favour of free media and the movement would be continued until the restoration of pre-November 3 situation. The rally was participated by Islami Jamiat Talba, Islamic University, Quaid-e-Azam University, Joint Student Movement, Gordon College, Punjab College, NUML and Asghar Mall College.

Pakistan PCOed

By Naeem Sadiq
Dawn, December 03, 2007

As the president took an oxymoronic oath on the "nowhere to be seen" 1973 Constitution, administered by an ever too keen Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) Chief Justice, a $60m Lear jet landed at Islamabad airport to become the fourteenth aircraft of the VVIP fleet that caters to the travelling comforts of the leadership of Pakistan.
Besides a convoluted order of priority, is there a direct relationship between the number of expensive VVIP aeroplanes and respect for the Constitution in a country?
How come a country conspicuous by the absence of a decent education, health or public transport system for its ordinary citizens, be so disproportionately sympathetic to the well being and luxuries of its leaders? Perhaps these aeroplanes support tasks of supreme national importance, such as the Frontier governor's weekend partridge hunting visits to Nawabshah. After all we don't expect him to be travelling by Khyber Mail or Chenab Express.
No wonder there is a long queue of people, ever so ready to rattle out oaths for such cushy jobs. The contents and the legality of such oaths is a matter that should interest only the finicky lawyers, the chattering journalists or the emailing civil society.
Pakistan has been badly PCOed and trapped in a tortuous cobweb of illegalities. The 'emergency' itself is illegal. It was promulgated by a person not authorised to do so. The Constitution cannot be suspended. Anyone doing so, must be given a fair trial under Article 6, instead of being upgraded to the post of the president. Can we have a president and a prime minister who take oath under a 'non-existent' constitution?
Having done so, they could at best be referred to as 'non-existent' president and prime minister. It is on record that within the first few hours of its promulgation, the seven member Supreme Court bench had declared the PCO as illegal and extra-constitutional. Thus the judges who took oath on the PCO and subsequently administered it to many other individuals can also be suitable candidates for a fair application of Article 6 of the Constitution.

Pakistan and its people find themselves torn and ravaged by the man-made disaster inflicted upon them on the afternoon of Nov 3. Do we continue to retain our citizenship, after the country itself has renounced its own Constitution? Do we even continue to remain a country which gives up on the core document that defines its nationhood -- almost like denying its own existence?For how long will the people of Pakistan continue to be PCOed? Why must Pakistan and its people suffer such humiliating global indignity and such demeaning personal assaults? They must put an end to the PCOing of their lives, once and for all. They must refuse to vote for political parties that find it politically expedient to support such unconstitutional arrangements. For sixty years the judiciary and the political parties have extracted their pound of flesh from each PCO. They have regularised, validated, supported and even appreciated each arriving PCO. It is only now, and for the first time that a sizeable number of judges have taken a clear and firm stand of saying 'No to PCO'. If the citizens of Pakistan do not rally behind their call, we must be ready to live with a fresh five yearly PCO for the rest of our lives. Pakistan is suffering from an acute disease of compulsive constitutionlessness. The citizens of Pakistan must intervene to save this country. The politicians will not do so. They are only awaiting the next oath taking ceremony that would clear the way for their endless global junkets and Umrahs at the tax payers' expense, aboard the 14 luxury aeroplanes parked in the VVIP section of Islamabad airport.Pakistan and its people find themselves torn and ravaged by the man-made disaster inflicted upon them on the afternoon of Nov 3. Do we continue to retain our citizenship, after the country itself has renounced its own Constitution? Do we even continue to remain a country which gives up on the core document that defines its nationhood -- almost like denying its own existence?
For how long will the people of Pakistan continue to be PCOed? Why must Pakistan and its people suffer such humiliating global indignity and such demeaning personal assaults? They must put an end to the PCOing of their lives, once and for all. They must refuse to vote for political parties that find it politically expedient to support such unconstitutional arrangements. For sixty years the judiciary and the political parties have extracted their pound of flesh from each PCO. They have regularised, validated, supported and even appreciated each arriving PCO. It is only now, and for the first time that a sizeable number of judges have taken a clear and firm stand of saying 'No to PCO'. If the citizens of Pakistan do not rally behind their call, we must be ready to live with a fresh five yearly PCO for the rest of our lives.
Pakistan is suffering from an acute disease of compulsive constitutionlessness. The citizens of Pakistan must intervene to save this country. The politicians will not do so. They are only awaiting the next oath taking ceremony that would clear the way for their endless global junkets and Umrahs at the tax payers' expense, aboard the 14 luxury aeroplanes parked in the VVIP section of Islamabad airport.

Victims of conscience - The News _ Editorial Dec 6

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The serving of notices to the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) by police in Lahore on Tuesday, informing the administration that at least four faculty members and two students were wanted for questioning regarding charges against them under regulations against assembly and for disturbing public order, indicates that the authorities are unwilling to abandon their ruthless crushing of dissent. The police tactics are part of an obvious effort to intimidate the staff and students at LUMS who have been engaged in civil society's protests against emergency rule and the measures taken under it, since November 3.Barricades were erected on Tuesday outside the university gates to prevent students joining the daily protest for civil liberties held outside the Lahore Press Club. Till now, different groups of students had been taking part in the hunger strike camp set up by journalists and the rallies organized there. A senior police official is also reported to have visited the LUMS campus, and warned people present not to take part in any further protest action, as there were already FIRs against them. The police action created considerable panic on campus – as indeed, it was intended to do. Rumours, which later proved unfounded, of arrests from the campus, added to this. It is obvious that the charges, which include that of wall-chalking, levelled against senior faculty members and students are absurd. It has also been apparent that the involvement of students, not only from LUMS but also other educational institutions, against the curtailment of basic liberties, have taken police by surprise, and fears that the movement could quickly widen have led to the latest acts of harassment.

The fact is that the students, and indeed the professors at LUMS, deserve applause for standing up in favour of civil society and against dictatorship and imposition of emergency rule in the country. That they are now being punished for their stance reflects the true face of authority today in Pakistan. But the fact also is that the protests that have been flickering across civil society, with vigils outside the homes of judges, at the offices of banned television channels and at other places will not easily die away. The 'renaming' of a busy city square along Lahore's Mall Road after deposed chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry by students and lawyers on Dec 4 is just one example of the innovative, and colourful, dimensions assumed by this unusual protest movement. Cowardly actions, such as those taken by police at LUMS, will not be able to easily crush the ongoing campaign. Indeed, the police presence outside the university best depicts the situation of this tussle between state and a peaceful civil society, which has so far refused to be cowed down by the tactics used against it. And, the involvement of students in this effort highlights the fact that Pakistan is fortunate to have young citizens who care deeply enough about their country to stand up for the rights and freedoms of its citizens, even in the face of heavy-handed state repression.

Other Pakistan and Project USA

Other Pakistan has been busy fighting Musharraf’s martial law by moving the US Senate and Congress to put pressure on Musharraf. Its founder Wasim Arif has contacted every Senator in the US Senate and selected members of the US Congress with the following email:

Dear Senator

This is an appeal from Other Pakistan to ask for the support of the great American people as well as our American friends in the US Senate and Congress in saving Pakistan from the brink of disaster. I urge you to follow the lead given by the American Bar Association (ABA) who have announced a solidarity march to the US Supreme Court this week. The ABA has chosen to stand tall with the lawyers and judiciary of Pakistan, its President William Neukom reminding us all that ‘when a nation’s constitution is suspended, and its Supreme Court is shut down, that is a blow to the rule of law everywhere’. American leaders should not and cannot and remain oblivious to this fact.

Another great American Reverend Martin Luther King spoke in a similar vein when he said that ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’. America has a long tradition of freedom, it lives and breathes freedom; it is her staple diet and the basis of her constitution. Today Pakistan ’s freedom is under attack and all freedom loving Americans will expect the US to stand up against the tyranny of General Musharraf and condemn his actions in muzzling the media, the sacking and house arrest of senior judges, the suspension of fundamental human rights and liberties and his suspending of the constitution. These are tantamount to war crimes against Pakistan and her people and the rubicon has been crossed, the Pakistani people have chosen to free themselves from the evil of military rule so today America must decide whether it stands with Pakistan or its khaki kings, it cannot be a friend with both.

So we appeal to the respected members of the US Senate and Congress to champion liberty and justice in Pakistan by moving the Senate and Congress against General Musharraf’s vile and illegal act of imposing an emergency in Pakistan. We urge you to pressure the Bush Administration to force the General to concede all of the following:

The end of the emergency and the restoration of the constitution.
The reinstatement of the Chief Justice and all other judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts.
The freeing of all human rights activists, lawyers, judges and political workers in jail or under house arrest at once.
The announcement of a neutral caretaker government to conduct free and fair elections conducted under the supervision of a newly constituted Election Commission by January 2008.
The suspension of military aid until General Musharraf retires from the army with it being the first step in a new US Pakistan policy that is people-centric with a ‘ Pakistan policy’ replacing a failed ‘Musharraf policy’.

The recent proposals of Senator Joe Biden in this regard are useful food for thought and a move in the right direction and such moves from the US will be received positively by the Pakistani people. Yet US officials have indicated that the Bush administration has no plans to cut American financial support to Pakistan so it seems the US is once again hell-bent on repeating past US foreign policy mistakes in Pakistan. General Musharraf is a spent force after his latest power grab, he has been reduced to a poor shadow of his past glories, and he cannot deliver success in the war on terror. Thus it is make or break time for all Republicans and Democrats in the Congress and Senate, for the Pakistani nation wants them to support Pakistan and not her khaki-men. The policy shift advocated by Senator Joe Biden of developing an US foreign policy based on Pakistan as a whole and not a ‘Musharraf policy’ is a positive sign that opinion leaders in the US are re-examining their past decisions.

Senator Biden’s four central points are worth repeating here, they are:

Tripling non-security aid to $1.5 billion annually for at least a decade with the aid to be unconditional and would be the US ’s pledge to the Pakistani people. Instead of funding military hardware, it would build schools, clinics, and roads.
The US must condition security aid on performance. US should base security aid on clear results. Washington is now spending well over $1 billion annually, and “it’s not clear we’re getting our money’s worth”.
The US must help Pakistan enjoy a “democracy dividend.” The first year of democratic rule should bring an additional $1 billion - above the $1.5 billion non-security aid baseline. Biden said he supports tying future non-security aid - above the guaranteed baseline - to Pakistan ’s progress in developing democratic institutions and meeting good-governance norms.
The US must engage the Pakistani people, not just their rulers, which will involve everything from improved public diplomacy and educational exchanges to high impact projects that actually change people’s lives.

Intransigence and apathy in the corridors of power disguised as quiet diplomacy from the US will be criminal at this juncture. This is a time to stand tall or stay silent forever, a new Pakistan is taking shape and its allies like the US must help shape it according to the ideals of liberty and justice. The words of the great President Abraham Lincoln must be heeded when he said ‘stand with anybody that stands right, stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong’. Pakistan has chose to do or die, there is no middle way for dictatorships and military-led governments in Pakistan, they are a dying species soon to become extinct, the hands of history are upon us and this is one battle General Musharraf is sure to lose.

The response from US senators has been very positive none more so than Senator Joseph Lieberman a former US Vice-President Candidate and his email to Wasim Arif is reproduced below:

Dear Mr. Arif:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the situation in Pakistan.

As you know, on November 3, 2007, General Pervez Musharraf suspended Pakistan's constitution and assumed emergency powers in his role both as president and army chief. Since then, his security forces have arrested more than 1,500 lawyers and judges, human rights activists, and political leaders. Almost all independent television stations remain off the air, and large rallies have been banned.

General Musharraf's extra-constitutional actions represent a disappointing and dangerous setback to democracy in Pakistan, as well as United States-Pakistani relations. Although General Musharraf has sought to justify the imposition of martial law to protect Pakistan from Islamist extremism, his security forces have, in fact, targeted the moderate forces of civil society and constitutional government - the very people who provide the best bulwark against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

Pakistan remains a pivotal state in the war on terror. Since September 11, 2001, the government of Pakistan has provided critical assistance that has led to the capture of over 500 al Qaeda operatives and thwarted several terrorist attacks that were planned against the United States and its allies. At the same time, the Pakistani government has failed to dislodge al Qaeda and the Taliban in the country's northern provinces, where these Islamist extremist groups today enjoy safe haven. Rather than uniting moderate Pakistanis against these terrorists, General Musharraf's actions instead threaten to make it even more difficult to end this unacceptable threat to our security.

I am pleased that General Musharraf has announced that Pakistan will hold parliamentary elections before January 9, 2008. He must be held to this pledge. In addition, for the good of his country, General Musharraf must also promise to remove himself as head of the Pakistani Army and stipulate a specific date for the end of martial law. In the event that diplomatic pressure alone fails to convince General Musharraf to do these things, the United States may be forced to consider cutting some of the aid we provide to the Pakistani government.

I will continue to monitor the situation in Pakistan closely. I deeply hope that General Musharraf will act responsibly and peaceably to resolve the crisis that his actions have created. It is of paramount importance to the national security of the United States that Pakistan is led by an effective, democratically-elected leader who is willing to work with us in the struggle against Islamist extremism.

In recent weeks, I have written twice to President Musharraf, to express my concerns about the political situation in Pakistan. In October 2007, following the suicide bombing in Karachi that killed 140 innocent people, I wrote - together with Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Foreign Appropriations - to urge General Musharraf to conduct a full investigation of the attack and not to use security concerns as a pretext for a political crackdown.

In early November 2007, I again wrote to President Musharraf along with several of my colleagues, urging him to release Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan, a highly distinguished attorney and political leader in Pakistan who was arrested after the imposition of emergency rule. Mr. Ahsan has represented a variety of high profile political figures in Pakistan, including former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister Naas Sharif, and Chief Justice Chaudhry of the Pakistani Supreme Court.

Wasim concludes by pointing out the spelling of Nawaz Sharif as Naas by Senator Lieberman. For Wasim the fight continues ….. until as he says the pursuit of principles defeats the pursuit of profit. Success will come comrades for we can only but prevail.