Wednesday, 7 November 2007

The Hijacking

Finally, towards the end of the day came the news that Bhutto had ordered the PPP cadres to start protesting. To make up for lost time, a small bunch tried to storm the police barricades around the parliament building and some managed to make enough of a nuisance of themselves to get arrested. This pantomime has already worked wonders for Bhutto in the rather credulous foreign press, as this BBC report testifies. All this after Bhutto flew to Islamabad, met with "democratic opposition parties" (this is what reports in the Guardian, International Herald Tribune and BBC are all saying but I can't figure out yet just who these opposition parties are since the PTI, the PML-N, and the JI, all of whose senior figures are either in hiding or in jail, did not attend the meeting. Who does that leave exactly? I suppose I may find out more in the newspapers tomorrow), and held a press conference to which the world press was invited - all with no hindrance at all from the government. After the press conference, the gathered reporters and photographers were treated to the sight of a small bunch of PPP activists getting into a ridiculous tug-of-war with the police at the nearby parliament building.

This stretches credulity at Bhutto's "confrontation" with Pakistan's dictator to breaking point. Here is a photograph of Bhutto descending into the lion's den of Islamabad to risk life and liberty for the sake of democracy.

Looks rather tense and worried about the future of her country, doesn't she? (Source: The Guardian)

Finally, from the IHT comes this gem:
Earlier in the day, Syeda Abida Hussain, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States and a member of Bhutto's party, said that foreign officials have said that they saw little popular opposition to Musharraf's decree, but that the protests would demonstrate that this was wrong. "The international community is saying we don't see a popular protest," she said. "So now we're going to make a protest."

And so BB moves in to hijack the nascent democracy movement....

UPDATE: Its still tough to get a full sense of what BB was up to in Islamabad yesterday. The media blackout is so frustrating! This is what I can piece together from news reports in the press today. The PPP was in Islamabad to attend a meeting of the ARD (the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy which was a platform on which all opposition political parties are represented.) I try to untangle the mess here.

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