Voices from Pakistan

Pakistanis tell Al Jazeera what they think about emergency rule.

Many have described the situation on the
streets of Pakistan’s cities as normal [GALLO/GETTY] 

George Bush, the US president, has urged Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president, to lift the emergency rule he declared on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the ousted chief justice, has urged his supporters to “rise up” to save the country’s constitution.

Al Jazeera asked Pakistanis what they think about the state of emergency.

Zulfiqar Quraishi, Karachi

“The streets are normal in Karachi. The shops are open and people are out and about with their families.

The business community thinks we are better off with military rule and that the president should have taken charge earlier. Considering the options he seems to be the best choice. His policies have been such that industry is booming and there is a lot of infrastructure development.

The crackdown on religious militants in the north of the country has to be more severe and it has to be in the form of military action as they are so well equipped. No political person in power would have the guts to crush these unwanted fanatics.

As for the demonstrating lawyers, contrary to what the media says, it is the demonstrators themselves who are the instigators of violence. The political demonstrators are better equipped and armed than our police.

It is easy for other countries to promote democracy – they have been at it for centuries but we, on the other hand, are a relatively young country. The common man is not interested in politics. More than half of the country does not vote and most don’t believe in the system any more with so much rigging going on. Give us time and the opportunity and we will get there eventually.”

Asma, Islamabad

“The people of Pakistan are in a state of shock. We really do not know what is going to happen next. We feel as though the world has abandoned us.

It feels like we are in the Stone Age as all our private TV channels are off air. We are relying on internet news sites for access to information.

It is like we are hostages in our own country. We are not afraid but we are worried about what the future holds for us. Our country is at stake because of one person.”

Syed Aliyazdan Raza, Karachi

Pakistani policemen keep watch in
Islamabad [EPA]

“As far as Karachi is concerned the majority of the population are ardent supporters of Pervez Musharraf because of his marvellous achievements in all areas including education, industrialisation, communication and infrastructure development.

Karachi has remained calm and unruffled except for the lawyers who have tried to destabilise the situation.

I do not foresee or expect any negative activity in Karachi against the government or against the state of emergency. People are convinced that the media and judiciary did not play their role straight and favoured the opposition unjustifiably.

What we are noticing is that some lawyers and a few recognised TV channels have overstepped the restricted boundaries and ignited the situation. Some TV news anchors always criticised the government unnecessarily. They portrayed terrorists as righteous or freedom fighters and behaved irresponsibly.

Emergency can’t be supported. But, considering the circumstances that existed before the emergency, the actions of the president seem fully justified.”

Arslan Mehboob Awan, Rawalpindi

Things in the city are quite calm except for the areas near the courts. Actually the people of Pakistan are more worried about the bread and butter that they have to win every day.

Your Views

“I believe with Bhutto as PM there would be more people supporting the government”

Howahr, Doha, Qatar

Send us your views

The Pakistani police are notorious for injustice and the atrocities they inflict upon people and that is why people are really afraid of them.

I think the people of Pakistan are looking for a true sincere leader who can unite the masses and organise the protest in an organised way. A leader is a must for this movement to grow stronger.

I know many people, including myself, who really want to protest against this tyranny but do not see any effective way out except for using the strength of the pen.
Musharraf says the economy is strong and on the rise but the nation does not know the price Musharraf is paying for this development. The luxuries of life have become easily accessible while the necessities of life are unavailable or very costly. Pakistan doesn’t want economic development that cannot give the basic necessities to her people.
If the justice system fails today then I see no future for Pakistan.

Mustaqim Ahmed, Islamabad

We are not afraid but have a deep concern about the situation. The private TV channels are off. Only our official TV PTV is on and we get the news and updates from newspapers and the internet.

The majority of the people of Pakistan live in poor circumstances; they hardly manage to provide financially for their family. They don’t have time to come out onto the streets to protest.

If you try to protest nobody knows if agency officials will pick you up and take you away. We already have missing people. Protesting against the government is risky. If somebody tries he may be picked up and never returned to his family.

Hamid Shah, Rawalpindi

It is just business as usual in my city. Since the emergency was imposed I have visited Islamabad once and from my observation it seems pretty safe and non-violent there as well.

What a lot of news channels fail to mention is that a lot of people support Musharraf. While I do not support everything he does, he is much better than the others.

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The media has been given unprecedented freedom during his time and they abused it to the extent of calling for outright mutiny against his regime. I would like to see any Muslim country that can boast of as free a press and media as there was in Pakistan.

I feel certain that he declared the state of emergency just to stay in power but I feel that it was a necessary step because the media was blackmailing him, the chief justice and the judiciary were behaving like thugs and the situation in Swat and the northern areas was getting out of hand.

It’s very interesting to see that the very people who started all these protests against the government are the very same people who are reputed to be the most corrupt in all of Pakistan – the lawyers.

Sidra, Lahore

The common citizen doesn’t seem too drastically affected by the situation as yet. Most of what has happened has largely been anticipated for at least six months and people are generally taking it as just another dip in Pakistan’s political graph – and are displaying a strong sense of helplessness. My friends and family see some seriously bad times ahead for the country.
All news channels – local and international – have been taken off the air which is particularly disturbing for people like me – students and youngsters. My friends and I are updating ourselves through internet live streams of Pakistani and international news channels, and Pakistani blogs from around the world, which I think will also be blocked as soon the government wakes up to the realisation. We’ve seen internet censorship in the past.

To have your say join our Your Views debate on the state of emergency in Pakistan.

Source: Al Jazeera

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