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Response to Emergency Rule in Pakistan: Distancing from Musharraf not in the Best Interest of the United States

By Raza BokhariThe recent extra constitutional steps taken by President Musharraf resulting in the imposition of a state of emergency in Pakistan remain a continued target of criticism by U.S. presidential candidates, legislators and policy makers. While it is true that such extreme measures are rarely popular, it is quite troubling that there is no note of recognition that the head of a nation has a fiduciary responsibility to make tough decisions in the interest of national security in order to preserve and protect the nation and its citizens.Even before September 11, 2001, several U.S. presidents have declared national states of emergency in response to various situations. During the American Civil War, President Lincoln suspended civil liberties to save the Union. In 1995 President Clinton declared a limited state of emergency to deal with the threats of disruption of Middle East peace process; he expanded this national emergency in 1998 to order a strike against Osama Bin Laden. Since September 11, President Bush has taken several steps through executive orders and the U.S. Congress has passed laws, notably the NSA warrant less surveillance program and Military Commission Act of 2006, which infringe on civil liberties in the interest of national security. In addition, U.S. presidents historically have resorted to extra constitutional measures by issuing Signing Statements when enacting laws in an attempt to nullify parts of the legislation passed by the Congress. President Reagan and President Bush Sr. were known to be strong proponents of the Signing Statements and President Clinton also used them frequently while in office. There is an ongoing controversy over the extensive use of Signing Statements by President George W. Bush to modify the meaning of the law. In July 2006, a task force of the American Bar Association condemned the use of Signing Statements by the president and declared them contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers, but nevertheless these Signing Statements remain in effect.Besides the United States, which remains in a nominal state of emergency, countries like Georgia, Israel, Egypt, Syria, the Palestinian occupied territories, Bangladesh, Guinea, Fiji and Brunei operate in an ongoing state of emergency. In some of these countries the state of emergency has been in place for several decades.It cannot be disputed that in Pakistan there has been an escalating deterioration of law and order. Besides unwarranted judicial activism led by the deposed chief justice, law enforcement agencies, the armed forces and proponents of enlightened moderation are increasingly becoming a target of terrorism through suicide bombing. There is a resurgence of extremism in the Northern Western Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, forcing the region to the brink of a civil war. Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces are strengthening their stronghold along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and NATO, Pakistani and other coalition forces have suffered significant loss of troops. These are grave challenges that make it impossible to resist imposition of a national state of emergency. There is precedence in Pakistan and the region for taking such an action; notably in India in 1975.While pursuit of perfection is an unfinished business and President Musharraf can and must do more, he has nonetheless been a reliable U.S. partner in fighting terrorism, promoting enlightened moderation, empowering women, catalyzing economic growth, fostering permanent peace in the sub-continent, and is speedily working toward restoring complete democracy and civilian rule. For the past seven years he has adeptly walked a very fine line that has resulted in the people of Pakistan beginning to realize the universally essential value of better relations with the United States. President Musharraf's abrupt departure from the center stage is neither in the best interest of us in the United States nor in the best interest of the people of Pakistan. He is a pivotal anchor for moderate forces and various stakeholders, such as the armed forces, intelligence agencies, secular and religious political parties, and global allies to foster a consensus toward building a secure, stable and a democratic Pakistan.It is a mistake for us not to recognize that agitation against President Musharraf and his policies on the streets of Pakistan directly demonstrate agitation and opposition against the interest of United States in the region. Suggestions of curtailing economic and military assistance to Pakistan by some presidential candidates and legislators are not wise at this time, and will serve only to fuel these agitations and jeopardize U.S. interests.We must and should continue to support President Musharraf to lead the way in fighting terrorism and restoring civilian rule in Pakistan. Raza Bokhari is president of the Pakistani American Public Affairs Committee (PAKPAC). A physician turned entrepreneur who successfully aggregates and accelerates healthcare services companies across the United States, he also serves on the board of directors of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, the Pakistan Human Development Fund, Temple University's Fox School of Business and Management, and The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. (www.razabokhari.com)

Raza Bokhari discusses Musharraf Treason Charges on Voice of America
June 28th, 2013
Dr. Raza Bokhari joined experts from Pakistan and United States to discuss the implications of treason allegations against Former President Musharraf

Click here to see the video.
Political Landscape in Pakistan - The Musharraf Option
June 1, 2010
Dr. Raza Bokhari wrote the folowing op-ed which was recently in the news.
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