COUNTRYAAH, Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was
sentenced in April to life imprisonment for hijacking and
terrorism. According to prosecutors, Sharif had ordered that
the aircraft on which it had just departed Commander General
Pervez Musharraf be traveling would be prevented from
landing in Karachi on October 12, 1999, the same day that
Musharraf deposed Sharif in a coup. In a separate trial,
Sharif was later sentenced to 14 years in prison for
corruption. He was also prohibited from holding political
office for the next 21 years.
The terrorist trial in Karachi was rife with controversy.
A judge refused to participate in the process in protest
against civilian-clad intelligence personnel sitting among
the audience. Sharif's defender refused for a couple of
weeks to attend court after the media "out of concern for
the security of the country" were banned from reproducing
Sharif's testimony. One of Sharif's lawyers was murdered in
In January, the government dismissed several members of
the Supreme Court who refused to accept a constitutional
amendment granting the military regime impunity for all
decisions and measures. The new HD judges then approved the
coup as "justified" and authorized the junta to change
selected parts of the constitution. At the same time, HD
said that general elections must be held within three years
from the day of the coup. General Musharraf said he accepted
the time frame and ruled that he would leave power earlier.
In April, the government announced that "honor killings"
on women will henceforth be handled legally like all other
murders. At the same time, measures were announced to
prevent abuse of the mock law, which has often been used in
an arbitrary and discriminatory way against religious
minority groups. At that point, however, the government
quickly backed down after protests from Islamic
In late December, the first phase of local elections was
conducted in 18 of 106 districts. Acc. the government's own
information reached the turnout only 43.5%, while according
to the. the opposition was down to 20%. Although the
election was formally conducted without the participation of
political parties, most candidates were affiliated with one
of the major parties. Observers pointed out that there was a
political shift from the established (banned) parties to
local feudal clans.
In March, the second phase of local elections was
conducted in 20 districts, and the pressure went to the head
of government to establish a timetable for return to
democracy in October 2002. At the same time, police detained
2000 activists from the Alliance for Return to Democracy and
22 of its leaders who planned a demonstration.
Musharraf appointed head of state and president on June
20, 2001. He continued as head of government and chief of
the armed forces. At the same time as the US invasion of
Afghanistan, on October 6, he extended his post of chief of
staff indefinitely. An item he otherwise according to. the
constitution should leave after 3 years.
Following the terrorist attack in New York on September
11, 2001, the United States removed the economic and
military sanctions it had imposed on India and Pakistan
following their 1998 nuclear test. Laden. Otherwise, the
Taliban regime in Kabul had been supported militarily,
economically and ideologically by Pakistan. The Taliban
regime's victory in Afghanistan was considered by the
Pakistani military to be Pakistan's first military victory.
The US war on Afghanistan triggered widespread protests
among Muslims and Islamists in Pakistan, and shortly before
the North American invasion, Musharraf dismissed a number of
pro-Islamist generals from strategic positions.
When US Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Islamabad
in October, Musharraf asked for US support in the Kashmir
conflict as well as financial aid to offset the flow of
refugees now entering the Afghanistan border. In total, Iran
and Pakistan received about $ 3 million. Afghan refugees
sent on the run from the US war.
Following a suicide attack in the Indian Parliament in
New Delhi on December 13, India gave Pakistan responsibility
for the attack. Musharraf condemned the action and denied
any connection from his government to the terrorists. On
December 26, India increased its military readiness along
the Pakistan border and tensions in Kashmir increased. While
there were gunfire across the Pakistani-Indian border, on
December 30, Pakistani authorities arrested Mohamed Saeed -
one of the leaders of the Islamic groups responsible for the
attack on the Indian parliament.
On March 18, 2002, a Protestant church in Islamabad was
attacked with grenades. 5 were killed and over 45 injured.
No group claimed responsibility for the action, but the
government accused Islamic militants of responding to the
hunt for terrorists Musharraf had launched following
international pressure. In January, the North American
journalist Daniel Pearl had been abducted by an Islamic
group and he was executed 4 months later.
In April, Musharraf launched a campaign to convince the
people that it should elect him for president for a 5-year
term in a referendum. Acc. Otherwise, the Constitution of
Pakistan is the president-elect and the dissolved parliament
should be elected in October 2002. The opposition strongly
objected to the dictator's political maneuver, but he got
support from the Supreme Court and carried out his
referendum on April 30. Officially, 97% voted for him as
president, but both human rights organizations and local and
international election observers characterized the election
as a farce.