Pakistan is on the brink. Unpopular president General Pervez Musharraf has imposed a state of emergency, sacked the Supreme Court, shut down the media, curtailed basic freedoms, and imprisoned democratic opposition leaders, including trade unionists.
The International Trade Union Confederation has called for “the immediate restoration of the rule of law, the country’s constitution and the fundamental democratic rights of its people” in Pakistan following the president’s actions.
While media attention outside Pakistan has focused on well-known opposition politicians such as Benazir Bhutto and cricketer Imran Khan, there has been little news coverage of the arrest of trade unionists.
Elections are planned for January 2008. But martial law and the imprisonment of democratic opposition leaders won’t make for a free and fair vote.
Protest groups are calling on the international community, particularly the United States Congress which has voted Musharraf billions of dollars in military aid over the last six years, to use its leverage to ensure swift elections and the restoration of constitutional protections.