ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan's deposed chief justice called on lawyers nationwide Tuesday to defy baton-wielding police and protest President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule.
"Go to every corner of Pakistan and give the message that this is the time to sacrifice," Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who is under virtual house arrest in Islamabad, told lawyers by mobile phone. "Don't be afraid. God will help us and the day will come when you'll see the constitution supreme and no dictatorship for a long time."
Remember that people are either with us, or they're with the terrorists.
Since Mushy is with us, these guys must be with the terrorists.
Maybe President Bush would like to send some people to show Mushy's guys how to do some enhanced interrogations to get to the bottom of all this.
(Remember, too, that we do not torture.)
Later, in the central city of Multan, hundreds of police blocked about 1,000 attorneys from leaving a district court complex to stage a street rally in defiance of a ban. Both sides pelted each other with stones and officers swung batons to disperse the crowd.
I never thought I would live to see the day that I am cheering on 1,000 lawyers!
An Associated Press reporter saw at least three lawyers were wounded, two bleeding from the head, and three police also were hurt by bricks flung by lawyers.
The clashes marked the second day of unrest since Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 coup, declared the emergency. He suspended the constitution, ousted independent-minded judges, put a stranglehold on the media and granted sweeping powers to authorities to crush dissent. Thousands of people have been rounded up and thrown in jail.
And you thought that "enhanced interrogation" stuff was over the top?
Many say Musharraf was making a last-ditch effort to cling to power, though he says his primary aim was to help fight rising Islamic extremism. The moves came ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on whether his recent re-election as president was legal. The top judge, Chaudhry, was removed and other independent-minded justices replaced.
There does not appear to be a groundswell of popular resistance in the nation of 160 million, which has been under military rule for much of its 60-year history. Cynicism and apathy over the political system is widespread. Demonstrations so far have been limited largely to opposition activists, rights workers and lawyers, angered by the attacks on the judiciary.
Except that these people aren't Buddhist monks. After Mushy has stomped out the lawyers, a greater percentage of what is left will be suicide-bomber-wannabes.
The authoritarian measures have drawn widespread international criticism, although so far only the Netherlands has punished Pakistan, freezing most of its development aid.
The United States, Pakistan's chief foreign donor, says it is reviewing aid to Pakistan but appeared unlikely to cut assistance to a close ally in its war on terror. President Bush urged Musharraf to resign as army chief and hold parliamentary elections in January as originally planned.
Don't worry, Mushy -- Bush will stay the course.
U.S. aid to Pakistan has totaled more than $10 billion since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in America. But Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested that military assistance may not be affected so as not to disrupt efforts to fight al-Qaida and other militants.
Blackwater has gotten some bad press lately, but I will tell you this much: if you had given that $10 billion to Blackwater, I'll bet they would have come up with Osama bin Laden by now.
Chaudhry, the deposed chief justice, addressed about two dozen lawyers gathered inside the Islamabad Bar Association headquarters by telephone. About 200 lawyers protested outside, shouting "Musharraf is a criminal — we will not accept uniforms or bullets!"
Mushy deals with the terrorists, because he never knows which side he will need support from to stay in power.
And, his views on heroin trafficking likely don't conflict too much with those of the Bush Administration.
Almost immediately after Chaudhry spoke, some mobile phone services in the city were cut. They were back up hours later; it was not clear if the events were related.
Musharraf has promised to restore democracy, but there did not appear to be a unified position among senior Pakistan government officials on when elections would be held.
Democracy will be restored and elections will be held as soon as Mushy knows he will win.
If they can make it look like it was actually in doubt and contested, so much the better.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz was chairing a Cabinet meeting Tuesday to try to hammer out the date.
"But it will take some time," said Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, a Cabinet member who is close to Musharraf. He said the president wanted to go ahead with the polls as planned, but "some elements want them to be delayed for a year."
Timing is critical -- you have to get enough people through some "enhanced interrogation" sessions so they know who to vote for.
Lawyers were the driving force behind protests earlier this year when Musharraf tried unsuccessfully to fire Chaudhry.
Under the emergency, Musharraf purged the Supreme Court of independent-minded judges. So far, eight judges have taken a new oath. Previously there were 17 judges in the court.
In their first ruling, the eight "set aside" a ruling of seven other rebellious judges, including Chaudhry, who had rejected the emergency as unconstitutional, court spokesman Arshad Muneer said.
The court is expected to resume hearings on Musharraf's eligibility for another presidential term and issue a quick ruling in his favor.
You don't say!
Musharraf also has moved to control the media. Police raided and briefly sealed a printing press belonging to Pakistan's largest media group. Broadcasts by independent news networks remained blocked, and domestic transmissions of BBC and CNN were cut.
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, meanwhile, was expected to travel from Karachi to Islamabad later Tuesday and meet with other opposition parties on Wednesday.
Bhutto, who has held inconclusive talks on forging an alliance with Musharraf to fight Islamic extremism, narrowly escaped a massive suicide bombing in Karachi on Oct. 18 that killed 145.
Bhutto is associated with some corruption herself.
So are the Islamic extremists -- aside from their other obvious drawbacks.
Are we left cheering for lawyers?
It must be a cold day in Hell.
Opposition groups say about 3,500 people have been arrested since Musharraf declared emergency rule Saturday, while government officials put the number at around 2,500. Most detainees are lawyers, although opposition party supporters and rights activists have also been arrested.