I received this email late last night from a friend in Pakistan. Here is a human voice for those who feel disconnected from events halfway around the world (I’ve edited the letter to remove any identifying references):
I am not sure how many of you are aware of this but I was recently arrested. General Musharraf imposed a state of emergency (In effect a “Martial Law”) thereby suspending all civil rights. There is a massive clampdown on media. Several judges have been suspended, some new judges have taken oath, several people continue to be arrested daily.
We were detained for 3 days, initially with no charges and later on charges of disruption of peace. The group was taken from police station to house arrest to central jail – back to house arrest again. We were eventually released with the exception of the X and Y.
There are many people / groups working overtly and covertly towards remediation of the current situation in Pakistan. There is consensus amongst activists on the need for:
- removal of emergency
- restoration of sacked judges & removal of newly appointed judges
- freedom of media
- any mock-election in the circumstances will be unacceptable
Sympathizers want to create pressure groups, lobby or help in anyway towards removal of the emergency in Pakistan. I would like to invite you all to be a part of this effort and to lobby with your governments and the representatives of Pakistan’s government – where ever you are..
For those interested in letting the Government of Canada know of your concern regarding the situation in Pakistan, consider writing the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Maxime Bernier at:
House of Commons
Telephone: (613) 992-8053
Fax: (613) 995-0687
A sample email (please feel free to copy, edit, cut and paste):
Dear Hon. Maxime Bernier, Minister of Foreign Affairs
I am writing to express my concern over the unfolding events in Pakistan. The suspension of civil rights, suppression of the free press, and the government’s interference in the judicial system directly threaten the rule of law and democratic institutions in Pakistan.
Canada has a long tradition of promoting the principles of democracy and speaking out when they come under threat. Given the gravity of the situation please consider using whatever diplomatic resources you have at your disposal to let General Musharraf know of Canada, and the world’s, shared concern over his actions. Please work with our allies to pressure Pakistan into:
- removing the state of emergency
- restoring the recently removed judges & removing those recently appointed
- restoring freedom of the press; and
- ensuring the legitimacy of any upcoming election
Mr. Berner, please take action to ensure that the people of Pakistan’s basic democratic rights are preserved.