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General Strike Pakistan

Bob Zuber has been keeping readers current with the outbreaks over the weekend in Karachi, Pakistan — which have now exploded into a General Strike in many parts of the country.

On the surface it appears to be a confrontation between lawyers and barristers supporting the suspended Chief Justice, Mohammed Chaudhry and Pakistan’s boss, General Musharaff, who took power in a coup in 1999. The Chaudhry supporters are implicity and explicitly at times, a re-democratizing force, though they claim to have no other end than restoring and ensuring the independence of the Judiciary. Zahid Hussain for the Times Online advances us this view of the story.

However, there is always more to be seen. The MQM (Muttahida Quami Movement) is the main political support / street presence for Musharraf. Those with allegiance to the MQM are in the great majority Urdu speaking Mohajirs, Muslims, who fled to Pakistan during the Partition of India in 1947. Opposing the MQM and Musharraf for an entire panoply of reasons are Pashtun Pakistanis (with wide spread family and cultural ties in Afghanistan) organized by the Awami National Party (ANP), in a united front with, among others, the Mutahida Majls-e-Amal, an opposition coalition of hard-line religious parties including Jamaat-e-Islami, thePakistan People’s Party (PPP), the Pakistan Muslim League, the Awami National Party and Sunni Tehreek, an organization in an off-shoot movement of Sunni Islam.

Relevant articles are here at NewKerala.com and in this AP article by Zarar Kahn.

The picture is not pretty. Very fundamentalist religious operators are joining relatively secular law practitioners in anger over Musharraf — in a country with a savage history of sectarian violence, and in possession — some many possessions?– of nuclear weaponry. The US of course, having relied heavily on Musharraf in the Bush defined war on terror, is adding to its burden of guilt in the eyes of those opposed to Musharraf, as well as not having a very realistic Plan B, should he fall.