US bombing in northern Pakistan: an act of imperialist recklessness

By James Cogan, 16 January 2006

The US air strike carried out on January 13 on the isolated village of Damadola, near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, was as reckless as it was criminal. At least 18 civilians were killed, including five women and five children, further inflaming already high political and social tensions inside Pakistan.

Pakistan: Bush ally Musharraf mounts terror campaign against telecommunication workers

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 18 June 2005

More than a thousand Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) workers have been arrested in the six days since the country’s US-backed military regime ordered army and paramilitary forces to seize control of the state-owned company’s key installations.

Pakistani troops seize telephone network, strike leaders arrested

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 13 June 2005

Pakistani troops and other security personnel seized control of at least 150 Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) installations spread across the country on the evening of Saturday June 11. The army action, which saw heavily armed troops storm into PTCL facilities and expel the unionized workforce, came shortly after Pakistan’s US-supported military regime fixed June 18 as the date for selling off a major chunk of the state-owned telephone company’s shares.

Pakistani workers revolt against PTCL privatization

Security forces poised to attack occupation

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 4 June 2005

Workers at Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL)—who have been occupying the company’s Islamabad headquarters and other facilities since May 25—are threatening to sever the country’s communications network next Monday, unless Pervez Musharraf’s military government abandons its plans to privatize what is Pakistan’s largest and most profitable public-sector enterprise.

31 January 2005

In a show of bravado, Pakistan’s military-dictator president quipped he had nine lives after two sophisticated attempts on his life in December 2003. Yet 12 months later, Pervez Musharraf reneged on his pledge to step down as head of Pakistan’s armed forces by the end of 2004 and announced he shall remain chief of Pakistan’s Armed Services, as well as the country’s president, till at least 2007. Clearly the general—a man the Bush administration has repeatedly touted as a key ally in the “war on terrorism”—doubts he has many lives left.

13 December 2004

US President George W. Bush has again lavished praise on Pervez Musharraf, declaring himself “very pleased with” the “efforts” of Pakistan’s military strongman. Bush met with Musharraf December 4, just four days after the official who was serving as Pakistan’s acting president while Musharraf visited Europe and the Americas signed into law legislation that allows Musharraf to continue as both the country’s military chief and its president.

10 November 2004

With the backing of the United States, Britain and other western powers, Pakistan’s military dictator-president, General Pervez Musharraf, has staged-managed events so he can claim that he is bowing to the “people’s wishes” when he renounces a pledge to step down as head of Pakistan’s armed forces.

Musharraf imposes former Citibank official as Pakistan’s prime minister

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 3 September 2004

Pakistan’s US-backed military strongman, president and armed forces chief Pervez Musharraf, has orchestrated the installation of Shaukat Aziz, a former top official at New York’s Citibank, as the country’s prime minister.

Sectarian violence in Pakistan’s commercial capital

By Vilani Peiris, 24 June 2004

Karachi—Pakistan’s main commercial and industrial hub—has been rocked by a wave of sectarian violence in May and early June. More than 60 people have been killed and hundreds wounded. While the city has been hit by bloodletting between Shiite- and Sunni-based groups before, the latest round is the worst in recent years.

Pakistan and Zimbabwe: a tale of two autocrats

By Rick Kelly, 26 May 2004

Following a meeting of its Ministerial Action Group in London on Saturday, the British Commonwealth lifted the suspension imposed on Pakistan following the country’s 1999 military coup. Ignoring all evidence to the contrary, the Commonwealth declared that “progress [has been] made in restoring democracy and rebuilding democratic institutions in Pakistan”.

US seeks Pakistani military support for Afghan and Iraqi occupations

By Vilani Peiris, 22 May 2004

Bogged down in a deepening quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush administration has made a series of appeals to Pakistan for military and political assistance in both countries. However, any steps by President Pervez Musharraf to accede to the US requests will only further fuel opposition within Pakistan and compound the political difficulties his regime confronts.

US-backed military offensive in Pakistan costs scores of lives

By Peter Symonds, 23 March 2004

A week of fierce fighting between 6,000 heavily-armed Pakistani troops and suspected Islamist militants in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan has resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. The army has surrounded an estimated 400 to 500 fighters entrenched in a number of heavily fortified mud brick structures in South Waziristan and has been pounding the area using artillery, helicopter gunships and combat aircraft.

Amid mounting political crisis

Pakistan’s military dictator survives assassination attempt

By Keith Jones, 23 December 2003

Pakistan’s military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, narrowly escaped assassination December 14 when a bridge was almost levelled by multiple bombs just seconds after his motorcade passed over it. In a show of bravado, Musharraf has downplayed the seriousness of the assassination attempt, but its sophistication strongly suggests the involvement of elements within Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment.

Pakistan extends ban on Islamic groups

By Vilani Peiris, 8 December 2003

Under pressure from Washington, Pakistan’s military-backed regime last month extended its ban on Islamic fundamentalist organisations to include six new groups and carried out an extensive police crackdown against their membership.

Pakistan intensifies military operations in Afghan border areas

By Vilani Peiris, 4 November 2003

Responding to pressure from Washington, Pakistan has been engaged in extensive military operations for the last month to prevent groups of armed fighters crossing its border into Afghanistan. Both the US military and the Afghan government had accused Pakistan of failing to take sufficient measures to prevent anti-US forces from conducting hit-and-run raids inside Afghanistan.

Pakistan delays sending troops to Iraq

By K. Ratnayake, 21 July 2003

Nearly a month after agreeing “in principle” to sending troops to Iraq, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has yet to reach a final arrangement with Washington on the “modalities” of such an arrangement. Behind the drawn-out delays are deep concerns in Islamabad over the potential for a Pakistani force to become bogged down in the US-led occupation, triggering opposition at home.

US imposes sanctions on Pakistani nuclear firm

By Vilani Peiris, 21 April 2003

In an unexpected move, the Bush administration has imposed two-year sanctions on Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), a Pakistani company, accusing it of importing missiles from the state-owned Changgwang Sinyong Corp of North Korea (CSCNK). Similar sanctions were imposed on the North Korean company last August, which have now been extended to March 2005.

Antiwar protests in Pakistan rattle the Musharraf regime

By Vilani Peiris, 15 March 2003

Large antiwar protests in Pakistani cities over the past two weekends have further undermined the increasingly shaky position of military strongman President Pervez Musharraf. His administration is caught between pressure from Washington for Pakistan to support a resolution in the UN Security Council giving the go ahead for military action, on the one hand, and the popular sentiment against any war, on the other.

US military insists on right of “hot pursuit” inside Pakistan

By Sarath Kumara, 22 January 2003

Following a shoot-out involving the US military on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border on December 29, Washington is insisting that its troops continue to be permitted to cross into Pakistan in “hot pursuit” of alleged Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters.

Islamic extremists come to power in two Pakistani provinces

By Vilani Peiris, 12 December 2002

In the wake of the October national elections in Pakistan, an alliance of Islamic fundamentalist parties, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), has assumed power in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) for the first time in three decades. In the neighbouring province of Baluchistan, the MMA has struck a deal with the Pakistani Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam (PML-QA)—the party of Pakistan’s military strongman Pervez Musharraf—to form a coalition government.

Pakistan parliament convened but no government formed

By Vilani Peiris, 19 November 2002

More than a month after national elections on October 10, Pakistani military strongman General Pervez Musharraf finally convened the National Assembly last weekend, where newly elected MPs took the oath of office. Musharraf, who secured a vote of support in what was widely regarded as a rigged referendum earlier in the year, was sworn in for a five-year term as president. But the whole affair, which was meant to demonstrate that Pakistan was returning to civilian rule, was a charade.

Pakistani election reveals growing opposition to Musharraf

By Vilani Peiris, 24 October 2002

Pakistan’s ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, held carefully stage-managed national elections on October 10 in an effort to provide his military regime with a measure of political legitimacy. The results, however, and the low voter turnout reveal a growing hostility to the US-backed junta and to the continued presence of US troops, police and CIA agents in the country as part of the Bush administration’s “war on terrorism”.

Pakistani strongman imposes anti-democratic constitutional changes

By Vilani Peiris, 5 September 2002

Pakistan’s military ruler General Pervez Musharraf has imposed 29 sweeping constitutional changes that make a mockery of his claims to be returning the country to democratic rule through general elections scheduled for October 10. The amendments enacted by presidential fiat on August 21 ensure that Musharraf and the military will continue to hold effective power, whatever the outcome of the poll.

Anti-democratic measures guarantee Pakistan’s election will be a sham

By Vilani Peiris, 30 July 2002

Pakistan’s military ruler General Pervez Musharraf has announced National and Provincial assembly elections for October 10 in a bid to give his regime a democratic veneer and a degree of legitimacy. But a series of sweeping constitutional changes and presidential decrees announced over the last month ensure that Musharraf, not parliament, will wield power after the elections. The military junta is setting the rules for the election and at the same time ensuring that those elected will have no significant say in the running of the country.

Musharaff gives go-ahead for US military operations in Pakistan

By Vilani Peiris and Sarath Kumara, 9 May 2002

Under intense pressure from Washington, Pakistan’s military strongman General Pervez Musharraf has given the green light for US troops to operate inside the country alongside local army forces in pursuing so-called Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects.

Pakistan’s sham referendum endorses Musharraf as president

By Vilani Peiris, 7 May 2002

Pakistani authorities have declared that last week’s referendum has overwhelmingly endorsed General Pervez Musharraf for a five-year term as president. The result was a transparent sham that surprised nobody and has further discredited the military strongman who seized power in a coup in October 1999.

Pakistan’s military ruler holds referendum to tighten grip on power

By Joseph Kay, 30 April 2002

With the support of the Bush administration, Pakistan’s military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, is staging a national referendum today to give a popular fig leaf to his continued rule.

Pakistani leader faces an uncertain future as protests continue

By Vilani Peiris, 16 October 2001

US Secretary of State Colin Powell flew into Pakistan yesterday in an effort to ensure the military junta’s continuing support for the US bombardment of neighbouring Afghanistan. The regime headed by General Pervez Musharraf is treading a fine line as it faces daily protests against the US air strikes in the major cities and calls by Islamic fundamentalist parties for the ousting of the administration.

A combustible political situation in Pakistan

By Vilani Peiris, 5 October 2001

As the US prepares for war in Afghanistan, the military junta in Pakistan headed by General Pervez Musharraf is facing an increasingly volatile domestic situation, with protests against his support for Washington continuing to mount.

Pakistan’s military regime rallies to US war coalition

By Keith Jones, 25 September 2001

Faced with an ultimatum from Washington, Pakistan’s military regime has scuttled its alliance with the Taliban and given permission for US military forces to attack Afghanistan from Pakistani territory.

Pakistani junta arrests hundreds in crackdown on opposition parties

By Vilani Peiris, 3 April 2001

Pakistan's military regime headed by General Pervez Musharraf carried out a widespread crackdown on opposition parties to prevent a protest rally in the provincial capital of Lahore on March 23—Pakistan Day—calling for the restoration of parliamentary democracy and early national elections.

Pakistani regime shuts newspaper and charges editors with blasphemy

By Vilani Peiris, 26 February 2001

Under the pressure of Islamic fundamentalist groups, Pakistan's military regime headed by General Pervez Musharraf has arrested the editor and other staff members of the English language daily, the Frontier Post, over the publication of an email insulting to Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Those arrested face the death sentence or life imprisonment under the country's reactionary blasphemy law.

Pakistani regime allows jailed prime minister Sharif to go into exile

By Vilani Peiris, 19 December 2000

In a suddenly announced move on December 10, Pakistan's military regime released the ousted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from jail and sent him into exile in Saudi Arabia. As part of the deal, Sharif has agreed to keep out of politics while in exile and to forfeit more than $10 million in land, bank accounts and industrial property. While Sharif has been formally pardoned, he remains disqualified from holding public office for 21 years.

One year after the Musharraf coup

A beleaguered Pakistan military regime faces mounting criticism

By Vilani Peiris, 21 November 2000

Last month marked one year since General Pervez Musharraf ousted the elected Pakistani government, arrested prime minister Nawaz Sharif and installed his own military regime. Accusing the previous government of corruption and ruining the economy, Musharraf promised to bring economic progress and political stability, eradicate poverty, build investor confidence and restore democracy as quickly as possible.

Pakistan military junta's first budget meets opposition at home and abroad

By Vilani Peiris, 31 July 2000

The Pakistani military government's first annual budget, presented last month, points to the volatile situation that General Pervez Musharraf's junta now faces.

A decision to suit the military junta:

Former Pakistan prime minister sentenced to life imprisonment

By Vilani Peiris, 7 April 2000

Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was sentenced yesterday to life imprisonment on two charges—hijacking and terrorism—and acquitted on other charges, including attempted murder and kidnapping. Judge Rehmat Hussain Jafri, presiding in an anti-terrorism court, also ordered that Sharif's property be confiscated and that Sharif pay $37,000 in compensation and $18,500 in fines. He dismissed the charges against Sharif's six co-defendants, including his brother.

Sharif lawyer killed as Pakistani junta cracks down on opposition

By Vilani Peiris, 17 March 2000

Events over the last week surrounding the trial of Pakistan's ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif have revealed the growing nervousness in ruling circles over emerging opposition to the country's military junta headed by General Pervez Musharraf.

Pakistani judge gags ousted prime minister on trial on fabricated charges

By Vilani Peris, 6 March 2000

Another sharp turn has taken place in the trial of ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif. His senior defence lawyers resigned last Monday in protest over a decision by trial judge Rehmat Hussain Jaffri on February 25 to hear Sharif's statement in closed court. The judge ruled that the former prime minister's comments will only be publicly released after the court determined that nothing is “likely to tarnish the security, integrity and solidarity” of the country.

As Clinton prepares to visit subcontinent

US delivers a thinly disguised ultimatum to Pakistan

By Peter Symonds, 4 February 2000

Remarks by the US State Department's chief spokesman James Rubin last week are the clearest indication yet that Clinton's planned visit to the Indian subcontinent at the end of March will not include Pakistan on its itinerary. Any decision to snub the Pakistani military regime headed by General Pervez Musharraf will represent a further shift by the US towards India as a major partner and will add to instability in the region.

Striking Karachi newspaper workers appeal for support

24 December 1999

The following was received from striking workers at the Daily Finance in Karachi, Pakistan.

Nawaz Sharif faces possible death sentence in Pakistan court

By K. Ratnayake, 3 December 1999

Ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif was dragged before one of the country's notorious anti-terrorism courts in Karachi last Friday for a fifth time in eight days. The prosecution, acting on behalf of the country's new military junta, has filed a case but has requested until December 4 to formally present the charges. These are likely to include criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, attempted murder and hijacking—the last is the most serious and carries the death penalty.

Pakistan's military regime prepares IMF program

By Vilani Peris, 25 November 1999

Shaukat Aziz, the Pakistani military regime's finance minister, says he is reviewing an International Monetary Fund program for the country and having discussions with the business sector on ways and means to implement it.

Pakistani political elite supports military regime

By G. Senarathna and K. Ratnayake, 17 November 1999

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, speaking to a symposium in Toronto, Canada on November 8, said, “General Musharraf's intentions look honest when he says that he will be fair in his approach and that he is motivated by patriotism.” Bhutto's remarks, reported by the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, concerned the military chief who took power in a coup overthrowing the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on October 12. Her speech reflected the common approach of the major political parties in Pakistan to the military overthrow.

Pakistani autoworkers wage 18-month struggle against Suzuki

By Steve Dean, 2 November 1999

For almost 18 months, 150 automotive workers who were sacked from the Suzuki Motor plant in Karachi, Pakistan, have waged a struggle for reinstatement and for union recognition. Suzuki dismissed the casual workers last year after they formed the Pak-Suzuki Motor Company Star Workers Union and began to campaign for improved working conditions.

Pakistan's military regime to implement IMF dictates

By Keith Jones, 30 October 1999

Pakistan's new military government has signaled its readiness to implement economic policy changes demanded by the IMF and foreign investors—changes previous governments failed to implement for fear of igniting popular unrest or because of opposition from sections of Pakistani's landowning and business elite.

Pakistani military establishes martial law regime

By K. Ratnayake, 16 October 1999

Pakistani military coup leader, General Pervaiz Musharraf, effectively established a martial law regime early Friday morning. He proclaimed a state of emergency, suspended the constitution, terminated the parliament and appointed himself the country's Chief Executive. The declaration was backdated to October 12, the day on which the armed forces seized power in a coup.

US signals readiness to work with coup leaders in Pakistan

By Keith Jones, 14 October 1999

Pakistan's military, which ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Tuesday evening, appears to have quickly consolidated its control over the country without meeting resistance. But the coup leaders, more than 36 hours after seizing power, have yet to announce how the country of 140 million is to be governed.

Pakistan military ousts prime minister

By Keith Jones, 13 October 1999

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been ousted from power in a military coup.

US concerns over political stability in Pakistan

By K. Ratnayake and P. Symonds, 24 September 1999

Concerns in Washington about the stability of the Pakistan government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resulted in an unusual statement by an unnamed US State Department official warning that the US would “strongly oppose” any attempt by “political and military actors” to take power unconstitutionally. The remarks, originally quoted by the Reuters news agency on Tuesday, have since been confirmed by other senior State Department officials.