Police in Pakistan arrested hundreds of lawyers protesting emergency rule for a second day on Tuesday. President Pervez Musharraf suspended the country’s constitution over the weekend as the Supreme Court prepared to bar him from serving another term as president. Musharraf said the judiciary had been hobbling his efforts to fight Islamic extremists. Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, whom Musharraf fired on Saturday, urged lawyers to keep the protests going. “The day will come when you'll see the constitution supreme,” Chaudhry said.
What the commentators said
The U.S. has to stand by Musharraf, said Lee Smith in Slate. Pakistan’s military is the nation’s “citadel of modernity.” Musharraf is fighting Islamists “in caves” and in his own ranks, and keeping Pakistan’s nuclear bombs out of the hands of extremists in the bargain. “There is no guarantee that anyone else on the horizon is willing to tackle that job for Washington.”
Washington has made a “Faustian bargain,” said Newsday in an editorial. Musharraf has trampled on “every democratic principle” the U.S. stands for, but the Bush administration has no choice but to “back a tyrant” to dodge a “greater danger to U.S. national security.” Once again, “the dream of democracy has turned into a nightmare.”
This is an opportunity to stand up for what’s right, said Joshua Kurlantzick in The New Republic Online. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has threatened to cut off the “gargantuan sums of money” the U.S. has sent Pakistan—$10 billion since 9/11 and counting—so what are we waiting for? “It's time for America to cut the cord on Musharraf and throw in entirely with the country's democratic forces.”