Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Stay Indoors

Pakistan's ousted chief justice has called on the country's people to take to the streets, in a bid to restore the constitution, following President Musharraf's announcement of emergency rule. Iftikhar Chaudhry has been a crucial figure in the crises of recent months - first sacked by Musharraf to widespread anger, then re-instated, and now both sacked and under house arrest, as are dozens of Musharraf's opponents.

Chaudhry's call is a bad idea. If ordinary members of the public were to start demonstrating throughout Pakistan, clashes with the military, and therefore both bloodshed and probably a civil war of sorts, would become inevitable. One good thing to be said for the days since Musharraf's decision on Saturday, is that they have passed off more peacefully than anyone could have imagined. As international pressure and behind-the-scenes talks with Benazir Bhutto and others take place in the coming days and weeks, we have to hope it's against the backdrop of a still-calm Pakistan. That, and not public protest, offers the best hope of a proper solution. The people should stay indoors.

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