Put Musharraf on trial! End the US alliance

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THE former military dictator of Pakistan, Musharraf who came to power by a military coup in 1999, and was the main ally in the region of US imperialism, was yesterday forced to resign as president to avoid being impeached by the Pakistani parliament.

His resignation was marked by tens of thousands of Pakistanis dancing in the streets and demanding that he be put on trial.

London responded with a message from the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown ‘wishing him well’, and with US representatives making the point that this was a very sad day indeed for the United States ruling class.

Musharraf tried to put a heroic spin on his decision to cut and run, saying in his resignation speech ‘No impeachment or no charge sheet can stand against me. . . But I think this is not the time for individual bravado. . . this is the time for serious thought.

‘In the interest of the country, I have decided to resign. The resignation will reach the National Assembly Speaker shortly.’

While the masses celebrated, the talk behind the scenes from the US and the UK was that Musharraf should be granted immunity from prosecution and be allowed to go into exile in Saudi Arabia.

This ‘had to be done’ so that an unnecessary revolutionary exciting of the Pakistani masses should not take place, during a trial of the ex-dictator, that could end with millions of Pakistanis insisting that Pakistan quits its alliance with the US, and that there must be a workers government that cares for the millions of Pakistanis who are poor and whose families go hungry.

This was the line that has been put to the ruling coalition by the US and the UK governments.

This ruling PPP/PML(N) coalition responded by asking Musharraf to quit to avoid impeachment.

This is despite the fact that the PML(N) chief Nawaz Sharif was removed as Prime Minister by Musharraf in his October 1999 army coup, and that the PPP chief Asif Ali Zardari, witnessed his wife Benazir Bhutto put under house arrest by Musharraf, who then did not provide enough security for her to foil the assassins.

The same Musharraf in the same year 2007, jailed hundreds of judges including the Chief Justice and declared a state of emergency that saw para-military police attacking and beating ordinary Pakistanis in the streets every day.

Musharraf in his resignation speech made it clear that impeachment could put the established order under threat from the masses.

There was a response to his position.

The Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi a member of the PPP said yesterday that leaders of the ruling coalition would discuss whether to prosecute Musharraf in court on the charges that were being planned for the impeachment process.

Qureshi would not say whether Musharraf might be granted a ‘safe exit’ – into exile in Saudi Arabia or Turkey.

‘That is a decision that has to be taken by the democratic leadership,’ said Qureshi.

Sadiqul Farooq, a spokesperson for the party of ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said legal guarantees were out of the question.

Sharif’s party had said earlier Musharraf should be tried for treason, which carries a maximum punishment of death.

Information Minister Sherry Rehman, a top PPP member, said last Saturday that the party ‘never indulges in the politics of revenge as it wants a stable Pakistan and a sustainable democracy in the country.’

The Western allies want Pakistan to resolve the crisis over Musharraf, without involving the masses in it so that the US can use the new regime to fight against Taleban and al-Qaeda militants in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

As far as they are concerned the millions of starving Pakistanis can continue to starve.

News Line calls on the Pakistani trade unions to call a general strike to insist that Musharraf is put on trial for treason and that the alliance with the US is ended. They must demand a workers government that will take emergency measures to aid the working class and the poor.