“There is blood on the steps of Pakistan’s Supreme Court,” said Ahsan. “The people of Pakistan have a right to protest, yet they have been brutally attacked. This whole situation is as noxious as the tear gas itself.”

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The crackdown on the protest came just two days after the Supreme Court, lead by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, ruled that the government had no right to blockade streets leading into the capital, nor could it prevent protests or stop the free-flow of traffic past government buildings.

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“We are looking at an obscene and unnecessary show of excessive force,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, South Asia Researcher for Human Rights Watch, who had come to observe the protests. “This has been wanton brutality against a professional group that is struggling to uphold the rule of law.” ~Time

While the world’s attention these days is focused, with good reason, on the crackdown in Burma, far more geopolitically significant troubles are erupting once again in Pakistan.  Musharraf has, of course, continued to pursue re-election after the amnesty for Sharif was summarily withdrawn, and the prospects for any kind of negotiated transfer or departure of Musharraf from the scene are now very poor.  With this latest ruling that he is eligible to run for another term as president backing him up, Musharraf’s intransigence will drag Pakistan over the edge of a cliff.  What Musharraf and his government are doing is different from the actions of the junta in Burma only in degree, but not in kind.  The comparison was not lost on the lawyers being assaulted:

“It’s just a shade short of Burma,” said one bedraggled lawyer, echoing an earlier statement by Ahsan. “Yeah,” said his companion. “But here they are attacking lawyers in suits instead of monks in saffron.”

And, of course, the regime doing the attacking is considered too valuable and useful to too many major powers for them to say or do anything.  It is vitally important that Washington come to realise that Musharraf is far more of a liability for the stability of Pakistan, and thus for U.S. interests in the region, than he is an asset.  Our association with his increasingly brutal and destructive rule can only drag our reputation further into the mud and make cooperation with any future post-Musharraf government that much more difficult.  Washington needs to consider how it will sustain the ties with Pakistan once Musharraf is no longer there.  It seems increasingly likely that Musharraf has overreached so often and exhausted all goodwill that he cannot long remain in office.  It is also crucial to understand that the policies that Washington has urged Musharraf to pursue have contributed to the current predicament.  To throw Pakistan into turmoil to save Kabul is not a good exchange.  Wouldn’t it be useful if we had an accomplished professional diplomat serving in Islamabad right about now…wherever did he go?