Pakistani Parliament Has Been Sent Home

*The Pakistani parliament has been sent home by Gen. Pervez Musharraf after having been paralyzed for several days by the chanting and filibustering of opposition politicians. They object to the sweeping powers he has arrogated to himself, including the “Legal Framework Order” of 19 unilateral amendments to the 1973 Constitution inserted by the general last summer. The Prime Minister, Zafarullah Jamali, presides over a small and shakey coalition majority. He managed to make a speech pledging his government to stay uninvolved with any attack on Iraq. This promise was aimed at defusing the sharp criticisms made of his government as a lackey of America, and the large rallies successfully organized by the United Action Council of fundamentalist parties. The pledge failed to accomplish its goal, however, and the parliamentarians decamped. It is still not clear how Pakistan will vote on the UN Security Council with regard to the Anglo-American resolution now on the table. One would have thought that Jamali’s speech foreclosed a “yes” vote, but some observers remain convinced that Pakistan will back the US when push comes to shove. A Pakistani cabinet meeting on the Iraq issue was reported to favor an abstention at the UNSC vote, and to hope that France or Russia would make the vote moot by exercising its veto. It is interesting that democratic sentiments have proved at least something of a road block for US policy with regard to both Turkey and Pakistan. This result brings into question the apparent conviction of the Bush administration hawks that a democratic Iraq will support the US, either.

*Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov insists that Russia will vote against the current UNSC Anglo-American resolution authorizing war against Iraq, saying he has seen no convincing justfication for such a move. He is reported to be saying that Russia will exercise its veto on the Security Council.

*Kurdish Peshmerga forces say they have fanned out along the Iraqi border with Turkey and are prepared to repel by force any Turkish incursion into Iraqi territory in conjunction with a US war on Iraq.

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