Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Pakistani-Americans Offer Unsolicited Advice

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Pakistani-Americans Offer Unsolicited Advice

Article excerpt

Has anyone in President George W. Bush's administration asked Pakistani Americans for advice on U.S. foreign policy in Pakistan? Days after the Dec. 27 assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the Washington Report asked Dr. Agha Saeed, a well-known professor of political science and philosophy who teaches at California State University East Bay Hayward, for his opinions on the crisis in his native country.

Born in Quetta, Pakistan, Dr. Saeed received his Ph.D. in political science jointly from Harvard University and Berkeley. Chairman of the American Muslim Alliance, a national organization which seeks political empowerment of the American Muslim community, he is also the host of Global Forum TV, a program which focuses on international issues. Dr. Saeed had just spent weeks traveling across the U.S. speaking to Pakistani Americans about the crisis in their homeland.

"This administration hasn't asked for our advice because it's in league with President Pervez Musharraf," Dr. Saeed bluntly told us. "Even The New York Times is in cahoots. There has been no serious analysis of the crisis."

On Nov. 3 of last year General Musharraf issued the Provisional Constitution Order No. 1 of 2007, immediately amending Pakistan's Constitution. Dr. Saeed showed us a translation of this stunning document, which, he explained, turns Pakistan's constitution into a sham. Not only does it allow the president "from time to time to amend the constitution, as is deemed expedient," but it also ensures that the Supreme Court, a High Court, or any other court "shall not have the power to make any order against the president or the prime minister or any person exercising powers or jurisdiction under their authority." In addition, Dr. Saeed pointed out, "no judgment, decree, writ, order or process whatsoever shall be made or issued by any court or tribunal against the president or the prime minister or any authority designated by the president." Finally, no court "shall call?into question this Order." As a result, Pakistan's courts are powerless to rein in Musharraf.

"No one man should be able to amend a country's constitution. This is a farce," Dr. Saeed said. The day after he tampered with the constitution, Musharraf "handcuffed Pakistan's media," Dr. Saeed noted, showing us another document. Musharraf took away the freedom of the press to report on, or to criticize, the government by insisting that every reporter sign "a 14-page government-mandated code of conduct." While it's understandable that no criticism is permitted from Pakistan, Dr. …

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