Democracy will not go back into the bottle

Gen Musharraf appears to have won this round, but the people of Pakistan are sure to win the next. What has changed is that the judges are on the side of the people.

It is a balmy November day in Karachi – cool breeze, warm sun, blue skies dotted with wispy clouds. The ubiquitous cheel birds circle lazily overhead, emitting occasional trilling calls. The jarring kaw-kaw of the feisty black crow atop an electric wire or a neem trees cuts through the sound of the heavy traffic on the congested streets of this sprawling metropolis, a microcosm of Pakistan's ethnic, religious and cultural diversity. The markets are buzzing with activity today – cell phones and Internet connections hopping, schools are having their annual concerts, the middle classes are attending birthday parties and cricket matches, while the rich participate in golf tournaments.

Indeed, on the face of it, life goes on pretty much as normal here in Karachi, despite General Pervez Musharraf's announcement of emergency rule on 3 November, which plunged the country back into de facto martial law. But the general's actions have highlighted another ongoing struggle that, in the long run, will affect everyone: the struggle not for physical survival or material benefit, but for a political system of representation and accountability that will empower the people and change the exploitative status quo.

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Himal Southasian