The triple whammy of Burma, Pakistan and Zimbabwe

Over the last 12 months, three countries have consistently kept us busy here in the Amnesty press office: Pakistan, Burma and Zimbabwe. And all three are in the news again today – and none of it is particularly positive.In Pakistan, hopes of political stability took a significant downturn when Nawaz Sharif’s party, the PML-N, pulled out of the ruling coalition of the new civilian government, according to The Times.It is all a bit complicated, but basically it comes down to an argument over the reinstatement of the judiciary – the majority of which were suspended in November under the former President Musharraf’s emergency measures.No side is really able to claim to be whiter than white and that’s half the problem. If Pakistan truly wants a fresh slate then it needs to have an effective legal system – something Amnesty has been calling for for ages, see here, here and here – and end the ongoing issue of impunity. To add to the chaos, all this was followed this morning by speculation over the mental health of Asif Ali Zardari, the leader of the PPP and favourite to become the country’s new president, as reported in today’s Daily Mail.Hopefully the impasse can resolve itself, but I’m not going to hold my breath.Meanwhile in Burma, reports are surfacing that the iconic – can she ever be described as anything less – Aung San Suu Kyi could well be on hunger strike. According to The Independent, The leader of the National League of Democracy, who won the last democratic elections in 1990 with 70% of the vote, has reportedly grown increasingly frustrated by the ruling military junta’s refusal to respond to her calls for renewed negotiations and is now refusing food.I have to say I can understand her frustration. Amnesty has made repeated calls on the United Nations to stop making hollow promises and start to act – all to no avail. Sadly, it now seems that she has decided to take action into her own hands – let’s hope that this will finally encourage the international community to step in before it’s too late.And finally Zimbabwe. Yesterday saw the rather farcical scenes from the national parliament, where President Mugabe opened the new session to a chorus of boos from MPs from the opposition MDC, who for the first time hold the majority of seats. You can see it all on the BBC website here. And with Morgan Tsvangirali refusing to play any subservient role to Mugabe in any possible government of “national unity” the crisis there seems likely to rumble on for a few more months to come.Here’s hoping tomorrow can bring some good news.

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