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OCTOBER 25, 1999 VOL. 154 NO. 16

To Our Readers

By DON MORRISON Editor, TIME Asia

Minutes after word got out last Tuesday evening that Pakistani soldiers were surrounding government buildings, correspondent Hannah Bloch was at newly toppled Prime Minister Muhammed Nawaz Sharif's official residence in Islamabad. There she found TIME reporters Syed Talat Hussain, Ghulam Hasnain and plenty of troops--but not much tension. "The soldiers seemed relaxed, and entire families had come out to see what was going on," says Bloch, who was on the scene so quickly for a good reason: she lives there (TIME is the only international publication with a full-time correspondent in Islamabad). "This coup was clearly not done in a way intended to frighten people."

    ALSO IN TIME
Pakistan: Return of the Generals
The army ends the country's decade-long experiment in democracy, ousting a discredited civilian government but remaining quiet about its own plans to rule

In Command:
The coup leader is a man of action

Viewpoint:
The army must give way to civilians quickly

A Legacy of Political Strife

Pakistan: On the Ropes
Sectarian violence adds to Nawaz Sharif's list of woes (10/18/99)

India-Pakistan: Tit for Tat
Tensions rise anew with the shooting down of a Pakistani military plane and a reported retaliatory missile firing (8/23/99)

  RELATED STORIES
CNN
Breaking news from South Asia

ASIAWEEK
Daily Briefing: Promises, Promises
Gen. Pervez Musharraf details Pakistan's new government (10/18/99)

Here We Go Again
After grabbing power for the fifth time in 52 years, Pakistan's generals may put in place a civilian government sooner rather than later (10/22/99)

  RELATED VIDEO
VideoCNN's Nic Robertson is in Pakistan with reaction to Musharraf's speech (October 18)
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Watch Gen. Pervez Musharraf's televised address (October 17)
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Whether the new government installed by General Pervez Musharraf will retain that mildness--or degenerate into the ham-fisted repression that has characterized the country's overlong experience with military rule--is the subject of this week's cover story. New Delhi bureau chief Michael Fathers, who entered Pakistan last week by walking across the border at Wagah, has reported too many stories on the failings of Pakistani democracy since he first worked in South Asia two decades ago. "There was no sign of any unusual activity at the border," he says, "and the immigration officials even apologized that the local bank at Wagah had been closed because of 'the events in Islamabad.' In the one-hour drive to Lahore [Sharif's hometown], I could see that the latest upheaval was far removed from the lives and concerns of the rural masses. This was in stark contrast to my last experience of military rule in Pakistan in 1979, soon after Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was executed by the regime that had ousted him. The country was in a state of fear, the media were heavily censored and thousands of the army's opponents were in jail."

Whether those grim days will return is difficult to predict, but the outlook is not encouraging--at least to judge from a development that touches us directly. The new regime last week placed Ghulam Hasnain, who reports from Karachi for TIME, CNN and other news organizations, on an "exit control list," preventing him from leaving the country. In the past Pakistani officials have used such registers to punish and intimidate their enemies. Hasnain's only crime is to have done his job as a journalist. We call on the new government to remove his name from the list--and signal to the world that, this time, military rule is not the same thing as repression.

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