ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: LONDON FILE
Cable news resumes in Pakistan
November 8, 2007
Suddenly the TV, which had been flashing an annoying "sorry, the transmission has been interrupted" message all week, burst to life moments ago, the audio blaring BBC World.
So Pakistanis can now watch at least some international and domestic channels on their cable networks again. For the first time in days, they'll get a slightly clearer sense of what is actually happening in this country. We also understand that live satellite transmissions are now permitted out of Pakistan for foreign broadcasters. These may seem like small steps, but at least they are about moving forward.
This isn't an accident or a whim. President Pervez Musharraf's government is responding somewhat to criticism. Earlier today, he also said he'd hold elections in mid-February. That seemed to please the White House.
But not Benazir Bhutto. She told reporters today she thinks it's too vague. She is giving Musharraf a week to abandon his role as army chief.
What will be the "or else" part of that threat? She is still talking of a public march from Lahore to Islamabad next week. Given the explosions when she returned to Pakistan last month, it could be a violent affair. If the numbers really are big, it could also be embarrassing for Musharraf. He doesn't want or need that. What he needs is Benazir Bhutto onside. They are, it seems, negotiating, and the look and feel of Pakistan's emergency rule is changing quickly.