Pakistan: The constitutional and political crisis deepened. On 19 August Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif received strong support from the members of the National Assembly and said he will not resign, defying the ultimatum by the protestors that he resign by Wednesday evening.
A spokesman for the Pakistan Army called on the political parties to resolve the crisis through "meaningful dialogue." That statement repeated the position of Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif in talks about security with the Interior Minister and the governor of Punjab Province on Monday.
The Army permitted protestors to enter the "Red Zone" to protest outside the National Assembly. Protestors did not enter the parliament building and did not invade the prime minister's official residence, as they had threatened on the 19th.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan also is involved. It summoned the leaders of the opposition to a hearing on allegations that their protest is unconstitutional.
Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said that the Constitution provided a procedure to remove the prime minister, and anyone who would try to employ any unconstitutional step would create chaos and anarchy. "No one can be allowed to spread anarchy in the name of freedom of expression," he said.
The Attorney General argued that any effort to remove the government by coercion was illegal and unconstitutional. Therefore, the sit-ins by the PTI and PAT (the opposition parties) to remove the present government violated articles 18, 19 and 20 of the Constitution.
One of the opposition parties, the PAT, has agreed in principle to hold talks with the government, but wants the PTI to join them. The government said that the resignation of the prime minister is not open for discussion.
During this Watch, the BBC reported both opposition parties have begun talks with the government.
Comment: The protests have been large and disruptive, but they have not been violent. The government's direction to avoid using force against the protestors appears to have contributed to the maintenance of civil order.
The Supreme Court's intervention has become a normal feature of political unrest since 2008 when Musharraf was forced from office.
However the Army's two public statements to the political parties in three days are unusual and ominous. When General Kayani was Chief of Army Staff, he consistently made it clear that he supported the elected, civilian government. His successor, General Raheel Sharif, has provided no such assurances. Pakistani commentators judged the Army's statements are inappropriate and recall General Zia ul-Haq's justification for overthrowing the government in 1977.
Israel-Gaza Strip: The Gaza War resumed in earnest on the 20th. The Palestinians fired 150 rockets into Israel on 20 August. Israel sources say they fired 213 rockets since they broke the ceasefire. Israeli aircraft attacked 25 targets. Twenty-two Palestinians have died and 120 have been wounded by the Israeli attacks. The Palestinian rockets caused no injuries and damaged no property.
Palestinians said that an Israeli air strike attempted a decapitation operation against the commander of Hamas military wing, Mohammed Deif. The attack failed to kill him, but did kill his wife and child. An Israeli minister said Deif was a legitimate target, just like Osama bin Laden.
Arab media reported that an Israeli negotiating delegation returned to Cairo on the 20th. Talks have not resumed yet.
Comment: One consequence of Operation Protective Edge is a severe shortage of water in the Gaza Strip. Air attacks destroyed much of the water system. Some of the worst effects of the water shortage are the systemic effects from the destruction of electric power plants. Electricity drives the pumps that supply the water to the population as well as the refrigeration needed for medical supplies. There is a danger of cholera and other public health-related illnesses in the Gaza Strip
Liberia: Residents of the slum neighborhood, West Point, clashed with government soldiers and police today over the government's action to quarantine the entire neighborhood because it is a center of the Ebola outbreak. Security forces fired tear gas at angry crowds, but no injuries have been reported.
The government imposed a curfew at night in Monrovia, as another measure to help prevent the spread of the disease. It imposed a quarantine in Dolo, a town 25 kms from Monrovia, closing public entertainment centers.
"We have been unable to control the spread due to continued denials, cultural varying practices, disregard for the advice of health workers and disrespect for the warnings by the government," President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said on Tuesday evening
Kenya has blocked travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Cameroon has closed its borders with Nigeria and refuses to allow border crossings. Somalia has refused to accept peacekeepers from West African states.
Comment: Liberia took the action because crowds in West Point attacked an Ebola treatment center in West Point. Patients escaped and bloody bed clothes and other items were stolen. All of the patients have been captured, but the Liberian public health system has collapsed. The population of West Point is said to be 50,000.
Serious outbreaks of disease almost always become political issues eventually because of the interaction of two living systems - the disease itself and the populations it effects. The disease is containable by treatment and by population controls. However, in an increasingly integrated global economy, people and goods must move. Population controls, such as travel bans, also hinder the timely arrival of essential assistance from the outside.
Healthy living systems reproduce, which means, in the absence of a cure, the disease will find a way to spread because of the movements of infected people, the other living system. The UN World Health Organization reported on 16 August that there were 2,240 Ebola cases in four countries - Nigeria 15; Sierra Leone 848; Liberia 834; Guinea 543. The total numbers of deaths was 1,229.
End of NightWatch
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