Tag Archives: Bhutto

Musharraf Bars Opponent From Ballot

President Musharraf has continually promised his nation and the world that a fair election would take place in January and that he would not hinder efforts by political opponents to engage in an open contest for votes. Nawaz Sharif, is a bitter enemy of Musharraf and was only reluctantly allowed to return to Pakistan from his exile. The Musharraf Election Commission has now banned Sharif’s name from appearing on the ballot on grounds that his past convictions made him ineligible to stand for office. Sharif and his former enemy, Benazir Bhutto have been exploring the possibility of boycotting the January election due to failure on the part of Musharraf to allow free elections.

Both Bhutto and Sharif returned to Pakistan with the full knowledge of Musharraf that past criminal charges were going to be dropped. It now appears Musharraf has gone back on his assurances. If Sharif is now banned, the same approach could be taken to Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People’s party, since she also was convicted years ago on criminal charges. In the volatile and confusing arena of Pakistan politics it is not unusual for individuals to be charged with some sort of crime. The nation of Pakistan expects leaders like Buhutto and Sharif to participate in the election, and this latest effort to quash their ability to run for office will mar the possibility of an honest election.

War Games In Washington, Political Games In Pakistan

Political confusion continues in Pakistan as opposition parties explore their alternatives in the January election for a new parliament. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned President Musharraf for “blindly’ obeying American orders on what to do in Pakistan. He said the decision whether or not to have his party boycott the elections on grounds it would not be conducted fairly awaits further discussion with Benazir Bhutto and her Pakistan People’s Party. The Punjab leader, Chaudhry Perez, expects Musharraf to nominate him to be the new prime minister and he pledged to make certain Musharraf played a key role in his administration. He envisions a troika leadership comprised of himself, Musharraf and army chief Ashfaq Kayani. Meanwhile there are reports the American military last year war gamed what to do in case Pakistan entered into a chaotic condition and concluded there would be need for US forces to seize control of nuclear facilities. According to Marine Colonel gary Anderson who participated in the war game, the bottom line of a nightmare scenario is having “nukes” in the hands of “Islamic extremists.”

Perhaps, another nightmare scenario is having US troops fight their way into control of Pakistan nuclear facilities.

Pakistan Political Parties Debate Boycott Of Elections

The political opposition to President Musharraf has yet to decide on a unified approach to dealing with the upcoming January elections. The All Parties Democratic Movement(APDM) issued a clear statement that it will engage in a boycott unless President Musharraf restores by December 15th the judiciary to its positions of authority. former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has also indicated his willingness to support a boycott unless Musharraf ensures the presence of an honest election and restoration of Pakistan Supreme Court judges to their posts. Sharif expressed his view that “we do not accept him(Musharraf) as a legitimate president. However, Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party(PPP) indicated she might participate in elections if guaranteed they will be fair. She believes the issue of the judiciary should be handled apart from the electoral process.

It is doubtful if a splintered political opposition will be able to attain the success it might achieve if united, either for a boycott or for participation. A great deal depends on the reality of a fair electoral process, that is something only Musharraf can guarantee. Will he go in that direction is the real issue.

Pakistan Political Parties Debate Election Stance

The situation in Pakistan regarding the January election for parliament is still unclear as political parties explore their options. Although Secretary of State Rice said the release of 5,000 prisoners was a positive step toward restoring democracy, most political parties have yet to decide if Musharraf will actually allow a free vote. The 53 nation Commonwealth of nations bloc suspended Pakistan until that nation restores constitutional government. There appear to be two schools of thought among opposition parties as t the best strategy of combating Musharraf. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is supporting the position of its exiled leader, Nawaz Sharif that a boycott of the election is the best way to handle the current situation, but Pakistan People’s Party leader, Benazir Bhutto has authorized the party’s candidates to file papers as though they intend to run for office. However, Bhutto made clear that was not a final decision since she is working closely with her former opponent, Nawaz Sharif on how to restore democracy to Pakistan.

In the swirling confusion of Pakistan, President Bush did not help forces of democracy by announcing he had complete confidence in Musharraf’s commitment to democracy. Bush’s failure to take a strong stand by insisting on restoration of the constitution and allowing the sacked supreme court to resume its power sent a signal to Musharraf that America would stand by and watch democracy destroyed in Pakistan. Bush never ceases to announce his determination to fight terrorism, but when it comes to an actual case in which the United States can actually assist a nation to foster democracy, he walks away.

Senator Biden: What Does It Take For Bush To Grasp Reality!

Foreign Relations chairman, Senator Joseph Biden, lashed out against President Bush’s latest statement in support of Musharraf in Pakistan when he said, “And I do believe he is going to end up getting Pakistan back on the road to democracy.” Biden asked: “What exactly would it take for the president to conclude Musharraf has crossed the line? Suspend the constitution? Impose emergency law? Beat up and jail his political opponents and human rights activists?” Of course, these are the very things Musharraf has done in Pakistan. The political opponents cited by Senator Biden are moving toward a boycott of the upcoming elections because it is doubtful that President Musharraf will actually allow a democratic process to unfold, despite Bush’s hopes. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Nawaz Sharif is urging Benazir Bhutto, to go along with her Pakistan People’s Party executive committee which voted for a boycott.

Hopefully, the American public has finally understood the underlying weakness of their president, he is incapable of learning from experience. One again, Bush is placing all the chips on a failed pseudo-dictator who is now an outcast in his own nation. Just about every major political party in Pakistan stands opposed to the rule of Musharraf, but Bush is confident the reverse is true. Former political enemies like Benazir Bhutto and Nqaz Sharif are banding together in a coalition, but Bush is oblivious to the obvious– Musharraf is no longer a respected leader and the last thing he desires or can accomplish is placing Pakistan back on the road to democracy.

Pakistan Political Parties Consider Electoral Boycott

Pakistan’s political opposition to the rule of General Musharraf is considering boycotting the upcoming parliamentary elections since they fear there will be no honest vote. Benazir Bhutto of the Pakistan People’s Party is discussing with her followers the possibility of refusing to take part in what most probably will be a rigged election. She notes that 25,000 ballots are being sent to each constituency which can be used to ensure victory for the Musharraf backed Muslim League. PTI Chief Imran Khan is beginning a hunger strike in protest to the suspension of the Constitution, but the Muttahda Majis-e-Amai(MMA) stated it would be involved in the election because boycotting would only ensure victory for the Muslim League.

Pakistan is confronting an unusual situation since apparently there are efforts on the part of Musharraf to stack the deck for his political supporters. Ordinarily, the Pakistan Supreme Court could halt such activities, but it has been replaced by Musharraf stooges. Chief Justice Abdul Dogar just ruled, “exceptional measures can be taken in exception al circumstances and the doctrine of necessity can also be applied.” In simple Pakistani, this means Musharraf can do anything he damn well pleases. Of course, this creates a dilemma for the Bush administration which backs the Pakistan leader while also claiming America wants democracy to triumph.

Pakistan Foreign Office Dismisses US Threat

Muhammad Sadiq, a spokesperson for the Pakistan Foreign Office dismissed warnings from US envoy, Negroponte, for an end to the state of emergency by saying, “This is nothing new. The United States has been saying this for many days. He has reiterated it.” General Musharraf is insisting the security of his nation comes first and he will not back down from the current state of emergency until conditions have improved. In the meantime, the provincial assemblies in Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan have been dissolved and caretaker governments established. Benazir Bhutto praised the United States for insisting on an end to the state of emergency and restoration of democracy. But, in response to questions about future relations with Musharraf, she responded; “This nation is waiting for General Musharraf to give a date to retire as Army Chief.”

A problem facing American foreign policy aims is that President Bush completely misread Musharraf just as he thought President Putin of Russia was a budding democrat. General Musharraf has been close to Islamic parties which are conservative and he undoubtedly is hesitant about linking with Buhtto who is much more in the moderate class. If he gets closer to her Pakistan People’s Party, the president runs the risk of alienating his conservative Muslim supporters. Ironically, the religious conservative groups of the Nawaz League are drawing closer to moderate Bhutto which creates a complex array of conflicting groups.

Tangled Mess Continues In Pakistan

The military government of President Musharraf is both engaged in fighting militants in the northwest areas of Pakistan as it battles political opponents throughout the nation. Gelicopter gunships blasted away at suspected bunkers of militant in the north and claimed to have killed at least forty. In the mean time, police baton-charged a rally of the Pakistan People’s Party(PPP) in Gujranwala and arrested over 200. A spokesperson for the PPP claims that at least 12,000 activists have been arrested throughout Pakistan. John Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State arrived in the nation and contacted Benazir Bhutto who heads the PPP. He urged her to continue efforts to unite political parties in an attempt to create a coalition for democracy in Pakistan.

The Bush administration is now caught in a dilemma. It has been a strong and fervent supporter of the Musharraf government while also arguing democracy must be fostered in Pakistan. There apparently is emerging a new democratic union of political parties, but this group is extremely hostile to Musharraf and will not work with his administration. What then, does the United States do? What if it comes down to Musharraf or the new coalition? One can only suspect if past history hold true, the Bush administration is completely confused on how to handle a complex foreign policy issue.

Towards A Government Of National Consensus In Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, met with US Consul General Bryan Hunt who asked her if it was possible to work with President Musharraf in order to extricate Pakistan from the current crisis. She informed the American diplomat is was extremely difficult working with a man “who instead of taking us forward toward democracy took us backward toward military dictatorship.” Ms. Bhutto is working with all opposition parties in an effort to create a government based on the principle of a national consensus that democracy offered their nation the best opportunity to create a vibrant society and deal with issues of militancy. In the meantime, students, lawyers and journalists have formed the Free Pakistan Movement under leadership of Jemima Khan.

The United States is obviously concerned an Islamic fundamentalist government might seize control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Ms. Bhutto assured Mr. Hunt that her consensus government would not allow such an event to occur.

President Musharraf Continues Arresting Opposition Leaders

President Musharrafg of Pakistan continues insisting his nation is experiencing a crisis which necessitates a state of emergency being called and refuses to allow opposition leaders to openly protest his decisions. Yesterday, three leaders of the Bhutto led Peoples Party of Pakistan (PPP) were arrested. Ms. Bhutto said there could not be free elections if Musharraf is openly allowed to run for office while opposition leaders are in jail. She has reached out to her former opponents and indications are they are ready to cooperate against the Musharraf rule. Nawaz Sharif, whose party has long opposed Bhutto announced: “We are ready to set aside our differences with the PPP, and work for the return of a democratic rule.”

The only true success achieved by President Musharraf in the past few weeks is finally persuading competing political parties to unite in a coalition for democracy in their nation. This may well be the most important change occurring in Pakistan and it holds open opportunities for success not just in establishing a democratic Pakistan, but in creating an impetus to effectively deal with militants in the northwest regions of the nation.