The decision of President Musharraf to impose a state of emergency is the root cause of current uncertainty on the part of opposition parties regarding whether or not they should participate in the January election for a new parliament. Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, initially stated his intent to boycott the election on grounds it was being rigged by Musharraf. Now, that the All Parties Democratic Movement has decided to participate, Sharif has had a change of heart. “I will lead the fight in every corner of the country if the APDM and other parties decide to contest elections.” He told representatives from 14 Muslim nations that Musharraf is not allowing a free election which makes difficult participating in what he considers to be a fraud. However, since some parties will participate he intends to change his mind. Meanwhile, Benazir Butto, head of the Pakistan People’s Party indicated she would be a reluctant participant in what she claims is a fixed election.
There is no question President Musharraf has created uncertainty and he continues making it difficult for an honest election to occur. Perhaps, it is time for him to completely end the state of emergency, invite representatives from Arab nations and the UN to monitor the election, and shift the election from January to about March which would provide opponents more ample time to present their views to the nation.