Tag Archives: Pakistan election

Is Bush Administration Helping Musharraf?

In a last minute surprising move the Bush administration has hired Democracy International to serve as monitors in order to ensure the Pakistan election tomorrow is conducted in a fair and honest manner. It previously contacted the Carter Center and the Asia Foundation but these groups declined to serve as monitors on grounds it was impossible to ascertain the honesty of the election due to security conditions. Democracy International has never served as a monitor for elections. Mark Scheider, of the International Crisis Group, blasted the Bush decision claiming it was unreasonable to “go in two or three days before the election and expect to be able to make a judgement.” He said this contradicts “lessons learned in 25 years of election monitoring.”

Meanwhile, back in Pakistan, Asif Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, which polls estimate will receive close to 50% of a fair vote, said the Musharraf government is harassing party workers, several have been killed and installations raided. The last minute Bush decision raises questions. Is it an attempt to lend international support to Musharraf if questions arise concerning the honesty of the election?

Pakistan Official Unwittingly Reveals Vote Rigging Plan

Pakistan President Musharraf has spoken bluntly against any attempt to claim vote fraud after the upcoming parliamentary elections. He promised vigorous action against any who try denying the legality of whatever is the outcome of the elections. However, through an inadvertent error, Pakistan’s attorney general, Abdul Malik Qayyum, has been captured on tape discussing planned vote fraud. His voice was caught telling a friend about Musharraf plans for victory by his own party. “They will massively rig to get their own people to win. If you can get a ticket from these guys, take it.” The attorney general denied the story claiming, “the conversation is clearly fabricated and cannot be denounced in strong words.”

Human Rights Watch stands by the accuracy of the story. It was made by a journalist who was talking with Qayyum when their conversation was interrupted by a phone call. The opposition Pakistan People’s Party of Benazir Bhutto said it was “profoundly shocked” byt the tape.

Pakistan in the coming weeks may well experience several severe confrontations if the PPP loses the election since currently polls indicate it will receive aroound 50% of the vote. What happens if vote tallies come up with a dramatic reversal?

Pakistan Vote Delayed For Six Weeks

Pakistan’s Election Commission announced a postponement of the scheduled election this month until February 18 despite protests by Benazir Bhutto supporters. Observers expected a vote on January 8 would have resulted in a massive sympathy vote for the fallen leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party. Nawaz Shariff, leader of the PML-N, and an ally of Bhutto, strongly urged continuation of the voting process next week. President Musharraf is expected to address his nation today to discuss the election as well as agree to incorporation of foreign observers in an investigation of the assassination of Ms.Bhutto.

The George Bush grand design for a coalition of Bhutto and Musharraf had already collapsed long before her death. If election results on February 18 result in a victory for Musharraf’s Pakistan Muslim League party, one can expect the nation of Pakistan to erupt in anger such as never before in its history. Bush simply does not grasp the anger toward Musharraf among many Pakistanis.

Bhutto Party Will Contest Elections

Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party announced that her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, would assume leadership of the party’s fight to gain victory in the upcoming election. Her 19 year old son Bilawai Bhutto Zardari, would be co-chairperson of the party although he will continue his studies at Oxford. PPP Vice Chairman Amin Fahim is expected to become the prime minister if they are successful in parliamentary elections and her husband made clear he would not assume any government leadership position. He claimed this succession was in Benazir Bhutto’s will but would not show the paper to reporters. Nawaz Shariff, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, made clear he would abandon any talk of boycotting the election and join with the PPP in a coalition to gain power and challenge President Musharraf.

Ms. Bhutto’s husband insisted there were bullet wounds in his wife’s body despite claims by the government she had not been shot and had died due to the bomb blast which threw her body against the sunroof of the car. Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Great Britain urged President Musharraf to go ahead with the election and offered to send a Scotland Yard team to investigate the killing. At this point, it is imperative to get at the truth concerning how she died. Unless this becomes clear, rumors and anger will be present in a large part of the nation and people will continue blaming President Musharraf for the death. Many are already now terming his political party, “Killer’s League.” The UN might also provide assistance as it did in the Lebanon assassination case.

One tragedy that is apparent is apparent inability of the PPP to bring forth leaders not associated with the Bhutto family. The idea of a college student being co-chair of a political party reflects this failure.

Issue Of Pakistan Election Creates Confusion

Pakistan continues to experience chaos in the aftermath of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. New reports indicate the original belief she was killed by bullets and shrapnel from the explosion were incorrect. The latest version is the shockwave fro the blast threw her body against the reinforced sunroof of the car and that led to her death. Bhutto supporters are still marching chanting slogans like “General Killer” since they believe the president of Pakistan was somehow responsible for the death of their leader. The Pakistan army has orders to fire on sight against any violent demonstrators and these encounters so far have resulted in the death of at least 31 people.

Acting Prime Minister Mohammedian Soomoro insists the elections “stan as they are” and there are no plans to cancel them. Nawaz Shariff, a past opponent, but recently an ally of Bhutto has threatened to boycott the election, but his final decision has yet to be made. Foreign leaders like England’s Gordon Brown and President Bush are urging no delay in the election. The issue of a delay is vital. The Pakistan Peoples Party is not ready at this moment to offer a full slate for the election and its leadership is in turmoil. Certainly, waiting a few weeks will not alter the democratic process. Shariff should have an opportunity to have discussions with PPP leaders and work out an electoral strategy. Bush and Brown are making a mistake in urging continuation of the election. If Musharraf’s party gains a large majority it will only lead to future riots. It is time to take a deep breath and allow the PPP an Shariff to decide when they wish the election to occur.