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?
Posted in Asia, George Bush, Human Rights, Peace, Politics, Republicans, United States, US Foreign Policy, World News
Tagged Bush, Democracy International, Musharraf, Pakistan election
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 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.