Tag Archives: Pakistan elections

Benazir Bhutto Charges Musharraf Aided Taliban Regrouping

Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party(PPP) charged that President Musharraf is partially responsible for the resurgence of the Taliban in areas of her nation as well as in Afghanistan. She claims the Taliban were crushed by American forces in Afghanistan and when they fled to safety in Pakistan, they were able to regroup. “They could not do that unless there is some support from the government or the intelligence.” She is casting her candidacy as the main force capable of halting Pakistan’s movement toward a government in which fundamentalist leaders exert control. Bhutto charges President Musharraf as using the fundamentalist militants in order to gain victory in the January election. She believes only her triumph in the election will result in a government dedicated to moving Pakistan out of medieval thinking and called for major education reforms of the religious madrassas schools. Her political ally, Nawaz Sharif’s petition to stand for public office was rejected by the Musharraf government.

Secretary of State Rice calls for “free and fair elections” in which all parties have equal access to the media, Benazir Bhutto is charging Musharraf with seeking to empower religious fundamentalist, and opposition leaders are denied the right to run for public office. There is a confusing mixture of hope and fear in the midst of an election in which America’s supposed ally is linking his fortunes to cooperating with religious fundamentalist leaders who support the Taliban, an enemy of the United States. A triumph by Musharraf whose fortunes are linked with those of George Bush would only result in aiding forces which are hostile to American interests. Does anyone wonder how the United States wound up in this situation? Is there a coherence in American foreign policy is a question the American people might well pose?

“I Am Not A Trouble Creator” Says Musharraf

President Musharraf made clear his determination to cooperate with any political party that gains victory in January elections for a new parliament. “I will try to work with anyone who comes to power after the elections,” he told his nation. The two main opponents of Musharraf, Awaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto have called off their planned boycott of the elections and will campaign vigorously in order to ensure that Musharrf does not gain control over the legislature. They feared a boycott would automatically ensure Musharraf’s political allies would completely control the government. In a surprising note, a poll by the International Public Opinion poll revealed that President Musharraf had made a dramatic rise in his popularity over the past month. Unfortunately, for President Musharraf, it turns out there is no such organization as the International Public Opinion poll, it was a fraud and was quickly discovered. His ratings most probably remain very low in the estimation of the Pakistan population.

A paranoid individual might connect President Musharraf to the phony poll, but at this point no one knows who are these people. Initially, they claimed their organization was based in Boston, then announced they were in Houston. The only certainty is there never was a poll.

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.

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.

Pakistan Situation Becomes Murky As Opposition Opposes State Of Emergency

President Musharraf’s announcement of elections in January did not relieve the anger of his political opponents. The Pakistan Muslim League and other parties stated bluntly they would not participate in any election held under a state of emergency which has, in effect, suspended the Constitution. Musharraf has arrested thousands of people and taken hostile TV stations off the air which will impact the possibility of conducting a fair and honest election. He has revamped the Pakistan Supreme Court and charged its Chief Justice with being corrupt. Supreme Court Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry angrily denied the charges and demanded Musharraf offer proof. In the meantime, an unnamed former US official has been quoted in the American press as stating the American government has contingency plans for safeguarding Pakistan’s nuclear facilities. “We can’t say, with absolute certainty that we know where they are,” said the source. Obviously, dispatching US troops into another nation in search of WMD has been tried on a previous occasion resulting in disastrous consequences.

China Supports Musharraf Actions On Martial Law

The Chinese government offered President Musharraf complete support in his imposition of martial law, removal of Supreme Court justices and arrest of hundreds of lawyers seeking establishment of constitutional government. Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Lui Jianchao said: “We believe the Pakistan government and people have the ability to solve their own problems and hope Pakistan could maintain stability and development.” After Musharraf initially announced postponement of elections for a year, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz yesterday said general elections would proceed according to schedule. As he spoke, a new Pakistan Supreme Court was sworn into office. It is expected they will support Musharraf’s bid for the presidency. Aziz promised there would be no censorship.

China continues its policy of cooperation with dictatorships because its economic development takes paf riority over other aspects of Chinese society. Musharraf apparently has backed down somewhat from his original draconian decisions to ignore elections. Most probably, with a stacked Supreme Court he feels comfortable imposing his will without fear of contradiction.