Tag Archives: PPP

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.

Musharraf–Uniter-In-Chief?

The tragic death of Benazir Bhutto has left her nation in shambles as members of the Pakistan Peoples Party march through the streets shouting slogans about the “General Killer” who they blame for her assassination. The out pouring of sympathy and respect for the brave Pakistan leader has, unfortunately, transformed a flawed person into an heroic icon. Ms. Bhutto, as prime minister, supported formation of the Taliban and undoubtedly was well aware that nuclear knowledge was being conveyed to other parts of the world. But, she did possess the quality of bravery and this is something President Musharraf must now demonstrate during the long night his nation now confronts.

What can President Musharraf do in order to unite his grief stricken country? He must first recognize that a victory for his Pakistan Muslin League in next week’s election will only further fracture Pakistan. Musharraf must rise above party concerns and reach out to the PPP and his opponent, Nawaz Shariff. A plea from the president to his countrymen to vote for PPP candidates and those of Shariff would resonate with people chanting hatred toward him. This approach would cast him as a statesman who has abandoned partisan party politics in order to unify his divided nation. He could appoint a bipartisan commission to thoroughly investigate and reform the notorious ISI which is believed by many to have had a role in the assassination. Regardless of whether the rumors are accurate, the leadership of the ISI must be thoroughly revamped in order to restore public confidence.

President Musharrf has never displayed statesmanlike qualities because in his heart there is a hunger for order and control. He may wind up selecting the road of authoritarianism or he can walk down the more precarious road to democracy. If PPP candidates and Shariff win control of Parliament, they can unite with the president and address issues of poverty and terrorism. The alternative is further division, further chaos, and further terrorism.

Who Killed Bhutto? Where Does Musharraf Fit In Story?

President Bush immediately blamed Al-Qaeda or the Taliban or both for the murder of Benazir Bhutto. Words like “extremists” or “terrorists” are being cited for the murder of a leader who was challenging the regime of President Musharraf. However, in the streets of Pakistani cities, the cries are somewhat different as grieving followers of the fallen leader blame President Musharraf and the “agencies” of his government such as the Intelligence service. Yesterday, a leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, which supports Musharraf, was blown up by a roadside bomb, undoubtedly by followers of Bhutto.

Lost in the anguish and confusion of the moment is the reality behind Benazir Bhutto who is being transformed into a fallen martyr. In a story published in the London Review of Books, Tariq Ali pointed out that Benazir’s own brother, Murtaza, who demanded a return to the original secular values of the Pakistan People’s Party, was murdered by police while she was prime minister of the nation. When Benazir’s niece called and asked why witnesses rather than the murderers were being arrested, her aunt replied: “Look,you’re very young. You don’t understand things.”

Over all the confusion and anger and hatred and fear that is now taking place in Pakistan hovers the shocking power of Pakistan’s ISI, the Inter Service Intelligence. Daniel Pearl, who was murdered by extremists, made his appointment with the militants while sitting in an office of an ISI commander’s office. Pakistani analysts are arguing as to whether or not the murder occurred due to al-Qaeda-Taliban elements or whether the murder was planned in the offices of the ISI. At this point, no one knows. Shortly before she returned to Pakistan, the Daily Times of Pakistan reported a statement by al-Qaeda leader, Baitullah, in which he claimed to have trained hundreds of suicide bombers to kill her. In all honesty, it is doubtful if ay truth will emerge in the coming months about her death. In the meantime, Bush and Musharraf claim it was the work of al-Qaeda, but to the people now raging through the streets of Pakistan, it was planned and executed by agencies in the Musharraf government.

Thai Military Rejected In Voting

Two years ago, the military of Thailand overthrew the government of Prime Minister Thaskin Shinawatra on charges his rule threatened the success of democracy in their land. This weekend, voters made Thaskin’s People Power Party the most dominant in the incoming Thai legislature. Thaskin did extremely well in southern regions of the nation which contain a large Muslim population. It appears the minority Muslims reject military actions in the south and expect that Thaskin would address their needs. However, it is doubtful if military leaders will allow Thaskin to return to the nation. Thaskin was a prominent businessman who promised to use his expertise in order to revitalize the Thai economy.

There is little hope, at this point, of allowing Thaskin to return to power. Military leaders doubt his democratic beliefs and fear he would draw upon his fortune in order to establish himself as a power within the country. Perhaps, the only hope is for some other leaders in the PPP to assume power and work with the military in order to establish democracy in the nation. Thaskin will have to watch from the sidelines.

Pakistan Election Still Unclear Say Musharraf Opponents

The political opponents of President Musharraf in Pakistan are still debating their course of action — participate in the January election or institute a boycott in protest against the unconstitutional actions by the president. Nawaz Sharif, who recently returned from exile to lead his party, said he had worked out any differences with Benazir Bhutto who heads the Pakistan People’s Party over what to do about participating in the election. He termed the election a “fraud” and charged Musharraf with having “murdered the judiciary” by his dismissal of the Supreme Court. Benazir Bhutto told representatives of Arab and other countries that she was holding open the option of boycotting the election. She told the American representative that creating a democratic Pakistan was the only way to fight “the plague of terrorism.” Bhutto intends to coordinate her electoral actions with her former enemy, Sharif.

The European Union is still undecided as to whether or not it will send observers to the Pakistan election. There is still a great deal of confusion regarding which parties will actually participate in an election that most objective observers regard as tainted by the actions of Musharraf to dismiss a Supreme Court and to impose a state of emergency.

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.

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.