Bhutto’s Supporters Demand Election Proceeds

The government of President Msusharraf indicated it supported postponement of the scheduled election next week until February in the aftermath of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. However, leaders of her Pakistan Peoples Party insisted they wanted an immediate election and opposed any delay. Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaking for the PPP said: “We are ready for elections and we do not want a delay. We demand elections be held on January 8th.” His demand was supported by Buhtto ally, Nawaz Shariff, who also wants to proceed with an election. Shariff also noted armored cars are provided federal officials for protection, but none are made available to opposition candidates. Many foreign observers believe Musharraf is trying to delay the election because he fears there is a massive “sympathy vote” ready to be cast for PPP candidates.

The Musharraf government indicated it was opposed to any investigation of the Bhutto killing that involved foreign observers. Acting Prime Minister Soomro, bluntly stated: “We are a sovereign country, and we have the expertise to investigate.” No one denies that Pakistan can conduct investigations. The problem is who is doing the investigating and exactly what are they seeking to investigate. The absence of foreign involvement will result in failure to believe conclusions, not merely by the rest of the world, but by the people of Pakistan.

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