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.