Pakistan Political Parties Debate Election Stance

The situation in Pakistan regarding the January election for parliament is still unclear as political parties explore their options. Although Secretary of State Rice said the release of 5,000 prisoners was a positive step toward restoring democracy, most political parties have yet to decide if Musharraf will actually allow a free vote. The 53 nation Commonwealth of nations bloc suspended Pakistan until that nation restores constitutional government. There appear to be two schools of thought among opposition parties as t the best strategy of combating Musharraf. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is supporting the position of its exiled leader, Nawaz Sharif that a boycott of the election is the best way to handle the current situation, but Pakistan People’s Party leader, Benazir Bhutto has authorized the party’s candidates to file papers as though they intend to run for office. However, Bhutto made clear that was not a final decision since she is working closely with her former opponent, Nawaz Sharif on how to restore democracy to Pakistan.

In the swirling confusion of Pakistan, President Bush did not help forces of democracy by announcing he had complete confidence in Musharraf’s commitment to democracy. Bush’s failure to take a strong stand by insisting on restoration of the constitution and allowing the sacked supreme court to resume its power sent a signal to Musharraf that America would stand by and watch democracy destroyed in Pakistan. Bush never ceases to announce his determination to fight terrorism, but when it comes to an actual case in which the United States can actually assist a nation to foster democracy, he walks away.

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