Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pakistan Elections

By Cernig

A new BBC World Service poll shows Musharraf of Pakistan plumbing depths of unpopularity even Dubya hasn't yet reached.
Only 15% of people asked said they approved of the job he was doing, while 72% disapproved.

That compared with an approval rate of 30% at the end of last year. Three-quarters of the people asked said they would like him to resign.
49% said Musharraf's re-election was illegal and invalid, the same number who aren't optimistic about Pakistan's future. Almost two-thirds of the people questioned said they thought the new parliament should re-instate sacked former chief justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Over half of those polled by the BBC think the elections will be rigged or unfairly run. It looks like they have good reason for thinking so.
The report [Bhutto] had with her on the day she died talks of election violence, intimidation and corrupt officials. According to the PPP, nothing has changed.

Senator Enver Beg says more than 100 parliamentary candidates who support President Pervez Musharraf are close relatives of the people who are running the elections, district by district.

"They will use government machinery, government finances and government funds. They will use government transport," he said.

"They have the police under their control. District officials have been transferred in violation of the law. I call this dishonest."

The PPP has filed more than 1,200 complaints with the election commission, but has received virtually no response.

"I'm sorry to say," said Senator Beg, "that the election commission is deaf, dumb and blind. They just take all these complaints and throw them in the dustbin."

...The international pressure group Human Rights Watch says the election commission simply isn't politically impartial.
As the BBC notes, the question isn't really whether the vote will be fair - but whether Pakistanis will accept an unfair vote in the interests of stability or will protest in the inevitable aftermath of accusation and denial.

Update Musharraf is warning the opposition parties to not even squeak.
They should not be under any illusion that they will bring people to the streets after the election. Nothing of that sort will be allowed," Musharraf said in comments at a seminar telecast on Thursday by state-run Pakistan Television.

"In this situation of extremism and terrorism, no agitation, anarchy or chaos can be acceptable."
While continuing to insist that the thing that walks like a duck and quacks like a duck isn't actually a duck:
Opposition parties have accused the government of trying to rig the polls to favor Musharraf's allies and have threatened to launch protests if they feel cheated.

"Don't show arrogance, if you win, and show grace, if you lose, accept the results," Musharraf said, rejecting the opposition's allegations.

"I am conscious of the fact that the elections should be free, fair and transparent and they have to be seen free, fair and transparent and also peaceful. The entire world is watching us," he said.

"I guarantee that these will be free and fair."

He said there could be lower-level tactical irregularities by candidates but the government would not be involved.

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