As violence hits Pakistani polling stations and campaign offices - someone wants to discourage voter turnout big style - Human Rights Watch has released a tape it says is the Pakistani Attorney General admitting that the elections will be "massively rigged".
Human Rights Watch said a journalist made the recording during a telephone interview with Attorney General Malik Qayyum when Qayyum took a second call without disconnecting the first, allowing his end of the second conversation to be overheard and recorded.There will be no exit polls conducted during the elections tomorrow, a ban imposed by Musharraf that the Bush administration is just fine with despite exit polls being key evidence in previous color-coded revolutions. The head of the organisation the US government has contracted to monitor elections is on record as saying exit polls shouldn't be conducted when they could lead to unwelcome unrest or revolutions.
In the recording, Qayyum, Pakistan's top legal officer, can be heard advising the caller to accept a ticket he is being offered by an unidentified political party for a seat, Human Rights Watch said.
"They will massively rig to get their own people to win," Qayyum said, according to a transcript released by Human Rights Watch. "If you get a ticket from these guys, take it."
The potentially incendiary recording was made the day that elections were announced for Jan. 8, according to Human Rights Watch, which said the Urdu-language recording could be heard on its Web site, www.hrw.org. The polls for the national assembly and four provincial legislatures were postponed until this Monday after large-scale violence ignited by the Dec. 27 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
The recording was certain to add to widespread fears that the polls will be rigged in favor of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, the party that supports the authoritarian and hugely unpopular president, Pervez Musharraf, a retired army general who seized power in a 1999 coup.
On Thursday, Musharraf warned the opposition that it must accept the outcome of Monday's voting, without resorting to massive street protests.
"Let there be no doubt that anyone will be allowed to resort to lawlessness in the garb of allegations about rigging in the elections," Musharraf was quoted as telling a seminar of government officials in Islamabad by the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan. "Let this serve as a warning to all those who think they can disturb the peace of the country. They will not be allowed. Do not test the resolve of the government."
"No agitation, anarchy or chaos can be acceptable," he said. "I assure you that the elections will be fair, free, and transparent and peaceful."