Musharraf Sets Elections

Rick Moran
There is good news and bad news from Pakistan.

The good news is that
elections will be scheduled "before January 9" of next year:

President General Pervez Musharraf on Sunday announced that the general elections would be held before January 9, within 60 days of the National Assembly’s (NA) dissolution on November 15. Assemblies’ dissolution:

“The NA will stand dissolved on November 15 on completion of its five-year constitutional tenure, and the provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan will be dissolved on November 20 before their five-year tenure completes so that the elections for the national and provincial assemblies are held on the same day,” the president told a press conference. He said he would request the Election Commission (EC) to hold general elections as soon as possible.

“I expect that the elections will be held before January 9,” he said, adding that the provincial assemblies were to complete their tenures on different dates but they would be dissolved on the same day.


The bad news is that the State of Emergency declared by Musharraf two weeks ago will not be lifted prior to the elections nor apparently any time soon following them:
President General Pervez Musharraf on Sunday refused to give a date for lifting the state of emergency, and said it would continue during the electoral process even beyond the general elections to reinforce Pakistan’s fight against terrorism.

“In view of the disturbed situation and fight against terrorism, emergency will ensure transparent polls,” he replied to a question about the possibility of fair polls during the emergency.

He said all those arrested on political grounds would be released to participate in the polls. “But we will take action and arrest those who attempt to create anarchy. We must not allow [political disturbance and anarchy],” he said, adding that emergency would also reinforce the fight against terrorism, giving the army a lead role.

So political prisoners will be released as long as they behave themselves by not agitating against Musharraf? "Free and fair" all the way.

If that weren't bad enough, Musharraf will not reinstate the Supreme Court judges he had placed under house arrest nor does he plan any power sharing talks with ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

As for Mrs. Bhutto, she's been busy:

Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who last month survived Pakistan's worst terror attack, will press ahead with a rally as opposition groups said more than 15,000 supporters have been arrested under emergency rule. Bhutto, detained in Islamabad on Nov. 9 before a protest, may be arrested again to prevent her leading a march from Lahore back to the capital, Farhatullah Babar, Bhutto's spokesman said. Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azeem said rallies are illegal. He didn't say whether Bhutto would be placed under house arrest.
The rallies may be illegal but the opposition is going to have problems organizing them since so many party workers are in jail:
More than 7,500 workers from Bhutto's party have been arrested, spokeswoman Sherry Rehman said in a phone interview from Lahore.

At least 5,000 supporters from former premier Nawaz Sharif's group have been detained, Ahsan Iqbal, spokesman for the party said in a phone interview from Islamabad.

``Most of our senior leaders, at least 12 of them, are under arrest or detained,'' Iqbal said. ``The rest of us are in hiding.''

As many as 2,500 supporters of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious party, have been arrested, spokesman Munawar Hassan said. Another 600 workers of the Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal, a coalition of religious parties, have also been held, Liaquat Baloch, spokesman for the alliance said on the phone.

``This is the lull before the storm,'' said Ahmed Awais, a spokesman for opposition lawmaker Imran Khan. ``The government is pushing society into a position where people from all levels will come out onto the streets to fight.''
Musharraf has said he will resign from the military once the Supreme Court decision on the question of whether he can run for a second term is decided. That decision is expected by the end of this week and since the Pakistani President has arrested those judges in opposition to him and appointed ones more friendly, his re-election is a foregone conclusion.

 
There is good news and bad news from Pakistan.

The good news is that
elections will be scheduled "before January 9" of next year:

President General Pervez Musharraf on Sunday announced that the general elections would be held before January 9, within 60 days of the National Assembly’s (NA) dissolution on November 15. Assemblies’ dissolution:

“The NA will stand dissolved on November 15 on completion of its five-year constitutional tenure, and the provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan will be dissolved on November 20 before their five-year tenure completes so that the elections for the national and provincial assemblies are held on the same day,” the president told a press conference. He said he would request the Election Commission (EC) to hold general elections as soon as possible.

“I expect that the elections will be held before January 9,” he said, adding that the provincial assemblies were to complete their tenures on different dates but they would be dissolved on the same day.


The bad news is that the State of Emergency declared by Musharraf two weeks ago will not be lifted prior to the elections nor apparently any time soon following them:
President General Pervez Musharraf on Sunday refused to give a date for lifting the state of emergency, and said it would continue during the electoral process even beyond the general elections to reinforce Pakistan’s fight against terrorism.

“In view of the disturbed situation and fight against terrorism, emergency will ensure transparent polls,” he replied to a question about the possibility of fair polls during the emergency.

He said all those arrested on political grounds would be released to participate in the polls. “But we will take action and arrest those who attempt to create anarchy. We must not allow [political disturbance and anarchy],” he said, adding that emergency would also reinforce the fight against terrorism, giving the army a lead role.

So political prisoners will be released as long as they behave themselves by not agitating against Musharraf? "Free and fair" all the way.

If that weren't bad enough, Musharraf will not reinstate the Supreme Court judges he had placed under house arrest nor does he plan any power sharing talks with ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

As for Mrs. Bhutto, she's been busy:

Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who last month survived Pakistan's worst terror attack, will press ahead with a rally as opposition groups said more than 15,000 supporters have been arrested under emergency rule. Bhutto, detained in Islamabad on Nov. 9 before a protest, may be arrested again to prevent her leading a march from Lahore back to the capital, Farhatullah Babar, Bhutto's spokesman said. Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azeem said rallies are illegal. He didn't say whether Bhutto would be placed under house arrest.
The rallies may be illegal but the opposition is going to have problems organizing them since so many party workers are in jail:
More than 7,500 workers from Bhutto's party have been arrested, spokeswoman Sherry Rehman said in a phone interview from Lahore.

At least 5,000 supporters from former premier Nawaz Sharif's group have been detained, Ahsan Iqbal, spokesman for the party said in a phone interview from Islamabad.

``Most of our senior leaders, at least 12 of them, are under arrest or detained,'' Iqbal said. ``The rest of us are in hiding.''

As many as 2,500 supporters of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious party, have been arrested, spokesman Munawar Hassan said. Another 600 workers of the Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal, a coalition of religious parties, have also been held, Liaquat Baloch, spokesman for the alliance said on the phone.

``This is the lull before the storm,'' said Ahmed Awais, a spokesman for opposition lawmaker Imran Khan. ``The government is pushing society into a position where people from all levels will come out onto the streets to fight.''
Musharraf has said he will resign from the military once the Supreme Court decision on the question of whether he can run for a second term is decided. That decision is expected by the end of this week and since the Pakistani President has arrested those judges in opposition to him and appointed ones more friendly, his re-election is a foregone conclusion.