Monday, February 18, 2008

Third World Election Lesson

Counting has begun in elections in Pakistan, with the threat of violence very real in the case that the election is perceived as rigged. From the loss of credibility for the existing government which was occasioned by the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazier Bhutto, any outcome that secures his presidency for Musharraf will no doubt be seen as false. There is a quite likely outbreak to come of protests in that event, and many fear that the rigged outcome has already been arranged.

In a recent post I excerpted from tapes that were made of the judge complicit in corruption charges against Bhutto and imprisoned Supreme Court Chief Justice Chaudhry. The conversations establish his assistance in the corruption judgment against Bhutto, and his knowledge of rigging the present election.

More than 450 people have died in militant-related violence this year.

Fear of more violence kept many Pakistanis away from the polls, despite 80,000 troops backing up police.

Election official Mohammad Farooq estimated turnout at 35 pct at his polling station in Rawalpindi.

"Considering the security circumstances, that's good," he said as the polls closed.

An intelligence official said 11 people have been killed, seven in Punjab province, and 70 wounded in election violence since voting began.

In Bhutto's home province of Sindh, Home Secretary Arif Ali Khan said two people had been killed and 50 wounded in poll-related incidents.

"This is almost insignificant," said Khan, while expressing sorrow over the deaths.

The outbreaks that preceded closing of the polls didn't presage well for the aftermath. Should Musharraf end up with suspicious totals, things would be set for an outbreak of revolutionary dimensions.

....fears of violence dissuaded many of the country's 80 million eligible voters from leaving their homes, and voting in many places was slow.

At least nine people are reported to have been killed in election related violence on the eve of the vote and on the day itself.

In one incident in Daska district in the Punjab, a polling agent from one party reportedly shot dead an agent from a rival party after a dispute.

In another, on Sunday, at least four people, including a candidate, were reported to have been killed after an attack on former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's PML-N party.

BBC journalists also reported a number of voting irregularities across the country:

* BBC correspondent Riaz Sohail was shot at as he approached a polling station in Natario village, Sindh province, to investigate reports of ballot stuffing. Pakistan People's Party (PPP) activists and voters were also fired upon

* In Karachi, protesters from Awami National Party (ANP) blocked roads and stoned vehicles after an attack on their candidate

* Firing on a polling station in Gujranwala in the Punjab caused voting to be suspended

* The presiding officer of a polling station in east Karachi - a PPP stronghold - said his police escort took him to the wrong location, leaving him 5km (three miles) from the station, meaning polling was delayed by five hours

Nawaz Sharif, after casting his ballot in the eastern city of Lahore, accused the PML-Q party that backs President Musharraf of "committing rigging, and... attacking our candidates and supporters", AFP news agency reported.

The leader of Ms Bhutto's PPP party, her widower Asif Ali Zardari, has threatened to launch street protests in the event of vote-rigging.

Does this have a familiar ring to you? It sounds to me like the emboldened and desperate President Musharraf, never elected by popular vote, may be in the process of sacrificing the public interest to his hunger for power.

As in Kenya, there will not be an acceptance by an awakened opposition if the election results are obviously flawed.

I am watching with hopes that reason will prevail, and that crimes against his country will be impossible for Musharraf to commit. In the case he has rigged elections, I am optimistic for an outcome that will deny him the presidency by the action of the courts and laws.

I am hoping for just such a result for this country, in the coming 2008 elections, as well.

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Anonymous ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...


Traitor Bob has run off the rails today.

Fred Hiatt and company are losing their minds.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Truly mad, and the Presidents' day editorial was about "change" being not such a great idea, after all, what we need is trickle down economics. You think I'm kidding? go read and weep.

12:55 PM  

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