Pakistan Elections By Jan. 9 Emergency not to be Lifted Jama’at-i Islami Slams Bhutto

Gen. Musharraf says he will keep the State of Emergency in place but will dissolve parliament and hold new elections for it before Jan. 9 under a caretaker government. Provincial elections will be held at the same time. The Northwest Frontier Province, which is ethnically mostly Pushtun and some parts of which have become hotbeds of Muslim radicalism, had elected the Islamic Action Council (called MMA after its Urdu name) in the 2002 elections, but Musharraf has put a caretaker government in place there.

Benazir Bhutto, the leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, demanded in response that the state of emergency be lifted and gag laws abandoned before the election, if it was to be free and fair.

The fundamentalist Jama’at-i Islami and the right of center Muslim League (N) are saying that they will boycott the election if it is held under emergency laws.

I saw Qazi Hussain Ahmad (leader of the Jama’at-i Islami) on Aljazeera denouncing Benazir Bhutto as in reality working hand in glove with Musharraf to become his prime minister, and as only pretending to play an oppositional role. He predicted that she would gradually move closer to Musharraf and drop the pretence.

The USG Open Source Center translates comments on GEO of Fazlur Rahman of the Islamic Action Council (MMA) and former PM Nawaz Sharif vowing to boycott elections held under the Emergency decree:

‘Pakistan: Nawaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rahman Reject Elections Under Emergency
Words within double slant lines are in English
Geo News TV
Monday, November 12, 2007 . . .
Document Type: OSC Translated Text

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has said (at a press conference) that general elections will be held at the same time before 9 January 2008, while the National Assembly will be dissolved on 15 th November and the provincial assemblies will be dissolved on 20 November. A caretaker government (at federal level) will be set up on the same date (15 th November).

We have contacted (on telephone line) Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Sharif (PML-N) Chief Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif to know his party’s reaction to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s press conference.

(Begin live relay) (Anchor Salman Hassan) Nawaz Sharif, President Musharraf says the emergency would pave the way for elections. What are your comments?

(Sharif) It will be absolutely contrary to the fact to state that emergency will pave the way for elections. Emergency is imposed to create hurdles (to elections), and this is not an //emergency// but a //martial law//. Can you imagine a //free and fair elections// under //martial law// or //even//under an emergency? Presently the //judiciary// has been ousted and the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts have been kept at their houses, rather they have been put under house arrest. And, the status of a very //pliant// election commissioner is such that he has become a personal servant (of Musharraf). So, if everybody has been detained under emergency, political leaders and party workers in thousands have been put in jails, and the //civil society//, the press and the media have been throttled, what kind of //free and fair elections// are going to be held. I think it will be a very big //fraud// to claim that elections will be //free and fair// in such conditions. Free and fair elections could not even be imagined.

(Hassan) Nawaz Sharif, what would happen then? Will your party //boycott// the elections?

(Shairf) You see, I believe that until the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) is not rescinded and all judges are not reinstated at 3 November position (before the enactment of state of emergency), these elections will be a //fraud// and it will be a big tyranny on Pakistan to hold elections in the present conditions. From what I have heard and saw about Musharraf’s press conference today, it is an absolutely well thought-out plan to achieve success for Musharraf’s //king party// (ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Qaide Azam). A very big plan for rigging (the elections) is being imposed. You see, how much time is left (for elections) and I am still outside Pakistan. Musharraf was repeatedly claiming today that he would provide a//level playing field//. Can it be termed a //level playing field// when Musharraf’s //king party) members roam freely and all Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Sharif workers and the //civil society// representatives are put in jail? If you are actually providing a //level playing field//, why Geo News, ARY, Aaj, and Dawn News and other private channels have been closed down? So, what all these steps are indicating? That is why our demand is very clear that the PCO is immediately rescinded from the country and the elections are held only after the reinstatement of judges. I think that the time has come when all political parties of Pakistan, who genuinely want democracy in Pakistan, come together on this point and foil Musharraf’s conspiracy against democracy.

(Hassan) Nawaz Sharif, you have presented a four-point proposal to Ms. Benazir Bhutto. Have you received any reply from her?

(Sharif) No, I have not received any reply.

(Hassan) So, what will be the strategy? If emergency continues until elections as has been stated, what would be the strategy of All Parties Democracy movement (APDM) and will (Benazir Bhutto’s) Pakistan People’s Party join it?

(Sharif) I think the APDM strategy, God willing, will soon emerge because I was talking to APDM (component parties) leaders in a different manner until yesterday as I was talking about launching a joint //struggle// by including the Pakistan People’s Party. But after today’s //development// of Musharraf’s press conference, the talks with APDM leaders will now be held in different circumstances created after Musharraf’s press conference today. So, I think (Musharraf’s press conference) has further deteriorated the situation that existed before 3 November. I thought that the crisis would, perhaps, be contained and the situation would improve and the present //emergency plus martial law// would be ended, the judges would be at least reinstated and all mistakes would be rectified before the elections. But the situation has worsened further after Musharraf’s press conference today. You see, the entire press conference reflected Musharraf’s anger and resentment against the//judiciary//. I think his personal thinking is now full of //vengeance//against the judges and the //judiciary//. Musharraf was complaining that nothing was done (by judiciary) on the //reference// he filed against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in March to oust him, but something could have been done on the //reference// only if he did not remove the Chief Justice from his post after filing the reference and then only a judgment could have bean passed on his //reference//. But the Chief Justice was removed//unconstitutionally and illegally// along with filing of the reference. The Chief Justice was called at the Army House…(incomplete sentence as heard)

(Hassan, interrupting) Thank you very much Nawaz Sharif for talking to us. (end live relay) (Anchor may have interrupted Nawaz Sharif’s interview to comply with the newly introduced amendment to the Army Act under which criticism and actions of the Army personnel in public are banned)

Jamaat-e Islami Chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed has described Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s press conference as an open contempt of the Constitution and the Judiciary. In a statement issued in Lahore, Qazi Hussain Ahmed said that the elections will be a fraud without the reinstatement of judges and end to state of emergency. He said that Musharraf’s announcement of elections under the emergency law tantamount to ridiculing the nation and an attempt to fool the international community. Qazi Hussain Ahmed said that the time has come to adopt a joint strategy in consultation with the APDM and other parties.

We have contacted (on telephone line) Maulana Fazlur Rahman, leader of (six-party religious alliance) Muttahida Majlis-e Amal (MMA) in connection with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s press conference.

(Begin live relay) (Anchor Salman Hassan) Maulana, President Musharraf says that the emergency would help in maintenance of law and order and holding of transparent elections. What you have to say on his claim?

(Rahman) You see, the press conference has raised many questions. Firstly, his manner of speaking means that he does not want to doff uniform until elections, while he had earlier stated that he would doff uniform before the elections or before taking oath of office (of president). Secondly, Musharraf mentioned the militant insurgency in the Northwest Frontier Province, Swat and tribal areas and the international media representatives were present at his press conference and the manner in which Musharraf answered their questions meant that he was giving an impression to the West that the emergency was necessary for him to send troops there under his //command// and under his (emergency) //powers// to fight terrorism. So, a question will definitely be posed that if the Army is directly involved in a war with its own people, how an atmosphere for elections could be created. He is, in fact, creating an internal chaos, but claiming that he is creating conditions conducive for elections. If Musharraf has not been able to achieve his objectives against terrorism in last 7 years, how would it possible for him to improve the situation by using the Army in just 7 weeks (before the elections). American and NATO troops are talking about ending terrorism in Afghanistan and Musharraf wants to use Army inside Pakistan. If international forces are not able to end the Taliban’s resistance in Afghanistan, how would it be possible for Musharraf to achieve want he wants within 7 weeks.

(Hassan) Maulana, Please tell us one thing. No serious reaction against emergency was witnessed on behalf of the MMA, especially on behalf of Jamiyat-e- Ulema-e Islam (JUI), and no big protest demonstrations were staged. What is the reason for this?

(Rahman) The JUI is a part of MMA and the MMA at its meeting has announced country-wide demonstrations from 16 th November. God willing, the MMA workers will be on streets throughout the country on the 16 th November and formal demonstrations will be staged in every district headquarter. We had also suggested that a national consultative meeting is called so that all political parties and organization and representatives of the //civil society// jointly prepare a strategy. We had contacted Mian Nawaz Sharif, but he now talks about first settling things with the PPP. So, this has somewhat disappointed us in the sense that he does not want to immediately attend (the proposed national consultative) meeting in which the PPP is not present. That is why he has written a letter to Bhutto and he has sent its copy to me in which he has put some conditions to Bhutto Now until the matters are not settled between the PML-N and the PPP, how would it possible to hold fruitful national consultations. JUI is a part of the MMA and the JUI had some reservation and complaints with APDM and if the JUI could rise above its reservations and think it is necessary to sit together for serving the national cause, why these people (PML-N and PPP) cannot make the same sacrifice by rising above their thinking. So, obviously if such important leaders and parties fail to understand the gravity of situation and are prolonging the issues, JUI will also have the right to maintain its reservations with the APDM.

(Hassan) Thank you very much Maulana Fazlur Rahman. (end live relay)

(Description of Source: Karachi Geo News TV in Urdu — 24-hour satellite news TV channel owned by Pakistan’s Jang publishing group, broadcast from Dubayy. Known for providing quick and detailed reports of events. Programs include some Indian shows and dramas which the group claims are aimed at promoting people-to-people contact and friendly relations with India.) ‘