News of “staged” voting in front of foreign election observers
News of abductions (atleast 4 PML-N workers’ abduction confirmed)
TV Channel’s barred from conducting their own exit polls to verify the accuracy of the compiled results and not allowed to broadcast results without being “issued” by the agents of the election commission.
Many people complaining that they are not on the voter list including 2 close friends who have searched every polling station in their constituency.
Feuds in many polling stations.
Polling suspended in some regions (one was requested by Fatima Bhutto)
Members of the Student Action Committee had planned to hold mock elections in front of the Lahore High Court, reaching there early morning the police prevented them to setup camp but they instead continued the mock elections at another location. The turnout was massive with over 812 voters.
Votes Against Musharraf = 782
Votes For Musharraf = 24
Human Rights Watch issues a statement on the restriction on the media, similarly Hamid Mir also shared his concerns just a day earlier in a letter to journalists of PFUJ.
Threats and censorship against the independent media, bias in state television, and a widespread ban on live broadcasting are limiting the public’s right to information as Pakistan goes to the polls, Human Rights Watch said today. Recent curbs on the media prohibit coverage of election rallies, live call-ins, live talk shows, live coverage of protests, or any live broadcasts that could show the government in a negative light, severely restricting the right to free expression ahead of Pakistan’s election on February 18, 2008.
On November 3, 2007, President Pervez Musharraf suspended Pakistan’s constitution and declared emergency rule, curbing the media through two decrees that bar the publishing or broadcasting of “anything which defames or brings into ridicule the head of state, or members of the armed forces, or executive, legislative or judicial organ of the state.” The print and electronic media were also restrained from publishing any material likely to “jeopardize or be prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or any material that is likely to incite violence or hatred or create inter-faith disorder or be prejudicial to maintenance of law and order.” Television discussions of anything deemed “false or baseless” by the regulatory authorities were also banned. All those provisions remain in force, even though the state of emergency was lifted on December 15. Continue Reading
‘Since you were so kind as to greet us in London at Downing Street last month, the President would like to return the favour,” announces Major-General Rashid Qureshi, President Pervez Musharraf’s PR man over the phone. Only in Pakistan could the government’s head of spin be a retired major-general. He is referring to my last encounter with the President on 28 January when, along with a 2,000-strong, placard-waving, slogan-jeering mob, I protested on the main road outside 10 Downing Street while Musharraf discussed democracy with Gordon Brown over lunch inside. On the way in he waved at us. Clearly he’s a man who is not afraid of confrontation. Much to the justifiable fury of every journalist in Islamabad, he has now granted me an exclusive half-hour interview despite or perhaps because of the fact that I have recently described him as one of the most repressive dictators Pakistan has ever known.
On the way to the Camp Office in Rawalpindi, I cross the bridge and pass the petrol station, which mark the spots of two recent attempts on the life of the now deeply unpopular President. I have a horrible fear that, bamboozled under the spotlight of his renowned charm, I may start to simper. My ex-husband, one of the President’s most vocal critics, has already told me he thinks this is all a terrible idea. “It will be misinterpreted in Pakistan. Besides, you’ll be too soft on him,” he said.
The Camp Office turns out to be an old colonial building which used to be the HQ of the northern command under the British. With its delicately carved, wooden, double-height ceilings, sweeping central staircase, marble floors and ornate carpets, it’s not hard to see why the President chose this as his private office in Rawalpindi. His residence is just up the driveway. Continue Reading
President Pervez Musharraf responds to a question posed by Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Roth asked Musharraf whether, in the interest of free debate before the February 18, 2008 parliamentary elections, he would release the judges and lawyers who were being held under house arrest but had not been charged with any crime.
His response, seems like hes clueless of what Human Rights actually is
Mr. Hamid Mir, a very prominent anchor of Geo TV who was banned from appearing on any TV show after the emergency shares his feelings in this letter submitted after the press conference he had on the invitation of Pakistan Federal Union Journalists . Its a must read specially if you want to understand whats going on behind the covers of the new form of Media Censorship
Dear Journalist Colleagues,
Thanks for coming to this press conference on the invitation of Pakistan Federal Union Journalists.
As you know that Musharraf regime have banned many TV anchors including me without any written charge against us. The main objective of banning us was to pressurize Pakistani media to accept a new code of conduct for print and electronic journalism. This new code was drafted just to manipulate elections. Musharraf regime started pressurizing us to accept new media laws in 2006.I was served with a notice from the government in October 2006 when I hosted a talk show on the role of intelligence agencies in politics. I responded that notice through my lawyer and took a stand that I never violated any law. Government never issued any notice to me after my response. Continue Reading
In an audio recording obtained by Human Rights Watch, Pakistans Attorney General [Mr. upsnoot] Malik Qayyum stated that upcoming parliamentary elections will be “massively rigged,
Human Rights Watch said that the recording was made during a phone interview with a member of the media on November 21, 2007. Qayyum, while still on the phone interview, took a call on another telephone and his side of that conversation was recorded. The recording was made the day after Pakistans Election Commission announced the schedule for polls. The election was originally planned for January 8 but was postponed after the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto
“Leave Nawaz Sharif (PAUSE)…. I think Nawaz Sharif will not take part in the election (PAUSE)…. If he does take part, he will be in trouble. If Benazir takes part she too will be in trouble (PAUSE)…. They will massively rig to get their own people to win. If you can get a ticket from these guys, take it (PAUSE)…. If Nawaz Sharif does not return himself, then Nawaz Sharif has some advantage. If he comes himself, even if after the elections rather than before (PAUSE). Yes. Continue Reading
Reza Rumi in Pak Tea house has printed an Open letter to Fatima Bhutto by fellow writer Nighat Said Khan from the Friday Times. It is for Fatima Bhutto to decide how to respond to Ms. Nighat Khan.
I take exception to the following quote from the open letter:
In the 60 years of Pakistan a Bhutto has only been in power for about 10 and yet this name looms large both for supporters and detractors. Why does the focus always stay on the Bhuttos (as opposed to all other politicians and even military governments?) Why are Benazir’s all too brief terms in office still under the microscope; why are all her wrongs always in the public discourse (urban discourse in the main); why does she elicit such fury? Why does the murder of Murtaza figure more than the suspicion of murder of Shahnawaz? Why is there no “objective” thinking through of Benazir’s involvement (or lack thereof) in the murder of her brother Murtaza?
The latest IRI survey released on 11th of February indicates once again that Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) will clean sweep the February 18th elections. These elections are thought to be one of the most critical in Pakistani history not just because they will decide the fate of Pakistan for the next five-years and its repercussions but also the fate of War on terror and neighboring Muslim nations. Continue Reading
This could be one of the most uncertain elections in Pakistan where there are hundred of doubts whether they will be held as scheduled, and if yes, will it be fair and the atmosphere is not conducive either. If people come out of fear, and went to vote on the poll day then rest assured despite all the odds the next Parliament will be a mix of pro and anti Musharraf forces who will be deciding very crucial issues and one of them would be reinstating the deposed judiciary and future of Pakistan. If these elections are rigged, it will open a Pandora s Box which may sweep a lot of things with it as Pakistani elections have many stories within.
In the gloomy atmosphere which is saddened by the death of Be Nazir Bhutto, election process could not really attract lay men, women and children who are scared as well as the government machinery under instructions to do or not to do their job casting spells on its fairness. Being a human being I sometime feel the pain of incarceration of family members of Chief Justice & others who are blamelessly detained and are not able to run their lives as other normal human beings like going to school, shopping meeting families etc. It reminds me of the colonial past where family members were arrested in order to make an arrest in order to try the main accused and even today our black masters could not exit from that mind set even in 21st century. Mr. Justice Iftikhar Choudhary could be the main man desired to be detained by the General, however his familys house arrest is unimaginable, and the shameless quietness over it is unforgiveable. Continue Reading
Guest post by Umer Chaudhry
Cross Posted from Red Diary
February 9th, 2008, was an important day for the lawyers movement and for the people of Pakistan. It was that day when the lawyers showed their resilience in the face of State repression on the streets of Islamabad. It was that day when the lawyers showed to the rest of the world that their movement will not fade away. It will stand to accomplish its objectives. It will stand for the rights of the people, for restoration of judiciary, for free and fair elections. The Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP) finds it to their honor to stand by the lawyers in their struggle for democracy and justice.
It started with the usual chill of the winter morning when a car rally organized by the Concerned Citizens of Pakistan left from the gates of Aitzaz Ahsans residence in Lahore. The organizers were kind enough to give space to some student-members of the CMKP for free. The long journey was made easy by discussions that ranged from anti-war movement in USA to political theories and the upcoming elections in Pakistan. We made short stays at the Bar Associations on our way as more lawyers and cars joined in. Ahmed Mukhtar, who is contesting elections from Pakistan Peoples Party against Pakistan Muslim League-Qs stalwart Shujat Hussain, hosted our lunch and briefed us about his preparations to tackle rigging of elections in his constituency. As we were getting late, we had to avoid more stops and rushed towards Islamabad.
Still we were not on time to attend the Pakistan Bar Councils meeting at Islamabad. We drove to the Aitzaz Ahsans house where a group of lawyers was waiting for us, ready to march on to the residence of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. As the demonstration started, members of CMKP from Rawalpindi/Islamabad arrived armed with large red flags marked with the hammer and sickle and a megaphone. Without wasting any moment, we ran towards the rally waving our flags, caught our breath, and started raising our slogans against the military rule. Continue Reading
The blurb informs us that Mariam Mufti is currently working on her doctoral dissertation on the party system of Pakistan at Johns Hopkins University. In the News today she offers these views and definitions:
To resolve the debate on whether or not strong political parties are essential for democracy, we need to understand what political parties are their objectives, their organisation, and what they do.
Let’s define democracy in the Dahlian tradition as an apolitical system in which important government posts are decided through fair, competitive elections held on a regular schedule, freedoms of association and speech are protected and franchise is extended to all adult citizens. In such a political system, political parties may function as fundamental conduits of political life as major agents of representation and institutions that order legislative life. Continue Reading
Article written by members of the People’s Resistance
Originally written on Dec 26 2007, The PCO Chief Justice of Lahore High Court, Iftikhar Hussain Chaudhry, has since retired
A Bit of History
Pakistans history is chequered with instances of military taking over the state. When Ayub took over, he introduced a constitution (1962) that gave sweeping powers to the President and the military. On his downfall, General Yahya, the new military ruler issued Pakistans first Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) suspending the citizens human rights, civil liberties and right to approach a court of law.
After the promulgation of the 1973 Constitution – considered pristine and drafted by popular, unanimous choice – the military twice displaced civil power and took extra-constitutional judicial action through a PCO that required judges to take fresh oath: in 1981 (under General Zia) and 2000 (under General Musharraf).
After Musharraf seized power (Oct 1999) the courts were first purged of independent judges when several, including Justice Wajihuddin, refused to take oath under the 2000-PCO. An Army Colonel held Justice Saiduzzaman Siddiqui, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, hostage for several hours while the oath-taking ceremony took place elsewhere. The fear was that he would have refused to take oath and might have influenced other judges into doing the same. Continue Reading