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Posts tagged with: Election

Pakistan’s Political Future: An Alternative Perspective – Imran Khan at the Asia Society

Imran KhanAn event is being held by the Asia Society where Imran Khan will shed light on the present political siltation in Pakistan, as usual a live webcast will be available for those who may want to participate and once the session is completed I will post the MP3 file here on the blog for others to listen. Other previous Asia Society discussion are available here, here, here & here The invitation issued by Asia Society for this town hall meeting is as follows

Please join us for a unique opportunity to interact with Mr. Imran Khan, a former cricket legend from Pakistan and now a vociferous political opponent of President Musharraf. Mr. Khan is Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party (Movement for Justice). He will share his insights about the rapidly evolving political scene in Pakistan and offer practical solutions to break the ongoing political impasse to facilitate the transition to democratic governance. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party is boycotting the upcoming legislative election scheduled for February 18 and Mr. Khan has called for the resignation of President Musharraf. The discussion will be moderated by Kiran Khalid, Freelance Broadcast Journalist and documentary filmmaker of “We Are Not Free” about media censorship in Pakistan.
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US Senators meet Imran Khan to discuss the future of Democracy in Pakistan

Yesterday a very high profile meeting was held in Washignton DC with Imran Khan who met a high powered Senate group under the leadership of Senator Harry Reid the Senate Majority Leader, other leaders included Senator Dick Durbin who is Assistant Senate Majority Leader, Chairman Senate Foreign Relation Committee Senator Joe Biden, Chairman South Asia Committee Senator John Kerry, Senator Patty Murray Member Senate Appropriations Committee and Secretary of Senate Democratic Party Caucus, Senator Casey who is Member Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senator Tom Harkin Member Senate Appropriations Committee. The meeting lasted one and a half hour. A press release issued by the offices of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is quoted below.

Washington, DC Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid met today with Imran Khan, a leading Pakistani opposition leader, to discuss the upcoming Pakistani elections and the future of democracy in Pakistan.

Khan, a member of the Pakistani parliament, leads the Justice Movement party and expressed deep concern about the Pakistani judiciary. Khan made it clear that Pakistan cannot have true democracy, or free and fair elections, without reinstating the head of the Supreme Court and the rest of the judges President Musharraf dismissed. He also believes that the February 18th parliamentary elections may be rigged, which would further undermine Pakistani democracy.
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Open Letter to President of Pakistan General (Retd) Pervaiz Musharraf

An open letter to President General (Retd) Pervaiz Musharraf from Masood Sharif Khan Khattak

Dear Mr President,

The destructive events of 2007 cannot be wished away. The naked assault of your government on the judiciary, led by yourself from the front, on 09 March, 2007, triggered off a chain of events that need not be recounted. In short, Pakistan has been devastated all through 2007.

Pakistan lost an internationally recognised political and intellectual personality, namely, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto on 27 December, 2007, to a murderous gun and bomb attack. Pakistan was reduced to paralysis in the aftermath of the tragic manner in which Pakistans most courageous political leader lost her life. The story does not end here. The adverse effects of this tragedy will continue to unfold in the days, months and years to come. I pray that ALLAH THE ALMIGHTY Blesses the soul of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto eternal peace of heavens. Amen.

The deplorable law and order situation in the country, in general, and the mishandling of the situation in our erstwhile peaceful tribal areas and other parts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) only add to the widespread belief in the country that you and your government has now become a huge part of the problem and is certainly not equal to the task of finding a solution to the gigantic problems faced by Pakistan. These problems have gained unimaginable dimensions through the years of your rule. While the Army and the paramilitary is deployed to fight in many parts of NWFP the police and the rangers etc are busy beating up the civil society in the city streets. Pakistan and Pakistanis are no longer at peace with each other.
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Canadian, Dutch and Hong Kong lawyers conclude that Emergency Measures are illegitimate

Canadian, Dutch and Hong Kong lawyers conclude that Emergency Measures are illegitimate and call on Pakistan to restore the law and redress violations

Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) and the Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation (L4L) call for:

  1. The immediate unconditional release of all jurists arrested under preventative detention measures, including: Aitzaz Ahsan, President of the Supreme Court Bar; Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhry, removed from office by the Musharraf regime; Ali Ahmed Kurd; Justice (retired) Tariq Mahmood and others.
  2. Strict adherence by the State and state officials to all Pakistan laws in force prior to November 3, 2007 and to applicable international standards protecting the independence of lawyers and judges including those embodied in the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyersand the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary.
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RSF: Government lifts cable ban on Geo TV but makes it remove some programmes

Reporters Without Borders issues a press statement

Reporters Without Borders hails the lifting of a government ban on cable TV distribution of the privately-owned TV channel Geo News but deplores the fact that President Pervez Musharraf made it conditional on the suppression of some its programmes.

“Geo News has made major contribution to improving Pakistanis’ access to independent news since 2002 and should never have been banned,” the press freedom organisation said. “The ban, which lasted more than 10 weeks, was aimed at silencing outspoken reporters and commentators and investigative reports that were often damning for the authorities.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “It is regrettable that the government insisted on the withdrawal of certain programmes. This constitutes yet further evidence that censorship is unfortunately still the rule just a few weeks before the parliamentary elections scheduled for 18 February.”
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An Imaginary Lecture by Zia Mohyeddin

by Zia Mohyeddin

Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to make an urgent plea for a National Theatre.

I am aware that I would be scoffed at and jeered for making a such a frivolous suggestion at a time when we are going through, in the words of one newspaper, ‘agonizing times,’ but I do so, unabashedly, for I believe that the theatre can go a long way towards creating a degree of sanity.

Look at it this way: if I were to make a fervent appeal for establishing a genuine National Library, worthy of our ambitions, would anyone demur? No one dares deny the importance of a library. I do not wish to digress by dwelling upon the appalling state of our libraries. Suffice it to say that a library is a veritable source of knowledge and enlightenment. So, indeed, is the theatre.

In the sixty years of our existence, the torch of theatre has been kept burning in spite of censures and strictures. Even in the grimmest period when our puritanical general ruled us, various groups — amateurs or semi-professional — kept performing plays, albeit clandestinely. We now take pride in our National Folk Art museum and our newly established National Gallery. Isn’t it time, then, that the very best of our dramatic efforts be seen in the National Theatre?
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RSF Questions Cyber Crime Law in Pakistan

Reporters Sans FrontiersReporters Without Borders has written a strong letter to the Minister of Information and Technology questioning the Government of Pakistan on the Cyber Crime Ordinance which was promulgated into effect barely a two weeks ago. Reporters Without Borders fears that a new law on cyber crime, revealed on 7 January by the authorities, will pose serious obstacles to “citizen journalism and calls on the government to clarify the definition of some of its provisions.

“This law prevents any blogger from posting photos or video showing persons who have not given their consent, the press freedom organisation said. “Pakistan has understood its right to give itself a law for fighting cyber-crime, but it is vital that this law should not obstruct freedom of information.

Reporters Without Borders added: “We urge the government to clarify the content of some of the provisions that we think are dangerous. With just one month to go to legislative elections, some of the articles of this law look like censorship.

The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act has been in force since 31 December and will be submitted to the new parliament in April, after it has been elected. Reporters Without Borders has written to minister of information technology and telecommunications Awais Laghari asking him to “provide guarantees as regards respect for freedom of information.

The law provides for the death penalty for anyone causing the death of another person by means of email messages. A Federal Investigation Agency representative in Islamabad tried to justify the law by referring to Daniel Pearls murder and describing the exchange of emails between the kidnappers as a “cyber-crime.
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Justice Bhagwandas placed under House Arrest

It is being reported that the deposed non-PCO judge Justice Baghwandas has been placed under house arrest. Justice Bhagwandas was one of the judges who was forcibly thrown into retirement since he along with over 60 Supreme Court and High Court judges who refused to sign an illegal consitutionsl order as prescribed by General Pervaiz Musharraf on Nov 3rd. Justice Rana Bhagwandas was placed under a house arrest, shortly after he told lawyers that deposed judges will be restored in “a few weeks”.

It must be recalled that CJP Justice Iftikhar and Mr Aitzaz Ahsan have been under house arrest for over two months and counting.

We the Citizens of Pakistan whemently object to this move by General Musharraf to silence the voice of its citizens and we join the judges in protest. Here’s to hoping that democracy returns to Pakistan without a self appointed dictator as President and to the hope that the feedom of speech is respected by one and all especially by the powerful who have been making tall claims at the international levels to soon hold free and fair elections, when its ironic that they have s short temper unable to stomach opposing views

Letter by US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to President Bush on Pakistan

The following letter was just received. The Senate Majority leader Sen. Harry Reid has written to Bush and has insisted that the Judiciary should be restored, as well as political prisoners freed and the media restrictions removed. More action from the Senate and Congress in this regard will be seen in the near future.

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing out of continued deep concern about the current situation in Pakistan and your Administration’s policy toward this critical country. In early November 2007, shortly after President Musharraf declared a state of emergency and postponed previously scheduled elections, I wrote to you urging a full review of your policy toward Pakistan as well as your overall policy to counter terrorist groups such as al Qaeda. I believed then, and still believe, that your Administration’s strategy in Pakistan and the fight against terrorist groups has failed to produce the results we seek. Your administration has chosen to provide President Musharraf billions from U.S. taxpayers even as he undermined the institutions of democracy in Pakistan and fell short in his actions against al Qaeda and other terrorist groups operating in his country. This strategy has failed to produce a more democratic Pakistan and, just as importantly, has not reduced the threat that terrorists operating in Pakistan pose to the United States and our interests abroad. The recent tragic assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, only days before scheduled elections, has raised further questions about Pakistan’s democracy. Continue Reading

Postal workers in Lahore buying Votes for Rs 1,500 ($25) only ?

Vote BribeExposing election rigging is a tough job. as the onus of proof generally lies on the accuser, hence usually very tough to prove, at times opposing parties may even try to set each other up simply to humiliate them and pull a few extra votes in the process, everything seems to be fair in our elections. I on the other hand believe if we hear of any such report, it must be shared with everyone opening the argument to a larger audience, allow the case at hand be scrutinized in the hope that it can be verified or refuted when exposed to a larger reader base, little good will it do lying in my email box, since I cannot physically head out to confirm.

Since yesterday a number of reports have slowly trickled in saying that postal workers specifically in the Gulberg, Lahore going from door to door asking people for their National ID cards in exchange for Rs.1,500 ($25). This story might not be too far fetched, as every person is feeling the economic pressure and any spare change offered by filthy rich candidates does help the poor survive in this crushing economy. I quote an email verbatim, which I has already been forwarded to a number or monitoring agencies in the hope of getting some form of verifications,
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Sindh is angry and Punjab is not helping – Shaheen Shehbai

Call me paranoid, call me crazy, but the way things have been unfolding for the past few months indicate that the top leadership aka General Pervaiz Musharraf and his party of thugs will do anything and everything to hold onto that seat of power. In the recent past there seems to be a deliberate attempt to exploit the differences between Punjab and Sindh to which even Altaf Hussain has fully responded in no small terms with his letter being published across the countries newspapers. A word of advise for everyone, let us not get sucked into an ethnicity issue here as Musharraf and PML-Q see this as a prime opportunity to divert peoples attention and retain their seat of power

I share with you the article by Shaheen Shehbai, just to get an idea of his own experience following the post Dec 27 situation, it can then be linked to the 200,000 arrests that have taken place throughout out Sindh. It must be remembered that Shaheen Shahbai has been a staunch PPP supporter and had to flee Pakistan for ‘the better world’ a few years back, he then ran a very hard hitting Anti-Musharraf website called SA Tribune [Offline] (archives still available here) which he claims to have shut down due to ‘health and family circumstances’ and also desired to ‘exit while he was on top’, apparently he did not cite any bureaucratic pressures, but one could only suspect that it might have been a contributing factor if not the prime reason to wrap up such a booming online venture, as the grind did leave its rough marks on the Government of Pakistan which had to resort to blocking the website in Pakistan back in 2004, in the days when I had barely started blogging.

By Shaheen Sehbai
The News, January 6, 2008

Deeply aggrieved, full of anger and passionately in mourning, Sindhis are baffled and confused at the strange reaction in Punjab, specially the ruling elite which has adopted an aggressively parochial attitude, not just against the PPP but against entire Sindh, after the death of Benazir Bhutto.

The accusations that large numbers of Punjabis have been forced to flee Sindh and become refugees in their province may help the PML-Q leaders rebuild their shattered election campaign but it is certainly not helping national unity and the cause of the federation of Pakistan.
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SAC Protest Call in Lahore at Minar-e-Pakistan at 2pm today

The Student Action Committee (Lahore) has called for a protest on the 8th of January 2008 at 2 pm at Minar-e-Pakistan. In full collaboration with civil society groups, lawyers and activists; this protest is to be registered against the removal of the Pre Nov 3rd judiciary that stood for a just rule of law and against the inefficiency displayed by the establishment which lead to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in the year 2007 and thousands of others.

The students demand that the pre Nov 3rd judiciary be restored without which elections cannot be accepted.

Aitzaz Ahsans baseless detention keeps getting prolonged while the stringent treatment meted out to him suggests that our current regime shuns standing for principles and only favors partisan attitudes.

While Pakistan is on the bring of being considered a failed state, the SAC (Lahore) urges the nation to join forces on the 8th and stand loud and strong at Minar e Pakistan at 2 pm.

About 200,000 people Arrested in Sindh

There are reports which are coming in for the past few days that a major crackdown is underway in Sindh specially targeting the workers of Pakistan People Party to an extent that there are official reports of around 0.2 million people that have been arrested for their involvement and activities in the rioting following the 27th Dec assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The estimates as reported in Dawn today narrate the official figure to hover somewhere around 200,000.

  • 227 FIRs have been registered for 91,571 people in Thatta
  • 167 FIRs have been registered for 81,840 people in Hyderabad
  • 264 FIRs have been registered for 1,232 people in Khairpur
  • 500 FIRs have been registered for 474 people in Nawabshah

Its is surprising that even a week after the incident the police has been able to identify the culprits of the crime, the ‘official’ reason for these mass arrests happens to be their involvement in riots and looting that took place throughout the country in the days after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. A number of Human Rights Activists working in these areas say that these mass arrests have nothing to do with those riots but instead are geared towards rounding up all opposition in an attempt to defuse their activities in the upcoming elections.

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HRCP Statement “Civil society for change at the top, fairplay and citizens rights”

Just received this press statement from Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on discussion about the present political situation in Pakistan and condemned the wide spread arrests being made of all opposition leaders

HRCP Pakistan: Activists of civil society organizations and concerned citizens, including representatives of the four provinces, met at HRCP office in Lahore to discuss the over-all situation and the upcoming elections and summed up their concerns and demands in the following statement:

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has made the situation in Pakistan much worse. Elections have been postponed despite the demand by the main parties, including the most severely affected PPP, to stick to the scheduled date of January 8 2008. The new date for elections has been set for February 18, but there are apprehensions of further postponement and lawlessness. General Musharrafs decision to use the army during and after the elections is ominous as it aims to stifle dissent and public opinion through the use of force. The participants demanded that there must be no further delay in elections as this will only exacerbate the crisis of state and society.
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If a Bhutto must run Pakistan, why not Fatima? – Jemima Khan

This article appeared in the Telegraph today where Jemima Khan discusses Fatima Bhutto as the most logical heir to the Bhutto dynasty, I might also agree that the 25 year old has the brains and maybe the brawns to take over the reigns of such a big party, but will she? is still an open question. The most important issue to analyze that if she does stick her neck out for the top slot in the PPP will the Bhutto supporters rally behind her considering her ongoing difference with Benazir. I guess not… so honest advice would be for her to stay low and pick the fight at a later stage when the fruits are better for the picking, if she were to emerge now it could be political suicide as the strong Benazir sympathetic vote bank could rub her the wrong way.

In other news, discussions in many circles around town, I am also told that if one were to search for a male leader within the Bhutto empire then a good option would be to keep an eye on Murtaza Bhutto’s son Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (Jr), many who have met this young chap say that he is very ‘street smart’ and could be a logical choice, though he is only 18 years old, but far more mature then the adopted-name-sake-Bhutto Bilawal Zardari.

Within the span of a few days since the assassination of Benazir, a strong rumor remains that a rift is already brewing up within the top ranks of the PPP since Zardari is not a natural leader and the more he interacts with the top brass the more differences continue to arise and the rift widens. It must be recalled that previously Asif Ali Zardari commanded respect and power under the umbrella protection of Benazir Bhutto quite simply because he was ‘the husband of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto‘ now with her gone it is a different story all together. I would not like to preempt the breakup but its important to keep an eye on whats brewing on under the covers

By Jemima Khan
Published in the Telegraph UK

Death duties are being reformed in this country and the upper limit extended. They don’t come more onerous than those left to Bilawal Bhutto, Zardari. Many Oxford undergraduates consider a career in politics; few are handed a political party, a new name and the statistical probability that you’re not going to die of old age, in bed.
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