PADF Demands Election
Rules Must be Decided by Supreme Court of Pakistan
By Muhammad Salim Akhtar
Recently, members of the Pakistan American
Democratic Front (PADF) convened a teleconference to discuss
the political situation in Pakistan. The key points of the
conference call are summarized below:
1. Pakistan has experienced an irreversible qualitative
change and the locus of power has shifted from the Army
House to the Supreme Court.
2. Pakistan has now developed a 60-80 million strong middle
class that is rooted both in urban and rural areas of the
country and the literacy rates had topped 50%. Thus the
changes were being propelled by this urban and rural middle
classes who have pushed back the military as well as the
feudals. The general dependency on feudal lords has been
3. The educated middle and lower middle classes have emerged
as the principle constituency of a free press, and its main
4. Globalization and the Internet have further empowered
these educated segments by making them aware of their rights
and their choices and by providing comparable examples of
5. The freedom of the press was a key factor in winning
the freedom of the judiciary and now these two must work
together to achieve the freedom of parliament which will
make Pakistan a truly free nation.
6. The free press and the free judiciary must also coalesce
to help establish an independent and neutral Election Commission.
7. The pro-democracy forces must help strengthen all major
institutions of Pakistan, each with the mandate and the
means to play its own constitutional role. Now is the time
for the opinion leaders to inculcate confidence in the institutions
and usher the process of dismantling personality cults.
8. The military rule should not be replaced by dynastic
rule. Both these curses must be must be removed from the
body-politic of Pakistan once and for all.
In view of the above, the PADF calls for:
1. The electoral framework (standards, rules, procedures,
oversights, etc) should be given by the Supreme Court of
Pakistan and not by Gen Musharraf (who himself is a candidate).
2. Only candidates in full compliance with the Constitution
and other relevant laws should be eligible to contest elections.
3. The media and independent observers must be given complete
access to polling stations particularly when the votes are
4. The Election Commission must resolve the issue of expatriate
voting rights. (It was decided that PADF President Dr. Mohammad
Ashraf Toor would seek clarification from the Chief Election
Commissioner of Pakistan regarding procedures and voting
rights of Pakistani living overseas as well as those who
have acquired citizenship in another country.)