Pakistani Americans Decry Pre-Poll Rigging

Chicago, Illinois: The Pakistan American Democratic Forum (PADF), a grassroots organization founded in 1982 in support of Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD), has expressed profound concern about systematic pre-poll rigging in Pakistan.
“After showing contemptuous disregard for the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Musharraf regime is now openly engaged in pre-poll rigging which will only further divide and weaken the country,” said PADF President Dr. Mohammad Ashraf, who has recently returned from Pakistan.
“Election Commission’s recent guidelines arbitrarily suspending application of Article 63(K) to Gen Musharraf’s candidature constitute a living proof of this rigging,” political scientist Dr. Agha Saeed said.
Article 63(K) of the Constitution of Pakistan stipulates that a person shall be disqualified from being elected as president “if he has been in the service of Pakistan or of any statutory body or any body which is owned or controlled by the government in which the government has a controlling share or interest, unless a period of two years has elapsed since he ceased to be in such service.”
The PADF has also criticized the Bush Administration for its “complicity” in trying to prop up a failed dictatorship.
The PADF statement reads:
Pre-poll rigging refers to all those procedural, administrative and normative practices as well as tactical deployment of government’s resources that favor some and disfavor other parties and candidates.
It creates an uneven playing field, excludes stronger candidates from competition, limits the chances of success for opposition candidates through tactics such as gerrymandering, and uses the enormous regulatory powers of the state to penalize those who support opposition candidates. In essence, pre-poll rigging is akin to using a loaded dice.
Gen. Musharraf's ever-increasing desperation is now observable in pre-poll rigging through arbitrary changes in the applicability of Articles 43 and 63 (K), excluding rival candidates by deporting them, arresting them and humiliating them. His Chief Election Commissioner has not only waived Article 63(K) but also given only 16 days for any opposition candidate to get ready to run against Gen Musharraf.
Daniel Markey’s essay “A False Choice in Pakistan” in Foreign Affairs exposes the utter hypocrisy of the Bush Administration. Giving full vent to the Bush Administration’s preference for the dictator, Markey writes: "Trying to force a rapid democratic transition in Pakistan would prove similarly counterproductive."
However, if the mood of the Pakistani people is any indication then the final outcome may by significantly different than what is stipulated in the imperial dictation. Those political parties who having received a wink and a nod from the US State Department are now busy propping up a failed dictatorship may not escape the final fate of the Musharraf regime.
The whole country, nay, the whole world is now looking at the Supreme Court for redress. But the apex court alone cannot defeat all internal and external intrigues, manipulations, and deceptions. Every pro-democracy Pakistani, including every pro-democracy Pakistani-American, must stand with the Supreme Court in this decisive moment.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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