Pakistan: Musharraf's Farcical General Election
Pakistan's General Election scheduled by General Musharraf for February 18 cannot by any objective standards be described as a genuine democratic experiment. It is a fraudulent exercise scripted by an unconstitutional military dictator (despite shedding his uniform) with a permissive nod by his external patrons with both attempting to convince the world that real democracy has finally emerged in Pakistan.
General Musharraf's personal imprint on the whole process of Pakistan's February 18 General Election despite his trumpeted claims of 'Enlightened Moderation' has been conspicuously marked by 'Immoderate Extremism' in that ever since March 2007 General Musharraf has not desisted from extreme unconstitutional actions to perpetuate himself in power at any cost.
To pre-empt Pakistan's Supreme Court judiciary from legally ruling out his continuance in power as President, General Musharraf first suspended the Chief Justice of Pakistan in March 2007 and later in November 2007 when the challenge from the highest judiciary in Pakistan became more potent in stopping him in his tracks, General Musharraf sacked the entire Supreme Court judiciary including the Chief Justice and nearly sixty other senior judges all over Pakistan. It was a brazen exercise of dictatorial extremism at its worst.
Campaigning for Pakistan's General Elections has been marked by a conspicuous lack of political enthusiasm arising from a widespread feeling all across Pakistan that the elections would be rigged and would not be free and fair. There is a widespread perception that in keeping with General Musharraf's pattern of behavior since March 2007 he cannot but rig the General Elections to perpetuate himself in political power.
The new Supreme Court of Pakistan packed by General Musharraf's personal nominees expectedly ruled recently in legal challenges to the Constitutional validity of General Musharraf's contrived re-election as President and his ordering of the General Election as an un-Constitutional President that these could not be legally challenged. This ruling by a rigged Supreme Court was not backed by any Constitutional provisions but by a decree of General Musharraf.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has similarly not covered itself with any glory and is being not only cynically viewed by the people of Pakistan but also viewed as active accomplices of General Musharraf.
To complete the farcical picture of the February 18 General Elections in Pakistan being orchestrated by General Musharraf it needs to be highlighted that in the last few days the good General has threatened that if violence were to break out following the declaration of results of the General Elections then he would not hesitate in taking stringent actions to quell it.
This threat by Musharraf requires a little pondering over as to what necessitated or prompted him to make this assertion. Why should violence breakout after the results come out ? Logically violence would be a sequential follow-up to the General Elections if a widespread perception that emerges that the elections were rigged and manipulated.
Further, many would like to question that if there is so much cynicism about the elections likely to be rigged then why are the political parties in Pakistan taking part in these elections ? It is a difficult question to answer. The only explanation that comes to mind is that in the bleak political situation that prevails in Pakistan the politicians seem to be gambling on a faint hope that there may be an outside chance of snatching an election victory despite Musharraf's manipulations and in its wake be able to politically force out the General from the Presidency.
Pakistan next week therefore faces complex uncertainties both for General Musharraf and so also for the established political parties of Pakistan. But one thing is certainly evident that General Musharraf is not the one to gracefully bow out from power. He can be expected to make last ditch stands to hold on to the reins of power with outright support from the Pakistan Army directly or obliquely.
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Dr. Subhash Kapila
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