Musharraf, Scared of Losing, Looks to Delay Elections

January 1, 2008

It’s looking ever more likely that Pakistanis will lose their chance to evict Musharraf. Kanwar Dilshad, spokesman for Pakistan’s electoral commission, said that the final decision would be reached on Wednesday after a discussion with other political parties – but his comment that holding elections as scheduled “looks impossible” tells you all you need to know. It’s entirely possible that Musharraf is taking lessons from Kibaki in Kenya, and making sure that his election is less obviously rigged.

I wont say too much about Bhutto’s death – jobsanger does a good job of explaining the ramifications of that. But although I doubt that Musharraf had Bhutto assassinated with his own forces, it’s highly likely that he supported whichever militia carried out the attack on her. That’s a win-win situation: the militia, with its religiously twisted moral views, got Bhutto dead, and Musharraf imagined himself receiving more support for his tough-on-terrorism stance. (A bonus here is support from the Bush administration, which apparently has a rabid desire to support anything that denounces terrorism – both governments now say that Al-Qaeda was responsible for her death, with no evidence whatsoever; this blog post counters that argument). Silencing the doctors who tried to resuscitate Bhutto only makes Musharraf look more guilty, and Richard Power lists many well-chosen articles that clearly show how Musharraf orchestrated Bhutto’s death. (I myself saw police hosing down the crime scene on live Sky News television). The Pakistani government has also hidden the true cause of her death, and blamed it on her hitting her head too hard as she ducked. (No, I’m not joking). This informative post by Errington Thompson refutes that argument.

If Musharraf did indeed have Bhutto killed, he was apparently deluded enough not to predict the outpouring of sympathy from the Pakistani people for the PPP, and the general idea that Musharraf is to blame for her death. Now Musharraf has panicked and is all in favour of delaying elections. Plans he may have had to rig the vote are probably being blown apart with the destruction of ballot boxes and disruption with the delivery of ballot papers. Then again, I wouldn’t surprised if he had Bhutto killed in order to generate a pretext to delay elections that he was set to lose.

As PPP Senator Dr Dabar Awan says, “there is no clause in the Constitution for the postponement of the elections”, and delaying those elections would be tantamount to Musharraf instituting a third martial law. Elections must be held, and elections must be fair, or else Pakistan will sink into chaos.

– Nishant