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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pakistan Parliamentary Election Set for Monday

George Wenschhof

After a suspension of the constitution (some would call it martial
law), the removal of all the Justices of the Supreme Court, the return
to the country of two former exiled Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and
Benazir Bhutto - who was later assassinated, Pakistan will finally be
holding their Parliamentary election.

The Bush administration continues to send Billions without being
subject to any reasonable accountability to Pakistan. This funding by
the U.S. continues despite current Pakistan President Pervez
Musharraf's disdain for democracy and lack of respect for human

Musharraf removed the Supreme Court Justices from office when it
appeared they were set to rule that his recent reelection as President
of Pakistan was unconstitutional. Former Chief Justice Iftikhar
Chaudhry and five other Justices remain under house arrest.

So who will be the new Prime Minister of Pakistan and what will be the
make up of their Parliament? Their Parliament is made up of a Senate
(100 members) and a National Assembly (342 members) of which
approximately one third is up for election.

After the death of Benazir Bhutto, her party, the Pakistan Peoples
Party (PPP) named her husband Asifali Zardari, and her son Bilawal
Zardari as co - leaders. Bhutto's husband had the nickname of Mr. 10%
as a result of alleged kickbacks he received when Benazir Bhutto was
in office and he is one of the candidates.

Nawaz Sharif, another former Prime Minister who was toppled by
Musharraf eight years ago in a bloodless coup is another candidate.
His party is the Pakistan Muslim League - N

Musharraf's party is the Pakistan Muslim League - Q. Here is a quick
explanation and guide to the parties in Pakistan as reported by CNN:

A change in the composition of the Parliament could also result in a
move to impeach President Pervez Musharraf. A survey funded by the
U.S. conducted between January 19 -29 by the International Republican
Institute showed the following: PPP - 50%, PML-N - 22%, PML-Q - 14%

There is a very high degree of suspicion of rigged elections by the
present government and the fear violence may occur as a result. There
are reportedly over 64,000 polling locations in Pakistan and Musharraf
has said he will have troops at every polling location. Both Zardari
and Sharif have promised street demonstrations if elections are

Over one thousand international observers will be on hand to monitor
this election. Let's hope that the votes are recorded accurately and
no violence erupts as the results are made public.

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