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  #41  
Old Sunday, December 09, 2007
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JI, PTI pressuring PML-N to boycott elections

ISLAMABAD: The fate of the APDM hangs in balance as the component parties will meet today (Sunday) with divergent views on boycotting the January 8 elections. After the PPP and the JUI-F refusal to boycott the elections, and due to dissent within the party, the PML-N has given a green signal to its party ticket holders to prepare for the elections. The APDM component parties, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), the Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), and the Balochistan National Party-Hayee (BNP-H) would pressure the PML-N to stick to boycotting the polls. irfan ghauri

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default...-12-2007_pg1_3
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  #42  
Old Monday, December 10, 2007
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Opposition to Take Part in Pakistan Elections
By CARLOTTA GALL
Published: December 10, 2007
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec. 9 —


The two main opposition parties led by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif said they would participate in Jan. 8 parliamentary elections, despite deep misgivings about whether the vote could be free and fair.

The move came as an opposition call to boycott the elections foundered Sunday.

Mr. Sharif, the former prime minister who returned from exile two weeks ago but has been barred from running himself, would marshal his party to participate in elections, said Ahsan Iqbal, a party spokesman.

Mr. Sharif had called for a boycott of the election to protest the continued rule of Pakistan’s president, Pervez Musharraf, who imposed a state of emergency on Nov. 3, suspending the Constitution and dismissing the Supreme Court. But when Ms. Bhutto, also a former prime minister, made it clear that her party would run, Mr. Sharif could not afford to stay out of the race, Mr. Iqbal said.

The parties that will participate say that they are doing so “under protest,” and that they will mount a campaign against unfair election conditions and the government’s efforts to return a Parliament and government favorable to Mr. Musharraf.

The participation of the main opposition parties would grant some credibility to Mr. Musharraf. Opposition groups that support a boycott argue that fair elections would be impossible with the country still under emergency rule, a muzzled news media and a pro-Musharraf caretaker government, election commission and newly appointed Supreme Court in place.

Ms. Bhutto said her Pakistan Peoples Party would participate in the elections in order to force them to be open and to prevent the pro-Musharraf coalition from winning a majority.

“We believe it is important to take part under protest because by boycotting we play into the hands of Musharraf,” she said in a telephone interview on Sunday from her home in the United Arab Emirates, where she spent the weekend.

Mr. Musharraf has said he will lift emergency rule on Sunday and has pledged to hold “fair and free elections according to the Constitution.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Sharif’s marshaling of his supporters represents a strong challenge to Mr. Musharraf. Mr. Sharif leads a faction of the Pakistan Muslim League and his base of support is Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province and the most important in the electoral college. His participation is likely to cut into the strength of the bloc of the Pakistan Muslim League that supports Mr. Musharraf.

Ms. Bhutto was in talks with opposition parties earlier in the year to mount a united democratic front against Mr. Musharraf, who has ruled Pakistan since seizing power in a coup in 1999. But in recent months, she also opened negotiations with Mr. Musharraf over a power-sharing arrangement that would have allowed her to become prime minister as Mr. Musharraf stepped down as army chief to become a civilian president.

Since her return to Pakistan on Oct. 18 — and in particular after she was placed under house arrest twice and hundreds of workers in her party were arrested — her relations with Mr. Musharraf have deteriorated, prompting her to find common ground with other opposition parties.

Any future cooperation with Mr. Musharraf would depend on how the elections proceed, Ms. Bhutto said.

“It is not clear that these elections are going to be fair; it depends on the fairness issue,” she said. “I would like to wait and see if the elections are fair and if Musharraf is an instrument for democracy or if he is an obstacle to a democratic Pakistan.”

Ms. Bhutto said her party had learned that boycotting elections, as it had in 1985, was a mistake because it allowed the military government at the time to handpick the Parliament and government, leaving opposition parties sidelined for five years. “Our vote bank shrank, some of our leading candidates disappeared and people emerged on the political scene who spent their energy on ethnic, lingual and sectarian differences,” she said.

The opposition parties have been drawing up a list of demands for the government to address to ensure free and fair elections. Those are likely to include appointing a neutral caretaker government and election commission.

Yet the opposition remains fractured. Mr. Sharif failed to persuade the members of the opposition alliance that he leads, the All Parties Democratic Movement, to adopt a united stand during a six-hour meeting on Sunday evening. With some smaller opposition parties still insisting on a boycott, the alliance could agree only to postpone the decision on a boycott and let those parties decide on their own.

Two parties, the religious Islamic Party and the Movement for Justice party of the former cricket star Imran Khan, have said they will boycott the vote. Both have been strident critics of Mr. Musharraf.

The lawyers’ movement, which has led the calls for Mr. Musharraf’s resignation, has also urged parties to boycott unless the judiciary is restored. Four leading lawyers remain under house arrest, as do a large number of judges, including the dismissed chief justice


http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/10/wo...ld&oref=slogin
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Pakistan votes for Israeli resolution




By Masood Haider

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 11: Pakistan on Tuesday surprised the Muslim nations by voting for a resolution sponsored by Israel in a committee of the UN General Assembly. Most Muslim countries abstained.

Although the resolution sponsored by Israel and European nations related to “agricultural technology for development,” most Arab envoys said that until the issue of occupied territories was resolved, they cannot support any Israeli-sponsored resolution.

The resolution was adopted with 118 in favour and 29 abstentions.

Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman hailed the adoption of the resolution saying that a new spirit of cooperation existed among member states. He chastised South Africa for voting against the resolution.

No one from the Pakistan mission was available to comment on the vote.

Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram was away in Bali (Indonesia) to attend the UN climate change meeting
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  #44  
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President pledges to cooperate with whoever wins polls: I am not a trouble maker: Musharraf

* President says he will keep close relationship with army as civilian president
* Iftikhar wanted to remove him ‘illegally’

ISLAMABAD/SIALKOT: President Pervez Musharraf pledged on Tuesday to cooperate with whoever wins January’s crucial general elections, saying that he was not a “trouble creator”, AFP reported.

Opposition leaders and former premiers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif have accused Musharraf of wanting to rig the polls in favour of parties that back him, although both have declined to boycott the elections.

But Musharraf told Al-Jazeera’s English channel that he was willing to work with the victors of the January 8 polls.

“I will try to work with anyone who comes to power after the elections,” Musharraf said in an interview broadcast on Tuesday. “I interact with people quite well, I am not such a trouble creator.”

Although both Benazir and Nawaz are currently barred from serving a third term in office, neither has shown much inclination to let their parties cooperate with him after the elections.

After flying back to Islamabad from Dubai, Benazir on Tuesday hailed Nawaz for agreeing not to boycott the election, saying that the presence of the country’s big two parties would force a fair poll.

“Nawaz Sharif has taken a correct decision that his party should participate in the election,” Benazir told reporters, following Nawaz’s announcement at the weekend that the PML-N would contest the polls.

“When the two big parties participate, the government will be compelled to hold fair elections. It will strengthen democracy,” she added.

Fears of a boycott that would draw global criticism of the vote had haunted Musharraf and his loyalist party, created in 2002 to contest elections under his banner after poaching most of its members from Nawaz.

Relationship with army: International pressure has already forced Musharraf to quit as army chief late last month, but he told the channel that as a civilian president he would keep a close relationship with the military.

“My relationship with army is not direct, obviously. There is protocol obviously, there is the chief of army staff,” he said.

“However 46 years of association does not get washed off, they will remember me, I will remember them for quite some time to come,” he said.

Iftikhar: Defending his action against the superior judiciary, Musharraf told the channel that former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry wanted to “remove him illegally”, according to a Daily Times monitor report.

He said if Chaudhry had been allowed “to have his way”, the judiciary would have landed the country into chaos.

Separately, while inaugurating the Sialkot International Airport, Musharraf said the elections would be free and fair, and would be held in time, according to a Daily Times report.

He said holding of the elections, maintaining economic upsurge and countering terrorism were the three major issues confronting the country.

The president said there was a vital need to maintain the economic upsurge to ensure that its gains continued to reach the lowest tiers of society.

Calling terrorism a ‘cancer’, he said it had to be defeated at all costs, otherwise it could seriously damage the country.

Musharraf also expressed concern over the escalating prices of wheat, and said wheat was smuggled to neighbouring countries because of its cheaper price in Pakistan.

He said there was a need to encourage farmers to sell it locally, and to discourage wheat smuggling.

He said the government would subsidise its sale through the Utility Stores Corporation (USC), adding that the USC was increasing the number of utility stores and that in the next four months every union council would have one utility store. afp/staff report
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  #45  
Old Wednesday, December 12, 2007
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MMA to contest polls: Fazl

* JUI-F chief rules out division in the ranks of MMA
* Qazi says MMA no longer political alliance, merely a religious one

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA)’s Supreme Council on Tuesday decided to contest the general elections under the umbrella of the MMA and chose ‘book’ as their election symbol, reported Dawn News.

Speaking to reporters after a Supreme Council meeting – earlier called off by MMA President Qazi Hussain Ahmed, but later reconvened by Secretary General Maulana Fazlur Rehman – in Islamabad, Fazl said four out of the six component parties of the MMA would contest the forthcoming elections from the platform of the MMA. He said the MMA had established a central parliamentary board headed by himself, which would submit a fresh list of female and minority candidates for the reserved seats to the Election Commission.

Rules out division: He ruled out any division among the ranks of the six-party religious alliance and said the MMA was intact. Although Fazl said the MMA was still headed by Qazi - who heads the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) as well - the JI and JUI-Sami did not attend the meeting, the channel reported.

The MMA was near collapse earlier on Tuesday after the last-ditch meeting of the Supreme Council to resolve differences over a possible election boycott was cancelled, AFP quoted party officials as saying.

“It is an alliance by name only,” the alliance’s chief, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, told Geo television. “We are not dissolving it. We want relations to continue so that at some later stage we could sit together again, once the drama of the fraudulent election is over,” he said.

“This election will strengthen the hands of dictatorship,” said Qazi. The principal division is between JI, which wants a boycott, and the JUI-F, which favours taking part.

Religious alliance: Qazi told reporters that the MMA was not a political and electoral alliance anymore, but merely a religious one, Online reported. He said that every component party was taking decisions on its own, so the Supreme Council meeting had no value. Earlier, sources within the alliance had said that Fazl had formed a new MMA minus the JI and JUI-S, which would prepare its election manifesto and contest the polls with the election symbol of ‘book’, Daily Times staff reporter adds. daily times monitor/agencies/staff report
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CNIC compulsory for casting vote

ISLAMABAD: Production of Cumputerised National Identity Card (CNIC) is compulsory for a voter at the time of casting vote, said the Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday. A spokesman for the EC said reports that any voter not in possession of CNIC will be eligible to cast his vote by producing driving licence, passport, domicile or any other identification document were misleading. He said production of the CNIC was compulsory in pursuance of Section 33 of the Representation of the People Act, 1976, for casting of vote. staff report
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IJT’s participation cools down anti-Musharraf rally in PU

By Adnan Lodhi

LAHORE: A planned rally of Punjab University (PU) students against President Pervez Musharraf flopped due to the participation of Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) activists.

A few PU students along with IJT workers took out a rally from the varsity’s Institute of Communication Study on Tuesday to show solidarity with the deposed judges. However, most of the expected PU students said they would not stand on any platform with the IJT as its policies were against the students. They said the IJT was also involved in manhandling of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan.

A PU student told Daily Times that the IJT activists, after getting the news about the rally, gathered in the ICS department. He said the IJT activists, mostly PU dropouts, told them that students were not allowed to take out rallies without the permission of the PU IJT nazim. “The IJT workers later joined the rally but our fellow students refused to take part in the rally in the presence of IJT workers,” he said.

Naveed Alam, a PU student, told Daily Times that female students from other departments wanted to join the protest but refused after seeing IJT activists there. He said the PU students would plan another rally after a meeting.

A large number of PU students, last month, took out rallies against the IJT after the Imran Khan episode. The PU students said the varsity was still going through a stressed situation.

PU IJT media secretary Imran Kiani told Daily Times that IJT was also protesting against President Musharraf. “We are planning to join the lawyers in this connection,” he said.

However, a handful of protesters shouted slogans against President Musharraf and “the martial law” and in favour of the deposed judges. The participants also burnt an effigy of President Musharraf.
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Old Sunday, December 16, 2007
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Emergency goes, constitution returns

* AG says amended constitution completely restored
* Musharraf claims he saved nation
* Promises free, transparent elections
* Says Swat to receive relief package soon

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf lifted the state of emergency on Saturday, revoked the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) and restored the 1973 Constitution with certain amendments that will be ratified by the next parliament through a legal framework order (LFO).

The removal of the PCO restored all the fundamental rights that had been suspended since the imposition of emergency 42 days ago.

The president issued three presidential orders — the Revocation of Proclamation of Emergency Order 2007, the Repeal of Provisional Constitution Order and the Revival of Constitution Order — which stated that the constitution, as amended through the Constitution (Amendment) Order, 2007, and the Constitution (Second Amendment) Order, 2007, will stand revived..

Nothing suspended: “The (1973) Constitution stands amended and nothing remains in suspension,” Attorney General (AG) Malik Qayyum told Daily Times when asked if any of the articles of the constitution were still suspended, even after the revocation of the PCO. During the 42-day suspension of the constitution, the president made several amendments that were all inculcated in the amended constitution. Qayyum claimed that none of these amendments needed parliament’s ratification. President Musharraf made amendments to the constitution on November 21 to provide legal cover to holding the constitution in abeyance, imposing emergency rule and issuing the PCO.

Saved the nation: Later, addressing the nation on radio and television, President Pervez Musharraf said that his emergency rule had saved Pakistan, as he vowed to hold free, fair and transparent elections on time and urged the political parties and the nation to avoid the politics of agitation.

Free and transparent: “It is my commitment to the entire nation and the world that the election on January 8 will be on time and will be absolutely free and transparent, he said. He regretted that some political parties have announced boycott of the election. “These political parties have no reason to boycott the election,” he said. He said some political leaders had started to talk of rigging even before the start of the election campaign. “This is all baseless and they must desist from it,” he added. He said the government would invite any number of foreign observers to come and watch the fairness of the polls.

He appealed to all the political parties to maintain peace during the election, and urged the nation not to participate in any street agitation. He also appealed to the nation to fully participate in the election.

The president said that those who lose the January 8 polls must avoid levelling baseless allegations. Referring to his decision to impose emergency and the PCO, he said he was very saddened that the smooth transition to civilian democracy, underway in three stages from 1999, was obstructed through a conspiracy. He said the conspiracy was meant to destabilise the country.

Relief package: He said it was the first time in the country’s history that emergency was being lifted after only 42 days. He said there has been considerable improvement in the past 42 days, adding that terrorism that had spread into NWFP had now been stopped. He also announced that a relief package would soon be announced for the people of Swat. He said now there was complete harmony among the three pillars of the state — the judiciary, the parliament and the executive.
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‘Ban on third time PM to continue’

ISLAMABAD: Attorney General (AG) Malik Qayyum told BBC on Saturday the ban on a third term as premier would continue, and the government had not yet decided to lift the ban. He said new parliament after the elections might decide it. He said since Shahbaz Sharif had not been convicted, he personally believed the rejection of his papers to be incorrect. nni
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No justification for boycott: Fazl

PESHAWAR: JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Saturday welcomed the lifting of emergency rule by the president, terming it a good omen for democracy in the country. The JUI-F leader said that while there had been no need to boycott the polls under the state of emergency, the elements pressing for the boycott now had no justification. app
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