A register of reports and views from the Pakistan press
A shocked general
PERVEZ MUSHARRAF returned to Pakistan hoping to become a parliamentarian,but he has ended up becoming a prisoner in his own house. The former army chief and president is an accused in various cases,including the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto,for which this arrest has been ordered. Dawn reported on April 26: Pervez Musharraf was on Friday remanded into [the custody of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in the Benazir Bhutto murder case. The remand,which is to last until April 30,was ordered by the Rawalpindi Anti-Terrorist Court,which has been hearing the case… Musharraf is to remain at his farmhouse… during the period of his physical remand. Earlier on Thursday,the FIA had formally arrested Musharraf and had interrogated him in the case. The agency had taken the step after securing permission from the ATC. The Express Tribune added: Musharraf… has been confined to two rooms and stripped of his personal staff… He is also barred from running in next months general election… and has been threatened with death by the Taliban.
PAKISTANS poor security situation continues to cast a shadow on the election campaign,as well as the voting on May 11. Some feel voting day may be postponed as the situation is particularly bad in Sindh and the Pushtun belt. Karachi wore a deserted look yesterday after attacks on Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) workers jolted the city.
The News reported on April 25: At least six people were killed and 12 others suffered wounds after a powerful blast ripped through Nusrat Bhutto Colony… on Thursday night. According to [the police,the bomb,which was planted in a motorcycle,went off outside one of the election offices of the MQM,the apparent target. The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility of todays attack on MQM. The TTP had earlier declared democracy un-Isalmic and issued threats of attack on the MQM,Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP).
An editorial in Daily Times on April 26 summed up the situation and its possible ramifications on the election,which would mark Pakistans first-ever democratic transition: The string of blasts in Quetta,Karachi,Peshawar and DI Khan bear the imprimatur of the Taliban,which has vowed to disrupt,if not stop,these elections. One can therefore only sympathise with,and admire the courage of,those who have put life and limb on the line to carry through the democratic process. Three parties in particular,the PPP,the MQM and ANP,have been singled out by the terrorists as targets because of their secular leanings. The rest may be cocooned in silence,but post-elections they may not be able to remain as sanguine that they are safe,since the Taliban have made no secret of their antipathy for democracy. The winners,in particular,may well prove to be at risk across the board in the future. Given the rash of violence,voices are being heard asking for the postponement of the elections.
Fatwa to vote
ON ONE hand,Pakistans religious fanatics are anti-elections,on the other,the liberal mullahs have issued a fatwa urging people to vote,especially women. Daily Times reported on April 26: Religious scholars and the members of the All Pakistan Ulema Council have issued a 40-page edict,which declares the non-casting of vote a sin,saying that casting vote is compulsory under Islamic injunctions… the religious scholars presented the edict and said that Pakistan is suffering [through a very difficult time and a change in the country is possible only through [the ballot. They said that is a religious responsibility of every Pakistani… because vote-casting is like deposing in a court of law,so concealing evidence is a sin… women have equal rights to vote,it is not religion that bars them from voting,but the feudal system.