Pakistan polls boycott ball now in Benazir’s court: Sharif

November 30th, 2007 - 2:40 pm ICT by admin  

Lahore, Nov 30 (ANI): While the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) has announced a boycott of the January 8 general election, the reluctant Pakistan People’s Party of Benazir Bhutto is yet to give her nod to the APDM decision.
Besides Benazir, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam of Maulana Fazlur Rehman is yet to decide on the poll boycott.
When the alliance on Thursday unanimously decided to boycott the election, it also formed a five-member committee, which comprises of former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf Chairman Imran Khan, to convince Benazir and Maulana Fazl to join hands with the APDM in rejecting the electoral process, reported the Dawn.
Benazir and Maulana Fazlur now hold the key to the APDM announcement, which has the potential of seriously jeopardising the election exercise.
Both Benazir and the Maulana have so far shown an inclination to take part in the polls, even though Benazir had in her statements not ruled out a boycott.
The APDM candidates, who had filed their nomination papers, would withdraw from polls on the last date for the withdrawal of papers that is December 15, Sharif said.
The announcement came on the day when President Pervez Musharraf took oath as the civilian president and said that he would lift the emergency on December 16.
Apparently, Musharraf has planned it perfectly since he still had the option of postponing the polls should it become necessary in the wake of a boycott by the whole of the opposition.
However, according to observers, Musharraf could still accept all APDM demands but one - restoration of the judiciary deposed after emergency was declared on November 3.
Many nationalist parties in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan, also favoured a boycott.
However, the Awami National Party (AWP) has said that it would withdraw from the election provided Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, its rival party in the NWFP, also boycotts the polls, the sources were quoted, as saying.
In case Benazir and the Maulana are persuaded to join the opposition boycott, it could render the election process meaningless, with only the official Pakistan Muslim League and its ally Muttahida Qaumi Movement along with smaller parties such as Pakistan Muslim League (Functional) and Pakistan People’s Party (Sherpao) left in the fray.
Amid meek PPP explanations that the party was contesting the polls in protest or because it didn’t want to give the official side a walkover, some political observers insisted that, come what may, Benazir was honour-bound to fight the polls.
Even if that was the case, she will find it hard to stand her ground in the face of the pressure mounted on her by the APDM and by other groups in the country, such as lawyers. (ANI)

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