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Pakistan to Delay General Elections

Posted January. 03, 2008 04:35,   


Pakistan’s general elections will be put off for more than a month from the original date of January 8.

The Associated Press reported yesterday that the elections will come after the third week of February, quoting a senior Pakistani election official.

The International Herald Tribune quoted a source close to the ruling party as saying the elections will be delayed for at least six weeks.

The AP said the vote will probably not be held during the holy month of Muharram, from Jan. 10 to Feb. 8, due to the lack of security and peace guarantees between warring Pakistani Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

The Tribune predicts that voters can cast ballots after February 21, when even the minor Muharram festivals are over.

But the two main opposition parties, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League (PML), are condemning the delay.

PPP Senator Babar Awan blamed the postponement on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s fear of losing, and severe public opposition will be aroused.

PML spokesman Ahsan Iqbal accused Musharraf of using the delay to quell anger over former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

Sen. Latif Khosa, who had served as a top aide to Bhutto, said that on the day Bhutto was killed, she was planning to give two U.S. congressmen a 160-page dossier on how the Musharraf government tried to rig the elections, including through the use of intelligence.

The Tribune, however, shed light on the deep-rooted feud among the Bhuttos. The daily said Bhutto’s nephew Zulfiqar did not mourn for his aunt during the official mourning period. He also snubbed the funeral though he idled the whole day in the backyard where the service was held.

Zulfiqar is the son of Bhutto’s brother Murtaza, who was shot to death by cops in front of his Karachi house in 1996.

After Murtaza was killed, his wife blamed Bhutto`s husband Asif Ali Zadari for the assassination, since Murtaza was ousted in a power struggle with Benazir Bhutto.

The newspaper also said Benazir Bhutto considered the PPP as part of her personal assets, citing detailed instructions in her will on treating her belongings and servants, and choosing her first son Bilawal as her successor.

The Tribune said the feud also affected PPP supporters, but that Bilawal would lead the party in the end.