LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) refuses to be part of the proposed national consensus government, believing that the idea is against the party principles. “My party will never become a part of the proposed national set-up because I cannot compromise on principles,” PTI chief Imran Khan said in a press conference here on Wednesday. He invited all political forces to join in a two-day sit-in the PTI was organising in Peshawar on the supply route of Nato forces on April 23 and 24. He warned the government against obstructing the sit-in being staged to free the country from slavery of the Western forces. Holding the rulers responsible for deaths of innocent people, including women and children in drone attacks, he urged upon `sincere` political forces to join him in cutting supplies to US-led allied forces in Afghanistan. “The rulers are criminally ignoring the massacre of innocent civilians in drone strikes by the US, while the nation is strongly condemning the predator hits.” Mr Khan said corruption scandals regarding Nato supplies reflected what was making the rulers to keep a mum at violations of the country`s airspace through aerial attacks in South and North Waziristan Agency. The PTI chief said he hoped the sit-in would be historic as at least 20,000 activists from his party alone besides workers of other political forces and members of the civil society would participate in it. About going soft on former army dictator Pervez Musharraf, he said he continued criticizing him (Musharraf) even when he was in power. REFERENCE: PTI won’t be part of national govt: ImranFrom the Newspaper Yesterday http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/21/pti-won-t-be-part-of-national-govt.html
Is the Establisment behind Imran Khan - 1 (Aapas Ki Baat 19 APR 2011)
The Salim Saifullah-led provincial chapter of the PML-Q followed the party guideline regarding support to the government. In addition, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI), Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT), Omar Asghar’s newly-launched Qaumi Jamhoori Party (QJP) and Fanoos Gujar’s little known Pakistan Awami Party (PAP) have also served as the king’s party. “On April 30, you have to support a bleak or bright future for Pakistan. If you are keen on a bright future for your next generation, you must stamp yes for Musharraf in the referendum,” Imran Khan reportedly said at a function in Peshawar. During their visit to various parts of the province, the ex-cricket star together with Tehrik-i- Insaaf’s provincial president, Nawabzada Mohsin Ali Khan, focused on the corruption of the former premiers in order to seek public support for the government. REFERENCE: Saviour of Pakistan, Musharraf Khan? By Amir Mohammed Khan 15 MAY 2002 http://www.newslinemagazine.com/2002/05/saviour-of-pakistan/
Is the Establisment behind Imran Khan - 2 (Aapas Ki Baat 19 APR 2011)
General Pervez Musharraf hopes the referendum will give his presidency legitimacy. A referendum win would allow him to remain in office until 2007 and he could well stay on even longer.After his coup in 1999, General Musharraf declared in a press conference that he would remain in office for just three years. But like many military rulers before him he is reluctant to give up power.He argues that his staying in office is the only way to ensure economic recovery, social stability and the eventual establishment of "true" democracy in Pakistan. But he is also motivated by a fear that, if he were to stand down in favour of democratically elected politicians, he could face a treason charge. The army has never been able to deny that the 1999 coup was unconstitutional.
A referendum win, however, might not give President Musharraf the legitimacy he is seeking. A former military ruler in Pakistan, General Zia, also called a referendum but the tactic brought him few benefits. In 1984, Zia put this question to the Pakistani people: "Do you endorse the process initiated by General Mohammed Zia ul Haq, the President of Pakistan, to bring in laws in conformity with the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Koran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and for the preservation of the ideology of Pakistan".
Even though Zia won, the question was so loaded, and the turnout so low, he still faced sustained challenges from the politicians right up until the moment he died in suspicious circumstances in a 1988 air crash. President Musharraf has indicated that this time the referendum will be in the form of a simple "yes" or "no" question.But the military fears a low turn out. All the main political parties and religious groups have called for a boycott of the vote.
Politicians fight back
The politicians now believe the army will deny them power for the foreseeable future. When the referendum result is announced next month, the turn out figures will almost certainly be disputed. Ever since the 1999 coup, the major political parties have played a muted role, for the most part accommodating themselves to the military government. Now, President Musharraf is clearly determined to remain in power they are likely to oppose him with greater vigour. Under Pakistan's constitution, the president should be elected by the membership of the National Assembly and the Senate. The politicians had hoped that, after the parliamentary elections due this October, they could use that power to deny President Musharraf another term. But by opting for a referendum, President Musharraf is calculating that he will be able to by-pass the constitutional procedure and remain in office even if the politicians oppose him. REFERENCE: Analysis: Musharraf's referendum gamble Friday, 5 April, 2002, 20:34 GMT 21:34 UK http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1913990.stm
Pakistani cricket legend-turned politician Imran Khan on Tuesday backed the referendum to be held next month to decide the future of President Pervez Musharraf but his fledgling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf headed for trouble as some of its leaders have opposed it openly. After considerable dithering, Imran Khan declared that his party has decided to support Musharraf's referendum. In a statement issued from Karachi, Imran said he has decided to support the referendum as he believed that Musharraf wanted "to make Pakistan a modern Islamic, welfare state". Imran said his party wants to play its real role as "we desire that democracy is promoted in the country and a clean leadership come to the fore". Imran launched his party with a lot of fanfare in the last general elections but ended up in a great disappointment after he failed to win a single seat even though he himself contested 22 seats from different regions.
A bitter critic of former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, Imran alleged that politicians in the country minted money through corruption during the last 12 years. The referendum has been opposed by all the major political parties including Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party, (PPP) and Sharif's Pakistan Muslim league (PML). While Imran announced the support to the referendum, a section of his party headed by General Secretary Miraj Muhammad Khan openly opposed the party decision to back it. Pakistan Daily quoted a party sources as saying that Miraj was bitterly critical of the party accepting the "undemocratic" move of Musharraf trying to get elected for a five year term through a referendum. REFERENCE: Imran backs Musharraf's referendum, party members oppose Press Trust of India Posted: Apr 09, 2002 at 1518 hrs IST http://www.expressindia.com/news/fullstory.php?newsid=9092
Is the Establisment behind Imran Khan - 4 (Aapas Ki Baat 19 APR 2011)
Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf chief Imran Khan has hailed the SC verdict on the Oct 12 change and said that it will provide the present government with an element of legitimacy. Mr Khan said the government should start the implementation of the seven-point agenda. He said it should give priority to the accountability process. It should declare casting of vote mandatory for every voter and undertake other needed electoral reforms to discourage the election of corrupt elements for parliamentary slots. He said the government should also set a limit for election expenditure. In a Press statement issued on Friday, he said after the announcement of the SC verdict the government would no longer be able to give lame excuses to the people who were waiting for positive results. He said the government should have got a vote of public confidence directly through a referendum soon after the takeover. But now the regime should fulfil its promises without any delay and work in accordance with public expectations as it has been provided a period of three years for this purpose by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Reference: PML accepts SC verdict: Shujaat Reporter 13 May 2000 http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/2000/may13.html#pmla
“Either I could lie to save my job, or tell the truth to save my character”
- Justice (Retd.) Tariq Mahmood
Q. Your resignation from the Election Commission and the Balochistan High Court generated much controversy. Would you comment?
A. I was appointed by the President of Pakistan along with three other judges from all four High Courts to the Election Commission in February, for the general elections due to be held in October. When the government decided to conduct the referendum and the task was assigned to the Election Commission, I resigned as I believe that the EC should not be involved in such an unconstitutional act.
Q. What is your objection to the referendum?
A. I have no objection to the referendum, which is constitutional if it is held on national issues, not for the election of the President, for which there is a set procedure in the Constitution. I did not agree with the holding of this referendum. And I did not want to blacken my face by having a hand in this unconstitutional affair.
Q. Were there any differences between you and the Chief Election Commissioner?
A. Not at all. I have no personal differences with Justice Irshad Hasan Khan, I hold him in high regard. Obviously on the referendum issue, I differed with him on principle.
Q. You have resigned as a member of the EC on the referendum issue, but what about the PCO you took oath under, in which you pledged loyalty to the military government?
A. First of all, the Supreme Court validated the PCO in its judgment in the Syed Zafar Ali Shah case. Secondly, the PCO never came in the way of my duties during my 17 months service as a judge. I never considered the PCO as a sword of Damocles while writing judgments. If someone has to work, there are always many options open. I will quote one example: I heard a famous case regarding the local bodies elections and the defendant was arguing that the High Court is not competent to hear the case, but I accepted the writ petition. If I had been influenced by the PCO, I would not have accepted the writ.
Q. According to official quarters, a decision had been taken to get rid of you, so you were given the option of resigning, otherwise you would have been sacked. Is this correct?
A. No, I was not asked to resign, but there was tremendous pressure on me from the government to withdraw my statement. I have taken an oath not to lie, if I had withdrawn my statement, it would have been tantamount to lying. There would have been no justification for me to continue as a High Court judge.
Khawaja Asif Exposes Imran Khan & Kashif Abbasi - 1 (Off The Record 24 Mar 2011)
Pakistan’s higher judiciary has repeatedly validated military interventions and sanctioned constitutional amendments that have fundamentally altered the legal and political system. Attempting to explain its failure to protect the constitution through the “doctrine of state necessity”, the judiciary has relied on the dubious argument that the army’s intervention could be justified because of the pressing need for political stability. This doctrine was first developed in three cases in 1955 in the Federal Court, as the Supreme Court was then known, to justify the extra-constitutional dismissal of the legislature by a titular head of state.11 Drawing on the precedent of those decisions, the Supreme Court validated General Mohammed Ayub Khan’s 1958 declaration of martial law, General Mohammad Ziaul Haq’s 1977 coup and General Pervez Musharraf’s 1999 coup. While these Supreme Court judgments gave military regimes the trappings of legality, repeated military interventions have hampered the growth of civilian institutions and moderate political parties and forces. The centralisation of power in a Punjabi-dominated army has also strained centre-province relations in a multi-ethnic, multi-regional state, even as the military’s use of religion to justify political control has undermined the security of Pakistani citizens, particularly women and religious and sectarian minorities. REFERENCE: Reforming the Judiciary in Pakistan Asia Report N°160 16 October 2008 http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=5728&l=1
VALIDATING MILITARY INTERVENTIONS
Some courageous judges, such as Supreme Court Justices Dorab Patel and Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim,15 have refused to sanctify authoritarian interventions, and preferred to resign rather than undermine constitutionalism and the rule of law. By legitimising military rule and intervention, most have, however, abdicated their duty to uphold the law. Following Musharraf’s coup, the Supreme Court was purged of judges who might have opposed the military’s unconstitutional assumption of power. Judges were required to take an oath to Musharraf’s Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO), 1999, superseding the oath they had sworn at their induction to the 1973 constitution.16 On 26 January 2000, thirteen judges, including Chief Justice Saiduzzaman Siddiqui and four other Supreme Court justices, were removed for refusing to do so. The reconstituted Supreme Court was composed of judges who willingly accepted the military’s directions. They included Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was elevated to the Court in January 2000 and appointed chief justice by Musharraf in 2005. The judges took their oath of office under the PCO 1999, which omits the reference to their duty to “protect, uphold and defend” the 1973 constitution. On 21 May 2000, this bench upheld the legality of Musharraf’s coup under the doctrine of state necessity. The Supreme Court also authorised the army chief to amend the constitution, albeit within the bounds of its federal, democratic and parliamentary character. The Court also concluded that those judges who had been sacked following the PCO oath had lost any right to challenge their removal due to the passage of time. By placing personal survival over the rule of law and constitutionalism, these judges allowed another dicta tor to implement sweeping changes that expanded the military’s political powers and hold over the state. REFERENCE: Reforming the Judiciary in Pakistan Asia Report N°160 16 October 2008http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=5728&l=1
Like Zia’s Eighth Amendment, Musharraf’s Seventeenth Amendment, passed by a rubber-stamp parliament in December 2003, enshrined all executive orders and changes made under military rule.21 The Seventeenth Amendment gave the president, the titular head of state, the power to dismiss elected governments and parliament and also transferred from the prime minister, the head of government, key appointment powers to the president including appointments of governors, the three service chiefs and the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Musharraf’s constitutional distortions weakened civilian institutions. By sidelining secular democratic forces, the military government also enabled right-wing religious parties to fill the vacuum. In dismissing legal challenges to Seventeenth Amendment, the Supreme Court shirked its responsibility to protect constitutional rule. REFERENCE: Reforming the Judiciary in Pakistan Asia Report N°160 16 October 2008 http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=5728&l=1
Q. There is a perception that your resignation was politically motivated….
A. I have never been associated with any political parties and I am honestly telling you that there is no truth in this. Yes, after my resignation I received a number of messages from politicians and lawyers appreciating my action. I have never even met the majority of them. I acted according to my conscience.
Q. Why did you attend the lawyers’ protest gathering against the referendum?
A. I did not participate in the protest gathering against the referendum. Obviously I visited the High Court and district bar rooms after my resignation. When the Bar President and other lawyers were arrested, I went again. I have received a number of requests to speak from different Bars like Peshawar, Pindi/Islamabad and Lahore, but I have regretted them all. Some even sent me air tickets, but I avoided going in case it gave the impression that I wanted to gain publicity. Although my home has almost become like a prison, I am still keeping away from such activities.
Q. Did you have the option to continue as a judge of the High Court after resigning from the Election Commission ?
A. Actually, I wanted to continue as judge and that was why I silently resigned from the EC instead of making it public. The EC issued a press release that due to the many pending cases before me, I was replaced by another judge from the Balochistan High Court on the advice of the Chief Justice. So when I was contacted by the Dawn and BBC, I had to give them the true picture. But I was clearly given three options: firstly, to disown my chat with the press; secondly, that the Election Commission would do so and I would not hold it in question, or thirdly, that I should quit. Under these circumstances, what could I have done? Either I could lie to save my job or tell the truth to save my character. And that is what I chose to do.
Q. What are your views about the constitutional amendments the Musharraf government intends to implement?
A. In accordance with the Supreme Court judgment in the Zafar Ali Shah Vs General Pervez Musharraf case, no amendment can be made in the salient features of the Constitution, which includes the parliamentary form of government in which the Prime Minister is all powerful. If an amendment is to be made to curtail the powers of the Prime Minister, reducing him to a rubber stamp, then the country will suffer and this will be in violation of the Supreme Court decision. Historically, whenever a Prime Minister has attempted to assert himself, he or she has met the same fate that Mohammad Khan Junejo did. In my view, the Supreme Court has given the Chief Executive the power to make amendments in the Constitution to achieve his government’s agenda, which he should have done during the last two and a half years. Now the question arises, with only five months left of his tenure and for the general elections, does the country need any amendment in the Constitution or not?
Khawaja Asif Exposes Imran Khan & Kashif Abbasi - 2 (Off The Record 24 Mar 2011)
Q. The Election Commission has clearly stated that the Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court asked for your withdrawal as a member of the commission through a letter dated April, 5, 2002. Is this correct?
A. I am sure, no such letter from the Chief Justice existed when I resigned on April, 6, 2002. Had the Chief Justice asked for my withdrawal, then the federal law secretary would not have sought my consent regarding my decision to resign.
Q. Did you ever think that the government would take such serious note of your resignation?
A. Definitely. I was apprehensive that I would face serious consequences, but I never expected so strong a reaction on the government’s part. My resignation was related to the Constitution, so I thought that ultimately sense would prevail and they would not go to the extent that they have. REFERENCE: Interview: Justice (retd) Tariq Mahmood By Newsline Editorial Staff 15 MAY 2002 http://www.newslinemagazine.com/2002/05/interview-tariq-mahmood/
Although various independent Gallup surveys ahead of the referendum indicated a decline in General Musharraf’s popularity graph, and all national and international media organisations as well as independent observers reported a lacklustre turnout in the referendum, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) nevertheless reported the turnout to be as high as 71 per cent. According to the official figures released by the ECP, some 97.5 per cent of people gave a verdict in favour of General Musharraf, while a mere 2.5 per cent rejected his candidature. “What people cannot do, can always be achieved through ‘angels.’ Let’s accept reality and say, ‘farishtay zindaabad ‘ (long live the angels),” was the response of an incredulous journalist when he heard the final results. As per the 1998 census, there were then 61.2 million people 18 years of age and above in the country, a number estimated to have increased to 61.9 million at present. A total of 87,074 polling stations and 163,641 additional polling booths were set up across the country and 414,356 public sector employees appointed to carry out electoral duties on polling day. The entire country was designated one constituency and all citizens aged 18 and above were deemed eligible to vote by establishing their identity through any reasonable means. “A total of 43,907,950 votes were polled, out of which 42,804,030 were in the affirmative, while the rest – 833,676 – said ‘no’. These numbers translate into a 71 per cent voter turnout – the highest in the history of Pakistan,” announced Chief Election Commissioner, Justice (Retd) Irshad Hasan Khan.
Khawaja Asif Exposes Imran Khan & Kashif Abbasi - 3 (Off The Record 24 Mar 2011)
Although General Musharraf’s victory was a foregone conclusion, the entire exercise had been designed to ensure that the turnout would be large enough to put the desperately-sought seal of legitimacy on his office. To this end, the government resorted to every possible gimmick in the book; from hobnobbing with corrupt and criminal political elements in the country and holding public meetings at state expense to placing the entire state machinery at the disposal of a few individuals in order to guarantee him a thumping majority. As if this were not enough, the voting age was reduced to 18 years for the referendum and then, in one cavalier stroke, the precondition of confirming voters’ eligibility through national identity cards and electoral lists was also waived. Last, but not least, hundreds and thousands of nazims and councillors were threatened with withdrawal of government support if they did not muster support for the referendum within their constituencies.
Employing logic remarkably similar to US President George Bush’s ‘you are either with us or with the terrorists’ rhetoric, General Musharraf launched his referendum campaign by drawing unambiguous battle lines between himself and his opponents. “We have to draw a clear line from today and see who is supporting our reforms and who is against our policies,” he announced at his first public meeting in Lahore to which, according to credible reports, thousands of public sector employees had been forcibly bussed. It is little wonder that the last one month, ever since preparations for the referendum got underway, has seen a certain disillusionment set in among the public. General Musharraf’s popularity on the domestic front had seen an exponential increase in the aftermath of the events of October 12, 1999, when, in his characteristically forthright manner, he pledged “to set the system right” and bring in “real democracy at the grass- roots level.” A majority of the population, the segment he termed the ’silent majority,’ again rallied around him post 9/11 when he chose to ally himself with the so-called international coalition against terror. The referendum, his latest move on the political chessboard, and the manner in which it has been handled has, however, forced many of his erstwhile supporters to reconsider their position.
Javed Chaudhry & Mushahidullah Khan Expose Imran Khan - 1 (Kal Tak 21 MAR 2011)
Under normal circumstances, candidates in elections bear the electioneering expenses themselves. It was argued that as the government in this case was itself holding the referendum, it should be responsible for the expenses incurred in the process. According to reports, the government spent at least 100 million rupees for over a dozen public meetings held by General Musharraf across the country. Sources in the federal ministry of finance stated that it had released a special grant of 25 million rupees for each province to be used for the printing and display of posters, banners, placards, hoardings, flags and other such paraphernalia during these rallies. And this excludes the expenses, again incurred by the federal government, which were involved in placing promotional ads in the national and vernacular press and in running the election campaign in the electronic media. Last year, the ECP had spent 1.2 billion rupees on the local bodies elections, which were held in three phases all over the country. “With a greatly increased number of polling stations and polling booths in the referendum, this exercise has been at least twice as expensive as the local bodies elections,” says an insider. According to him, the ECP had initially estimated the cost of holding the referendum at a little over two billion rupees, including the printing of 70 million plus ballot papers, election staff’s allowances, transportation of ballot papers, and setting up of polling stations and polling booths. “The government, however, had to spend a substantial amount more because it later decided to increase the number of polling stations and booths to make it convenient for people to vote in greater numbers,” said the same source. The allowances for election staff in the referendum had also been increased from the 200 rupees given in previous elections to 400 rupees each, plus another 200 rupees for meals.
Javed Chaudhry & Mushahidullah Khan Expose Imran Khan - 2 (Kal Tak 21 MAR 2011)URL: http://youtu.be/z9HuCNw__5U
Apart from the cash input, the government also initiated dialogue with every political party that assured it of its support. The task of holding parleys with various political parties was reportedly assigned to the country’s premier intelligence agencies. Says a source, “These agencies made contact not only with individuals who have political clout but also those in mainstream political parties who have corruption cases pending against them and who could thus be blackmailed into submission.” A case in point: a few weeks ahead of the referendum, a PTV team arrived in Sukkur and filmed the property of a local politician believed to have amassed billions of rupees through corruption during his party’s two terms in power. Shaken by this incident and fearing impending arrest, he was seen frantically discussing the matter with his party colleagues. His panic dissipated only after at least two nazims in Sindh, who were given tickets by the PPP on his recommendation, announced their support to Musharraf in the referendum, despite the party’s unequivocal decision to boycott the referendum. “In Punjab, more than in any other province in the country, there are many corrupt politicians who have not been charge-sheeted for their ill-gotten gains and they were sitting ducks for such tactics,” contends a source. However, in the run-up to the referendum, the secret service agencies and Musharraf did not always see eye to eye. For instance, they were, from very outset, opposed to the idea of holding any dialogue with the MQM (A). Despite their reservations, says a source, General Musharraf went ahead and entered into negotiations with the party. “The government’s main concern was that in the light of its antagonistic relations with both the PPP and the PML (N), it was all the more important to cut a deal with the MQM, the third largest party in the country with a proven track record of motivating the masses in Karachi,” says an insider. The MQM’s support for the referendum came at a heavy price; the government was obliged to release at least 100 hardcore party activists from jail. “With cases of a heinous nature pending against many of them, they could not simply be set free, so they were released on parole,” revealed a source.
Javed Chaudhry & Mushahidullah Khan Expose Imran Khan - 3 (Kal Tak 21 MAR 2011)
While the government had to acquiesce to the MQM’s demands in exchange for the party’s cooperation, it employed arm-twisting tactics against the nazims to ensure their fealty. This approach was hardly in keeping with the government’s claim to have achieved a milestone in ‘devolving power to the grass-roots level’ when the local councils were elected barely a year ago. With nazims still struggling to run the newly instituted local councils, their essential lack of power was clear for all to see when they were bluntly told that their political future depended upon their success in drumming up support for the referendum. The nazims and local councillors in all 306 districts in the country were directed by the provincial governments to use their own resources for the campaign. According to some reports, between 20,000 to 50,000 rupees were given to each of the union council nazims for campaigning on Musharraf’s behalf. “This has once again revived the old culture of loot and plunder of the public exchequer,” claimed a source. According to him, a protest rally was actually taken out by the nazims of some of the union councils in Hyderabad district in Sindh, complaining that the amount of 20,000 rupees given to them for election campaigning was not enough. The protesting nazims were demanding that they too be given 50,000 rupees each as had been put at the disposal of some of their counterparts or else they would be unable to bring their voters on polling day. “A constant refrain with the nazims from the inception of the union councils has been the dire shortage of funds to run even their day-to-day business, but no notice was taken of their complaints. For the first time, for the purposes of the referendum, they were showered with funds in advance to muster support for Musharraf,” he contends.
Sources disclosed that the chief executive’s secretariat in Islamabad sent directives to the governors of the four provinces asking them to report those nazims found to be stingy in their cooperation with local authorities in the referendum. According to these sources, the provincial governments have already recommended action against various recalcitrant district nazims all over the country. One such letter, No: 3GS/2002/3230, issued by the NWFP’s provincial home department on April 23, requests the federal government to initiate action against Azam Khan Afridi, a nazim of Peshawar district, for lack of cooperation during the referendum. Afridi, who belongs to the PPP, is reported as having proved himself to be anti-referendum by not extending unconditional political, financial and moral support to General Musharraf.
Similar recommendations have also been made against the nazim of Multan district, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, for his refusal to release funds worth six lakh rupees for Musharraf’s rally in Lahore. Reportedly, Multan’s district coordination officer had spent the amount from his own pocket for the rally, but when the summary was sent to Qureshi to compensate the coordination officer from official funds, he refused to oblige.
The fact is that the majority of nazims were left with essentially a Hobson’s choice. “The allocation of funds, the implementation of schemes, virtually everything pertaining to the local government, is in the hands of the provincial and federal governments, so the only realistic option they had was to support the referendum,” says a source.
Although the government had left no stone unturned to increase voter turnout on the day of the referendum, it remained, as expected, low and devoid of the enthusiasm usually found on an election day. Polling booths had been set up in every nook and corner of the country, including railway stations, airports, prisons, even hotel foyers, which offered free cookies and tea for those who came to cast their votes. “The entire machinery was geared towards attracting the greatest number of voters possible,” says an official.
Apparently, the decision not to announce a public holiday on April 30 was taken in order to compel the approximately five million public sector employees in the country to vote in the referendum. There were also instances in which employees were instructed by their superiors to vote in favour of President Musharraf or else face the consequences. Says a low-ranking employee of Karachi Port Trust, “When I went to cast my vote, one of our officers told me that the name and number on my identity card will be noted on the counterfoil of the ballot paper and that if I stamped ‘no’, my vote could easily be traced to me and I would be in trouble. Realising that one vote against him would not prevent General Musharraf from remaining president, I chose to stamp ‘yes’ and avoid creating problems for myself.”
Independent observers have reported a host of irregularities such as blatant multiple voting and the casting of votes by obviously ineligible individuals. According to an international news agency, at one such station in Karachi, a woman claimed to have cast her vote no less than 50 times, while one newspaper printed a photograph, whose authenticity, it must be said, could not be verified, of pre-pubescent schoolgirls merrily having a go at the ballot books and stamps. Many cast multiple votes simply for a lark and to see whether they could get away with it. Generally speaking however, those professing support for Musharraf were allowed to vote more than once, even if they possessed no identification papers. There were no electoral lists to complicate matters and at many of the polling booths, particularly at the fag end of the day, the personnel were not demanding identification. Wrote columnist Ayaz Amir in Dawn, “A young friend of mine proudly told me that in front of Municipal Library he had stamped 135 ballots as a mark of his love for General Musharraf. His mother, an active lady, had stamped another hundred, his sister, all of 14 years old, 150. Only fatigue rather than anything else had cut short their exertions.”
A presiding officer disclosed that although the total number of votes actually polled at his polling station in Karachi was 125, he, alongwith the other election staff, had increased it to 900 by closing time. “We had no problems until 6 p.m. Then in came the local SHO with three other police constables and asked us how many votes had been cast. When we told him the number, he simply told us that we were required to multiply the 90 by 10 and ensure that the ‘yes’ vote was around 98 per cent,” he said, adding that they were warned that unless the ballot boxes contained that many votes, they would not be accepted at the returning station. “We therefore had no choice, but to stamp the remaining votes ourselves.”
The office bearers of the Sindh Teachers Association had even more serious allegations of official high-handedness to report. According to them, in many cases where teaching staff was appointed at the polling booths, they were beaten up when they declined to violate basic electoral rules. In one such case, Professor Shahid Ahmed of Premier College in Karachi was badly roughed up by the SHO of Taimuria police station, M. Tahir, when he refused to comply with his demand to stuff the empty ballot boxes after stamping the ballot papers with the help of the rest of his staff. Subsequently, when he filed a written complaint against the concerned police official, he was threatened with dire consequences if he decided to pursue the case. Says Professor Siraj Ahmed Siddiqui, an office bearer of the Association, “There are so many cases that have been reported to us from all over the province in which the teaching staff has been insulted and manhandled for not ‘cooperating’ with the local administration.” The Association has asked the affected teachers to formally submit the complaints against the treatment meted out to them. “Once we receive the complaints we will not only make these facts public, but also call a strike in protest,” said Professor Siddiqui.
Despite the lack of data as to the exact number of eligible voters in the wake of the right of franchise being extended to everyone over the age of 18, the ECP claimed that the turnout was as high as 71 per cent. Independent observers, however, taking into account the irregularities in the course of the polling, estimate the figure at between 10 to 15 per cent. The opposition parties meanwhile, insist the turnout was no more than six per cent and have demanded that General Musharraf construe this as a verdict against him and step down from the presidency.
Analysts, meanwhile, cite various reasons for the low turnout in the referendum, the principal one being the boycott by the mainstream political parties – even the MQM withdrew its support to the referendum at the last minute – and the general public’s lack of interest in day-to-day governance as another. “Like every government in the past, the present regime tends to make tall claims, while the common man hardly benefits from any reforms,” says a senior journalist, who believes that as far as the masses are concerned, the problems of economics and law and order, far from improving, have continued to multiply manifold.
Farce or otherwise, the first phase of Musharraf’s legitimisation of his tenure is now over. And if this was a taste of things to come, analysts have already begun to question the credibility of the forthcoming general elections in October. Their apprehensions are based on the constitutional provision that requires Musharraf to seek the future parliament’s mandate for the confirmation of his tenure as president. This would only be possible if he ensures that the next general elections will return a malleable parliament that is prepared to play second fiddle. Given the manner in which the entire state machinery was harnessed to carry out the referendum exercise, the possibility that the new parliament will be elected through free and fair means seems remote. And in the words of one observer, “A tainted electoral process will only produce an unstable government, and we have seen what happens to unstable governments.” Resorting to such tactics will dash hopes for the country’s democratic future – the very fact that had, in the first place, compelled Musharraf to step in ‘reluctantly’ on October 12, 1999. REFERENCE: How the Referendum was Won By Massoud Ansari 15 MAY 2002 http://www.newslinemagazine.com/2002/05/how-the-referendum-was-won/
Javed Chaudhry & Mushahidullah Khan Expose Imran Khan - 4 (Kal Tak 21 MAR 2011)
On the morning of April 30, at a polling station in Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, when a smiling General Pervez Musharraf was casting a ‘yes’ vote for himself in the referendum, he did not seem to have been unduly bothered by the cost of the exercise. The 1973 Constitution is not only a statute book but it also provides for the cost-effective way of indirectly electing the president by a total number of 1021 national and provincial parliamentarians serving as an electoral college. So far the government and election commission have been reluctant to divulge the exact expenditure of the exercise. However, sources maintain that there is not much of a difference between the cost of a general election and that of the referendum. In the 1997 elections, the total cost was 1054,495,000 rupees (1.054 billion) and the target was 54 million registered voters. The cost in 1993 was 231,725,000 rupees (231 million rupees), enhanced by 83 million rupees. In 1997, the cost per voter was estimated at 20 rupees per voter. Now in 2002, given the high inflation rate, the cost has doubled. Another reason being cited for the high referendum cost is the government’s decision to lower the eligible voter age from 21 to 18. This has increased the number of eligible voters to 78.3 million. If we multiply this number with 1997’s per voter cost of 20 rupees, the total expense jumps up to around 1.5 billion rupees.
This cost did not sit well with the tax payers. Pakistan has a very low tax base. The number of total tax payers is around 700,000, which is less than 5 per cent of the total 78.3 million eligible voters. For years, the government has been struggling hard to increase the tax base but such uncalled-for expenses can only hinder the process of people voluntarily entering into the tax net. When they see the taxpayers’ money being put to non-productive use, this fortifies the tendency to resist every government move to increase revenues. Chief Election Commissioner Justice (Retd) Irshad Hasan Khan claims that the total expenditure incurred on the referendum is only around 500 million rupees. He added that a little over 60 million ballot papers had been printed for 60 million voters. But media reports suggest that the referendum cost could be over 2 billion rupees. This is over and above the cost of electing around 200,000 members of the district government that cost the tax payers around 1.7 billion rupees. If we calculate the cost to be incurred on the upcoming October elections to be around 2 billion, then the total cost of the restoration of democracy is going to be a whopping 5.7 billion rupees.
Addressing the nation on the eve of the referendum, General Musharraf did not the give exact cost but said: “There is lot of talk about the expenses being incurred on the holding of the referendum. Therefore, I thought it fit to touch upon it… The most important issue before the country now is the continuation of reforms, my own role and the establishment of stable democracy… I think, it is very important for me to seek the views of the people about this important issue, which in my view is the most essential part of the democratic process. Therefore, some expenses need to be incurred on holding the referendum.” He further said that over the last 20 days he had been to 23 places, covering every nook and corner of Pakistan, addressing public rallies and meetings. Media reports suggest that the cost of just the first two meetings was to the tune of 3.5 million rupees. Similarly, the cost of the General’s image-building has been enormous. The official press information department alone sought an additional 27.1 million rupees for the two-week publicity campaign running up to the referendum. This was spent on placing newspaper ads, and preparing special songs for PTV. Other government and semi-government departments were also asked to run publicity campaigns highlighting achievements during General Musharraf’s tenure. There was rampant use of radio and TV to project the official line. Although both have become corporations, they are still in government use. For a one hour prime time programme, PTV charges around 1.8 million rupees. However, the Musharraf campaign was run on all three TV channels. Another indirect cost relates to the hefty fee the government paid to four lawyers to defend the government in the petition against holding the referendum entered in the Supreme Court. According to the head of the government team, Sharifuddin Pirzada, the lawyers were paid 4 million rupees. All of this adds up to a staggering bill for a meaningless exercise. REFERENCE: Counting the Cost By Nadeem Iqbal 15 MAY 2002 http://www.newslinemagazine.com/2002/05/counting-the-cost/
Despite its hectic efforts, the government could not win over the major political parties in Balochistan. The only parties who hopped on to the Musharraf bandwagon were those whose leaders have been unable to secure even their own seats in the assemblies. The complete strike in the provincial capital, on the call of the opposition political parties on referendum day, really perturbed both provincial and federal governments. The strike belied the claims of parties allied with President Musharraf that the people would turn out in large numbers to vote for him. Almost all polling stations in the city precincts, except some in the cantonment and in areas with Persian-speaking Hazaras, wore a deserted look till the afternoon, while vehicular traffic remained thin. However, after the military and civil authorities swung into action, the Nazims were activated to bring in a few thousand voters from their respective areas in Quetta. The administration of the government departments was also directed to ensure the presence of employees for casting their votes.
The process of vote casting was made so easy that any document proving the identity of the voter was acceptable, and even certificates issued by Nazims of the areas, were considered good enough to fill the ballot boxes. In the evening, the polling staff in Quetta were seen allotting more ballots than one to individuals who wished to cast multiple votes. A group of journalists during their visit to one of the deserted polling stations set up in the T&T Colony girls’ school in the heart of the city, witnessed some 20 ballot papers torn off from the book, lying on the table before the polling staff in the absence of voters. When asked what the papers were doing there, the staff explained that they were waiting for the voters to come and the ballot papers had been torn off from the book in advance. One of them said, “ultimately all these ballots have to be dropped in the ballot boxes.” The complaints of bogus voting by the people of the King’s party were high at more than one polling station and the turnout much lower than expected. A Naib Nazim of Quetta said, “I waited for the voters to come till afternoon but the polling stations remained deserted. So I took my supporters with me and we took over the ballot books from the polling staff. I started stamping and tearing off the ballots and we did this in all seven polling stations of the area.” Another nazim, from the katchi abadis, told a reporter, “I have been given four books of a hundred ballot papers each, and by 6 p.m. we have completed three books. Inshaallah, within an hour all the books will be used.” Some government employees also proudly stated that they had cast four to five votes each, with the help of the polling staff.
With such irregularities in polling, the Election Commission eventually announced that General Musharraf had received over 2.5 million votes. Considering a scattered population of Balochistan is 6.5 million, the figure is an incredible one. The opposition, comprising some eight political parties including the PPP and PML(N) and three different alliances – ARD, PONAM and Mutahida Majlis Amal – failed to pull together a substantial gathering in the public meeting they arranged two days before the polling day. While they had been agitating against the referendum for a while, the opposition parties then gave a call for a general strike without being sure of the response they would get. Independent observers estimate numbers at the opposition’s public meeting at not more than a few thousand. The government is reported to have created hurdles in the way of arrangements for the meeting, arresting party leaders, watering the ground a couple of days before the meeting and stopping vehicles at entry points of the city. General Musharraf and Governor Justice (R) Amin-ul-Mulk Mengal expressed their displeasure over the performance of City Nazim Abdur Rahim Kakar who had assured the strike call would go unheeded and predicted a record turnout at the polling stations.
The government and its agencies were taken aback over the successful strike in Quetta and lack of enthusiasm shown by the people towards the referendum, specially since pre-referendum surveys had suggested a different scenario. The outcome was unexpected after the mammoth public meeting held by President Musharraf in Quetta, followed by a charged atmosphere in favour of the referendum and the announcement of support one after another by traders, some political parties and government employees associations. The government spent a huge amount from national resources, using all the resources of the administration, for the Musharraf public meeting and the referendum campaign. Three million rupees had been placed at the disposal of the District Coordination Officer for just the public meeting in Quetta, while over 20 million rupees were allocated for advertisements in the local press for the referendum campaign, besides earmarking millions of rupees for the polling day. As in other parts of the country, the announcement of General Pervez Musharraf granting some concessions for the common man, farmers, inhabitants of katchi abadis etc. in the shape of development activities in Balochistan had some positive impact.
Justice Mengal also embarked on a whirlwind tour of the province while Corps Commander, Lt. Gen. Abdul Qadir, being a local, had earned the goodwill of the local population by addressing development issues, and seeking the support of the tribal chieftains and elders. Provincial ministers also visited the interior of the province for the same purpose. The political parties supporting the referendum could only help the government in building its image in the media, but their practical support did not amount to much. The leaders of the Tehrik-e-Insaaf, Millat Party, Awami Tehrik, National Awami Party etc. maintained a presence in the press, but none of them were to be seen mobilising voters on the polling day. The Quaid-e-Azam group of the PML is the only party of the King’s camp that mattered to some extent as far as the referendum was concerned. The group comprises the old faces that used to be seen around General Zia, Junejo and Nawaz Sharif at their peak. Now they are seen in the Musharraf’s camp and will no doubt join his successor. The individuals dominating this group have their own vote bank and tribal influence, but have always been changing their loyalties with the wind. With the backing of the state machinery they stand a good chance of winning their seats in the elections.
Hassan Nisar Exposes Imran Khan
In Balochistan, unlike the other provinces, all the Nazims and Naib Nazims from the union council to district government level, barring a few, have been supporters of the policies of the present military government. Even those elected with the help of political parties or local influential personalities have deferred to the government. The Nazims of the Balochistan National Movement worked publicly in their districts for the success of General Pervez Musharraf in the referendum, although BNM head Dr. Abdul Hai Baloch had strongly opposed the referendum from the PONAM platform. The BNM swept the local bodies elections in Makran division and Awaran district and succeeded in bringing in three district Nazims and one Naib Nazim. The Balochistan National Party (Bizenjo group) dominated by those elements who are keen to jump onto the bandwagon, recently disassociated itself from the opposition parties in an attempt to win concessions from the government for two former ministers Syed Ehsan Shah and Asad Baloch who were facing NAB corruption charges. Mir Yaqub Bizenjo, alias Imam Bheel, a drug baron of Makran, who has been a traditional ally of the BNP, also vowed to work for the success of General Musharraf through front-page advertisement in the newspapers.
Instead of garnering support, the rallying of corrupt elements around him is causing great damage to General Musharraf. A number of such people who had fled abroad or gone underground to avoid their arrest and interrogation in corruption charges have now surfaced, apparently after deals have been struck. Some have been released following plea bargaining. Mir Jan Mohammad Jamali, a former Chief Minister of Balochistan is one of them. He escaped to Dubai when investigations started against him for misusing 140 million rupees from his secret fund and other alleged financial scams. Coming back to the country a few months ago, he joined the PML-Q and is now one of the pillars of Musharraf’s supporting team in the province.
On the other hand, the government is deprived of the support of the political parties having both street power and a substantial vote bank. They included the Balochistan National Party (Mengal), Pushtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party, Jamhoori Watan Party, Jamiat Ulema Islam and Jamaat-e- Islami Pakistan. However, parties like the Balochistan National Movement apparently opposed the referendum in the press, but extended their tacit support to the government. Pushtoonkhwa was the only party that embarked on a mass awareness campaign against the referendum, holding corner meetings despite the ban on political activities. Other political parties confined their opposition to the press, besides holding some public meetings in the interior of the province. While the administration assisted political activities in favour of the referendum, its opponents were denied the same right. The lawyers’ community in Balochistan was the only segment of society that staged rallies and marched on main roads and through bazaars against the referendum. In retaliation, the government lodged treason cases against them and arrested their leaders, including Ali Ahmad Kurd, President of the Balochistan Bar Association.
These arrests sent a wave of anger among the community who announced they would continue their protest till the withdrawal of these cases and the release of their leaders. The police went a step further by arresting 70 more lawyers after the protest. The lawyers fought back by courting arrest and resorting to a token hunger strike. Ultimately, sanity prevailed on the part of the government. Cases were withdrawn and all the arrested lawyers set free. The government directed the 1400 councillors of Quetta to get people to participate in General Musharraf’s public meeting, also directing government employees to be present at the meeting. But while there was a show of numbers in the meeting, the resources of the administration could not deliver the desired results on the day of the referendum. The referendum also cost the government one of the well-reputed and competent judges of the superior courts. Justice Tariq Mahmood, a judge of the Balochistan High Court, quit when as a member of the election commission of Pakistan from Balochistan, he refused to be a part of the referendum process, terming the referendum unconstitutional. The ECP, in an apparent attempt to cover up his resignation, issued a press release saying Justice Mahmood had been withdrawn on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of Balochistan. REFERENCE: Constructing Consent By Shahzada Zulfiqar 15 MAY 2002 http://www.newslinemagazine.com/2002/05/constructing-consent/