Archive for the ‘Pakistan People’s Party’ Category

Pakistan to Talk With Militants, New Leaders Say

March 22, 2008
March 22, 2008
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Faced with a sharp escalation of suicide bombings in urban areas, the leaders of Pakistan’s new coalition government say they will negotiate with the militants believed to be orchestrating the attacks, and will use military force only as a last resort.That talk has alarmed American officials, who fear it reflects a softening stance toward the militants just as President Pervez Musharraf has given the Bush administration a freer hand to strike at militants using pilotless Predator drones.

Many Pakistanis, however, are convinced that the surge in suicide bombings — 17 in the first 10 weeks of 2008 — is retaliation for three Predator strikes since the beginning of the year. The spike in attacks, combined with the crushing defeat of Mr. Musharraf’s party in February parliamentary elections, has brought demands for change in his American-backed policies.

Speaking in separate interviews, the leaders of Pakistan’s new government coalition — Asif Ali Zardari of the Pakistan Peoples Party and Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-N — tried to strike a more independent stance from Washington and repackage the conflict in a more palatable way for Pakistanis.

They said they were determined to set a different course from that of President Musharraf, who has received generous military financial help of more than $10 billion from Washington for his support.

“We are dealing with our own people,” said Mr. Sharif, who was twice prime minister in the 1990s. “We will deal with them very sensibly. And when you have a problem in your own family, you don’t kill your own family. You sit and talk. After all, Britain also got the solution of the problem of Ireland. So what’s the harm in conducting negotiations?”

Mr. Zardari said: “Obviously what they have been doing for the last eight years has not been working. Even a fool knows that.”

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Pakistan: New PM To Be Named Tonight

March 22, 2008

By Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas, Pakistan
March 22, 2008

Political games being played in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan have entered a decisive phase. According to a report, the husband of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, who was gunned by terrorists before the elections, Asif Ali Zardari has chosen a person from Pubjab province to become the prime minister.
There are also reports of serious differences that have erupted in Pakistan People’s Party as most of the members of National Assembly think that Amir Fahim, president of Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians is the right person to lead Pakistan at this critical time.
Reports said that Pakistan Peoples Party would likely to nominate Yousuf Raza Gillani as the new prime minister of the country, sources said.
According to Geo News, PPP has completed consultations with coalition partners about the prime minister and the allies have endorsed the nomination.
The formal announcement of the name of prime minister is expected tonight. Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would announce the name.

Commentary: Momentous day for Pakistan, Bhutto’s legacy

March 18, 2008
By Asif Ali Zardari

Asif Ali Zardari is the co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party and widower of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in Pakistan in December.

In this handout photo released by Pakistan Parliament House, ...
In this handout photo released by Pakistan Parliament House, Asif Ali Zardari, left, widower of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and co-chairman of Pakistan People’s Party waves as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif looks on during the National assembly’s first session at Parliament House in Islamabad, Pakistan on Monday, March 17, 2008. Pakistan inaugurated a new parliament on Monday dominated by opponents of President Pervez Musharraf who have vowed to crimp his powers and review his U.S.-backed policies against al-Qaida and the Taliban.
(AP Photo/Pakistan Parliament House, HO)

(CNN) — Monday was a momentous day for the people of Pakistan, but a bittersweet day for me.

Sitting in the gallery watching a democratically elected National Assembly headed by the Pakistan Peoples Party and its coalition partners, I thought of the terrible price paid for this moment of liberty. I thought of the many jailed, beaten, tortured, and exiled. I thought of all of those who had their reputations assaulted. I thought of the undermining and dismantling of Pakistani civil society. I thought of the attacks on the independence and autonomy of the judicial system. I thought of the censorship of the press, emergency rule and martial law.

But of course more than anything else, I thought of my beloved wife, Shaheed Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto, who sacrificed her life for her beliefs and her country. This was the day of her triumph, the vindication of her long battle for the restoration of democracy. For my country, this was a day of celebration. But for me and our children, this day was also a day of tears. Democracy had come to Pakistan, but at a terrible, terrible price.

Last week, the two largest political parties in Pakistan agreed to form a coalition government that would restore democracy and bring stability to our country. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which I lead after the assassination of my wife, has joined the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, to form a broad-based, democratic, liberal government in Pakistan — an umbrella of reconciliation and consensus. The new prime minister, from the PPP, will be announced within the next few days.

In agreeing to form a coalition government Mr. Sharif and I have responded to the mandate given by the people of Pakistan in the February 18 election. Pakistan’s people no longer want to live under the thumb of a dictator. They want an end to terrorism and violence and wish to join the rest of the modern world in the pursuit of peace and prosperity. They want to restore the supremacy of the people’s house, the National Assembly, and free it from the sword of Damocles of a marginal presidency with inflated, unconstitutional authority.

Pakistan’s political leaders and people have suffered from the politics of personal destruction; we have been battered by dictatorship; we have seen civil society taken apart and a free and independent judiciary destroyed. We have seen international assistance, secured in the name of fighting terrorism, diverted towards making Pakistan’s affluent few richer. We have seen progress on education, health and women’s rights stopped and reversed. But now, with renewed confidence in democratic parties like the PPP and PML-N, it is time for the rebirth of a democratic, vital and progressive Pakistan.

Some fear a coalition government would lack the necessary strength to tackle Pakistan’s myriad problems. But cooperation between the country’s biggest political parties, representing an overwhelming majority of the people, would bring greater stability than one-man rule. Together, the PPP and PML-N will be able to build a strong civil society. That would go a long way to erasing the scars of militarism and militancy. We will focus on providing education and employment at the grassroots levels so the country’s youth can play an integral role in building a strong national economy.

Under the rule of Pervez Musharraf, extremists were allowed to thrive along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The key to improving security there is not to make citizens in Pakistan’s tribal areas feel like second-rate citizens kept under lock and key, caught between the threats of violence from militants and the military. Rather, we must let all of our citizens, including those in the Federally Administered Tribal Area, know they are part participants in the growth of Pakistan’s economy and civil society.

Fostering a better level of trust and understanding among the people in the border areas, and delivering on their key needs, is essential to enhancing security in the FATA and throughout Pakistan. While immediate steps must be taken to hunt down identified terrorists, the long-term solution to extremism lies in respecting the will of the people and in providing them with a means of livelihood at every level — food, clothing, shelter, jobs and education. By talking to and respecting our people, we will be able to isolate the extremists and terrorists.

Those of us who are now in a position of leadership seek, in my wife’s words, “a tomorrow better than any of the yesterdays we have ever known.” We see a Pakistan where all children, regardless of their socio-economic standing or their gender, are guaranteed compulsory and quality primary and secondary education. We see a Pakistani educational system of quality teachers, who receive decent salaries, and teach in modern classrooms with state-of-the-art computers and technology. We see a Pakistan where political madrassas that teach hatred are closed, and educational institutions that focus on science and technology flourish.

The PPP has a vision to build a nation that is one of the great capital markets of the world; a revitalized nation that will generate international investment. We look forward to the complete electrification of all of our villages, the purification of our nation’s drinking water, the privatization of the public sector, the expansion of the energy sector, the development of our export industries, the modernization of our ports and the rebuilding our national infrastructure. All of these elements are essential to a Pakistan where a democratically elected government, with the mandate of the people, confronts and marginalizes the forces of extremism and terrorism wherever they may exist in our nation. In other words, I see the Pakistan for which my wife lived and died.

Pakistan’s democracy has not evolved over the past 60 years because the generals believed they should intervene in politics and run the country. The army’s misperception of itself as the country’s only viable institution, and its deep-rooted suspicion of the civilian political process, has prevented democracy from flourishing. The PPP and its allies will reverse the current regime’s suppression of civil society and free speech. We will establish a Press Complaints Commission similar to that of the United Kingdom and stand up for the democratic rights of citizens to freely establish television and radio stations, subject to the basic legal framework.

While the tasks ahead are not easy, the Pakistan Peoples Party plans to work in good faith with its fellow democratic parties and our coalition allies to achieve our goal of building a new, progressive Pakistan. Everything will not come at once. The reformation of Pakistan — politically, economically and socially — will be a long and complex process. But we are determined to begin and we are determined to succeed.

We did not come this far, we did not sacrifice this much, to fail.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

Pakistan: Bhutto party says PM candidate to be named next week

March 15, 2008

By MUNIR AHMED,Associated Press Writer AP –
Sunday, March 16

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – After winning Pakistan’s parliamentary elections last month, the party of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto will name a new prime minister next week, a spokesman said Saturday.

Followers of Bhutto, a two-time prime minister who returned to Pakistan last year only to die in a December suicide attack, won the largest number of seats in Feb. 18 polls _ ousting allies of U.S.-backed President Pervez Musharraf and easing Pakistan back toward democracy after years of military rule.

Her Pakistan People’s Party has pledged to form a coalition government with the party of another former premier, Nawaz Sharif, after the new parliament convenes Monday.

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Pakistan: Post-Election Assessment from Muhammad

February 19, 2008

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom,
Dear Sir

I hope you and your team at the Peace and Freedom will be alright. Situation in Pakistan as usual is still critical.

There will be no denying the fact that President Pervez Musharraf has fulfilled the promise made with the international community about holding fair and free election.

The media has been creating the impression that Musharraf has lost the election, but according to majority of tribesmen he has won as by holding election he defeated terrorists.

Terrorists have tried their best to halt the elections, but they failed in their bid.

Now according to reports, in the backdrop of the election results thus far, no party could obtain clear majority and the alliance governments in centre and three provinces seem imminent, while the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has attained the position of forming its own government.

Unofficial and provisional results showed that PPP has achieved the edge by obtaining maximum number of national assembly seats totaling thus far 88. Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) with 65 seats occupies coveted position, while the former ruling party Muslim League-Q could not obtain clear majority and it has bagged 37 seats.

Among other major parties of the national assembly, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) secured 19 seats, Awami National Party 10, Muslim League (Functional) 4, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) 3, independent candidates and other political parties 27 seats.

Among the provincial assemblies, PML-N has emerged as the largest party in Punjab assembly by securing 102 seats, PPP 78 and PML-Q got 66 seats. PPP has emerged as the largest party in the Sindh assembly and it has secured 68 seats, while MQM got 38, PML-Q 9 and PML (Functional) 7 seats. ANP in NWFP came to the fore as largest party bagging 31 seats, while PPP17 and independent candidates obtained 10 seats in the House here. Previously, MMA government was ruling here, but this time MMA got 9 seats only. PLM-Q that lagged behind all across the country, clinched 17 seats in Balochistan assembly, while PPP 7 and 8 independents reserved their seats in the House.

It is interesting to note that Muslim League-N leader Nawaz Sharif Tuesday called President Musharraf to step down from office.

He said the decision about eligibility of President Musharraf should be taken from the same court that was hearing the case.

Addressing press briefing in Lahore Nawaz said the freedom of judiciary and democracy are the foremost targets of his agenda. He said he was talking with all parties for formation of the government.

The PML-N leader said after restoration of the judiciary it would be decided whether Musharraf’s election as president is legal or not.

He said the judiciary could not regain its freedom without restoration of the deposed judges. He also demanded release of all detained lawyers.

He said the matter of Dr. Abdul Qadeer would also be reconsidered. Nawaz said he would meet the Co-chairman f Pakistan Peoples Party Asif Ali Zardari in a day or two to discuss all concerned matters. He said he was in contact with ANP’s Asfandyar Wali to discuss all options for the formation of the coalition government.

Sharif also his party would lead a coalition government in Punjab and all parties will be consulted on the matter.

He said the PCO of Nov 3, 2007 has to be nullified and the judges will have to be reinstated. On question of the president, he said the restored judiciary can abjudicate over legality of president’s election.

He said he expects the army to abide by the constitution and law.

Nawaz said he is committed to upholding his agenda of upholding democracy, rule of law, sovereignty, independence of judiciary. Lauding media role and its struggle against efforts to gag it.

Responding to questions, Nawaz said PML N is ready to work alongside any political force for stability of Pakistan. All democratic forces must unite on one platform, he said.

Nawaz invited all political parties who have won elections to sit down and struggle against dictatorship. He hinted at taking in the PML Q leaders who want to join their “mother party.”
President Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday dismissed calls by head of PML-N, Mian Nawaz Sharif in which he urged Musharraf to step down.

Presidential spokesman Maj-Gen Retd. Rashid Qureshi told media that Musharraf had already been elected President for five years term. Rashid Qureshi said President was ready to work with the party winning the elections. He said whatever steps that would be taken by the President, would be in the wider interests of Pakistan.

Dear Sir, I want to bring in your kind notice that Pakistan is still needing Pervez Musharraf as the country is still at war with terrorists. Elimination of terrorism in Pakistan is a must for peace in the world.

Again thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,
Tribal Areas Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto: ‘Loss of a very great lady’

January 1, 2008

By Harlan Ullman
The Washington Times
January 1, 2008

Shortly before 8 a.m. Dec. 27, while driving from Washington to Norfolk, my cell phone rang. It was a very senior Pakistani official and trusted friend. “Something has happened to Benazir. We are not sure what.” The “what” quickly became tragedy.

Supporters of slain Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto ...
Supporters of slain Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto light candles in Lahore December 31, 2007. Pakistani electoral officials will decide on Tuesday whether to go ahead with a Jan. 8 poll, with expectations it will be delayed by up to two months after Benazir Bhutto’s killing. Picture taken December 31, 2007. (Mohsin Raza/Reuters)

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto had been assassinated. Unwittingly, she had written her own, incomplete epitaph years before. The second sentence of the new edition of her autobiography “Daughter of the East” reads: “Born in Pakistan, my life mirrors its turbulence, its tragedies and its triumphs.” Sadly, she would not live to achieve many of those triumphs. And her life and character reflected the complexities and contradictions of Pakistan.

Born into privilege, she remained a servant of the people. A child of the East, she was educated in the West first at Radcliffe, where I recall we met, and then at Oxford, where she became president of the prestigious Oxford Student Union. The surviving member of a political dynasty, she expressly advised her three teenage children to steer clear of politics. Then she bequeathed the chairmanship of her party to her 19-year-old son, Bilawal, a student at Oxford, as an insurance policy if the worst were to happen.

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Bhutto party to decide whether to be in election

December 30, 2007

Associated Press
December 30, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The opposition Pakistan People’s Party is set to hold a critical meeting Sunday in the wake of leader Benazir Bhutto’s assassination to decide whether to still take part in parliamentary elections due Jan. 8.

The People’s Party meeting, which will also hear a reading of Bhutto’s last will and testament, comes amid growing controversy surrounding her death.

The government Saturday rejected foreign help in investigating Bhutto’s assassination. The Islamic militant group blamed by officials for the attack that killed Bhutto denied any links to the killing, and Bhutto’s aides accused the government of a cover-up.

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Key Leaders Silent in Pakistan

November 6, 2007

By Shahan Mufti – and Mark Sappenfield 

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN; and NEW DELHI – Two days after President Pervez Musharraf suspended Pakistan‘s stuttering transition to democracy by declaring a state of emergency and dismissing most of its Supreme Court, a familiar pattern has set in.

Lawyers who took to the streets were beaten and arrested by the hundreds. Meanwhile, the country’s fractured political establishment waits to see what will happen next. It is a similar dynamic to the one that emerged eight months ago, when Mr. Musharraf sought to sack an independent-minded Supreme Court chief justice for his willingness to defy the government.

Then, as now, the organized political opposition has responded with caution and indecision. Yet if opposition leaders such as former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto were to turn the power of their parties to supporting the lawyers, the result could be transformative, experts agree – creating a popular movement that might persuade the Army to depose Musharraf – fearing that he could no longer govern.

But politics in Pakistan has always been personal and sometimes deadly. The threat of jail or even assassination – combined with political leaders’ mutual animosities built up over decades of bitter power struggles – has often led to little action.

One leader in Ms. Bhutto’s party, Syeda Abida Hussein, says she does not expect Bhutto to act for a week as Bhutto waits for the effects of Musharraf’s move to become clearer. “I would not want her to do anything too quickly,” she says.

On Monday, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said that parliamentary elections would be conducted as scheduled before Jan. 15. But virtually the only major political leader who so far remains outside prison is Bhutto.

Bhutto’s delicate balancing act

Publicly, she has excoriated Musharraf, characterizing his state of emergency as martial law and claiming that his dictatorial tendencies are only fueling extremism. But privately, the waltz between Musharraf and Bhutto continues – and Bhutto is still considering her options, Ms. Hussein says.

For both, the lure of a union remains – giving Bhutto an avenue to power and Musharraf a means of salvaging some popular legitimacy. The new chief justice is favored by Bhutto, and the Army general who would replace Musharraf if he were ever to drop his position as Army chief, which he holds along with the presidency, is a close ally.

“[Musharraf] is making a flat-out effort to create the conditions to make her come to his rescue,” says Hussein. Indeed, virtually the only major political leader who escaped the purge is Bhutto. Hussein says she is being told by Musharraf’s agents not to move or cause a stir.

But other Pakistani political leaders have already leveled damaging charges against Bhutto, claiming that she is colluding with Musharraf.

For the middle class, which had been increasingly influencing the nation’s political conversation before the emergency order blacked out all independent media, this is a crucial moment for Bhutto.

“This is Benazir’s moment to shine,” says Asha Amirali, a political activist with the People’s Rights Movement of Pakistan, an Islamabad-based social justice advocacy group. “But if she decides to support Musharraf,” she will be discredited.

Whether it would influence the legions of less-educated rural voters who make up the backbone of her support and back her with almost feudal devotion is a key question. Bhutto’s father, one of Pakistan’s most revered historical figures, was executed by a military dictator.

Entering into an allegiance with the head of the military could significantly damage Bhutto’s credibility, even among her loyal supporters.

Should Bhutto take it to the streets?

What is more certain is that Bhutto and all of Pakistan’s political leaders could have a substantial impact if they threw their weight behind the lawyers and took their case to the streets, experts say.

Since March, the lawyers’ community has become the nucleus of the larger movement against Musharraf. Through their efforts, Pakistan’s judiciary was able to become more active and defiant. Musharraf said this activism was a major reason for the emergency order.

The high court was set to rule this week in a case questioning the legality of Musharraf being both president and Army chief.

Even amid baton-wielding police, lawyers contended that “we still have a legal case,” says Akram Shiekh, a lawyer who had filed a case against Musharraf’s eligibility.

“But personally I have serious doubts that the lawyers’ community will now look to a legal recourse.”

Instead, many have vowed to stay in the streets and boycott all legal proceedings, hoping to bring the country to a standstill. For all intents and purposes, Mr. Sheikh says, “there is no Supreme Court” now.

Some of Pakistan’s political parties agree. But their leaders have been arrested. “Our leader Qazi Hussain Ahmad, is under house arrest now, we will join the street movement of the lawyers everywhere,” says Shahid Shamsi, secretary of information for Jamaat-e-Islami, one of Pakistan’s largest opposition Islamic parties.

“We feel the opposition needs to unite now, and we would like to work with all parties – the Pakistan People’s Party as well – in this struggle,” he says, referring to Bhutto’s political party.

Pakistan’s Bhutto: Investigator Replaced Amid Death Threat

October 23, 2007

KARACHI (AFP & Katmandu Online) – The police officer heading the investigation team probing the devastating suicide blasts that targeted former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto is expected to be replaced, officials said.

The move is being considering after Bhutto said she had no confidence in the current chief, senior police officer Manzoor Mughal, whom she accuses of involvement in the torture of her husband.

A new police officer today took over the probe into the deadly suicide attack on former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto’s motorcade here after she alleged that the previous officer was involved in torturing her husband in 1999.

Deputy Inspector General Saud Mirza took over as the head of the special police team investigating the bomb blasts that killed nearly 140 people and injured hundreds others.

The Interior Ministry had yesterday said that DIG (Investigation) Manzoor Mughal, who was earlier heading the probe, would be replaced due to objections raised by Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party.

Bhutto had alleged that Mughal was present when her husband Asif Ali Zardari was tortured while in police custody in 1999 and was saved only due to the intervention of the judiciary and top diplomats.

While the Interior Ministry maintained that Mughal had gone on leave, officials in Karachi said the provincial government had no doubts about his professionalism but had decided to replace him so that there would be no accusations of impartiality regarding the investigation.

Sindh Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim has said the entire police team probing the blasts would be replaced in the interest of impartiality.

Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto prays with Jamiat ... 

Bhutto Has Death Threat

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto said Tuesday she had received a new death threat but will start campaigning in Pakistani cities in the next couple days, avoiding mass rallies.

Five days after the suicide bombing that killed at least 136 at her homecoming procession in Karachi, Bhutto said her lawyer received a letter from an unidentified “friend of al-Qaida” threatening to slaughter her “like a goat.”

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Pakistan: Tribal Areas Worry New Violence

October 20, 2007

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

I hope that you and your team at the Peace and Freedom will be alright. Suicide attack on the procession of Pakistan People’s Party Chairperson Benazir Bhutto has increased the fear of the people as there is an impression that a full-scale army action will be taken against the terrorists. There are imprehension among the tribesmen, the government forces like the past will only target the innocent people instead nabbing or killing the terrorists.

Now one thing has become clear that some officials within the government has been providing support to the Taliban and terrorists. Actually they want to establish Taliban government in the areas as they were the paid army of the country.

It is interesting that prominent warlord of Waziristan Baitullah Masood denied any role in the attack.

In a statement issued to some journalists, Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud denied any involvement in attacks on Benazir Bhutto that killed 133 people. “I had nothing to do with it,” Baitullah Mehsud told a news agency by satellite phone from an undisclosed location about the attack on Bhutto’s motorcade as it edged through hundreds of thousands of supporters gathered to welcome her from years of exile. Mehsud, who operates in Waziristan, a tribal region on the border with Afghanistan that has become a centre of Al Qaeda and Taliban activity, had been widely reported as issuing threats against Bhutto after she announced plans to return to Pakistan after eight years of self-imposed exile. His fighters are currently holding more than 200 Pakistani soldiers hostage, having captured them in late August.

Dear Sir, we have been facing great threats both from the terrorists and government forces. At this critical hour we need your prayers and good wishes. There will be no denying the fact that you have done a lot for the tribesmen and they will never forget your help.

Again thank you very much.
Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,
Tribal Areas Pakistan