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Beena Sarwar: Reporting from Pakistan on rout of Musharraf’s party

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ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: Pakistan’s ruling party, the PML-Q, conceded defeat today as opposition parties claimed a victory over President Pervez Musharraf’s party in parliamentary elections. With results still coming in, returns indicate that the party of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the PPP, and Nawaz Sharif’s party, the PML-N, have so far won a combined number of 149 seats, over half of the 272-seat National Assembly.


February 19, 2008

ASIF ALI ZARDARI, LEADER, PAKISTAN PEOPLE’S PARTY: Pakistan Peoples Party declares victory in all of Pakistan. We have won these elections in a majority and have emerged as a federal party.

NAWAZ SHARIF, LEADER, PAKISTAN MUSLIM LEAGUE – NAWAZ (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): People have given their decision, this is what President Musharraf was having problems understanding, he had shut his eyes, he had shut his eyes and kept saying ‘when the people want me to go I will.’ Today the public have made it clear what they want.


To give us an update on the situation, we go to Beena Sharwar in Karachi. So, Beena, what are the official results, and what is the state of the situation like in Pakistan?

BEENA SARWAR, JOURNALIST: The election commission has not officially announced any results, but the results that we have so far show the Pakistan Peoples Party of Benazir Bhutto bagging the most seats in the National Assembly, followed very closely by Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Group), which is the PML-N. And since the two have an electoral alliance, then it’s safe to assume they will form a coalition together. And the King’s Party, as it was called, the Pakistan Muslim League Quaid, the PML-Q, has received far fewer seats than its leadership had expected. And also the Awami National Party, which is a secular nationalist party, primarily with a stronghold in the Northwest Frontier Province, in the very troubled area which is plagued by militancy and Taliban and all the rest of that, have also made a very good showing in the national assembly elections. And the religious parties stand nowhere. What’s happened is that the religious parties, so-called religious parties and the parties that have been basically following the politics of hatred and militancy have been pretty much routed, and it’s the parties who have a more national character and who are largely secular in nature, they are the parties that have made the best showings at the polls.


CHAUDHRY SHUJAAT HUSSAIN, CHAIRMAN, PAKISTAN MUSLIM LEAGUE – QUAID: We are and we will gracefully accept the results declared by the Election Commission.


NKWETA: Now, has the PML-Q conceded defeat?

SARWAR: The Pakistan Muslim League (Q) Punjab president, who was also the chief minister of the Punjab in the previous government, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has come on television talking to a journalist at GEO TV, and he conceded defeat. He said that, “My party has lost.” But he said, “But I haven’t lost all my seats. I’ve won one of the three National Assembly seats I was contesting from.” And his cousin Shujaat Hussain has won one provincial seat, I believe. So they’re still there. And also he said something very interesting. He said that, you know, the results aren’t all out yet. We’ve still got some seats to go. And sure enough, the results of the seats coming in from the morning onwards, in those results the PML-Q has made a much better showing.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Beena Sarwar is a journalist in Pakistan, former Editor 'The News on Sunday' and Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. She is currently based in Karachi.