Pakistan lawyers call for election boycott

January 3, 2008

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Story Transcript

Lahore, Pakistan

SHAMIN UR RAHMAN MALIK, SECRETARY OF LAHORE BAR ASSOCIATION: We have already announced the boycott of elections, because these elections in presence of this judiciary and in presence of President Musharraf over there, we don’t expect, and it is essential, that these elections cannot be fair and free.

CROWD: Murderer, murderer, Musharraf, murderer.

SAMINA AHMED, ANALYST, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: Why we think a postponement was desirable. The other preconditions still don’t exist. This would not be a free and fair contest, unless Musharraf leaves the scene, unless there are neutral caretaker governments that oversee the process, unless the election commission, which is perceived as partisan—and with good reason—is not reconstituted, and the judiciary doesn’t regain its independence. How can you have a credible election?

CROWD: [slogan shouting]

I would say that we’ve already seen half the country up in flames, and this was before Bhutto’s murder. After Bhutto’s murder, we’ve seen the extent of public anger. Think about it. Is this sustainable? No, it’s not. You can either have a peaceful and orderly transition to democratic rule, or you will have a transition all the same, but it’ll be bloody and chaotic.


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