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PIPS Dialogue on Elections 2008

The country may get into a critical situation if the elections are rigged, warned Dr. Sohail Mahmood – Professor and former Head of the Department of Politics & International Relations, International Islamic University, Islamabad – while addressing a dialogue held on Elections 2008 by Pak Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS) on 8th February.

He made a plea to all of the stake-holders to take steps for ensuring a free, fair and transparent polling arguing democratic process will come to a stand-still if the general elections are not held freely and fairly.

The Professor briefed the audience on the dynamics of impending elections with a focus on the reasons of expected lower turnout. It is expected to be lower because of the fear of violence and terrorism. Rumors of rigging may also discourage voters to go to the poling stations.

He termed the 1970 general elections as the fairest and the most transparent in Pakistan’s entire history whereas the following ones as rigged.

“We can only hope that the coming elections will be fair and transparent and acceptable to all of the stake-holders. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is expected to gain the maximum aggregate votes. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is expected to win in the big cities, and, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Karachi and Hyderabad. Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) may get majority in North Western Frontier Province (NWFP). Pakistan Muslim League-Q will not also get considerable votes”, he argued.

He reiterated that a number of factors like crises of gas, electricity and flour have contributed towards increasingly plummeting support for President Musharraf. Issues of Lal Masjid, Waziristan and Swat have also brought unpopularity for the Musharraf government.

Dr. Sohail Mahmood appreciated the steps taken by the Army Chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, in order to call the military officials back from public offices. A question and answer session was also held in the second session of the dialogue. At the end director PIPS paid the vote of thanks to the guests on behalf of whole of the PIPS team.