Thursday, February 14, 2008

RUBIN: Human Rights Watch -- Audio Recording Shows Pakistan AG Discussing Election "Massive Rigging"

This just in from Human Rights Watch:

Pakistan: Attorney General Aware of ‘Massive’ Election-Rigging Plans

Audio Recording Calls Into Question Government’s Commitment to Fair Elections

(New York, February 15, 2008) – In an audio recording obtained by Human Rights Watch (http://hrw.org/audio/2008/urdu/pakistan0208.htm), Pakistan’s Attorney General Malik Qayyum stated that upcoming parliamentary elections will be “massively rigged,” Human Rights Watch said today.

In the recording, Qayyum appears to be advising an unidentified person on what political party the person should approach to become a candidate in the upcoming parliamentary election, now scheduled for February 18, 2008.

Human Rights Watch said that the recording was made during a phone interview with a member of the media on November 21, 2007. Qayyum, while still on the phone interview, took a call on another telephone and his side of that conversation was recorded. The recording was made the day after Pakistan’s Election Commission announced the schedule for polls. The election was originally planned for January 8 but was postponed after the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, returned to Pakistan on November 25. An English translation of the recording, which is in Urdu and Punjabi, follows:

“Leave Nawaz Sharif (PAUSE).... I think Nawaz Sharif will not take part in the election (PAUSE).... If he does take part, he will be in trouble. If Benazir takes part she too will be in trouble (PAUSE).... They will massively rig to get their own people to win. If you can get a ticket from these guys, take it (PAUSE).... If Nawaz Sharif does not return himself, then Nawaz Sharif has some advantage. If he comes himself, even if after the elections rather than before (PAUSE)…. Yes….”

Repeated attempts by Human Rights Watch to contact Qayyum by phone were unsuccessful.

Fears of rigging have been a major issue in the current election campaign. Human Rights Watch said that since the official election period commenced in November 2007, there have been numerous allegations of irregularities, including arrests and harassment of opposition candidates and party members. There are also allegations that state resources, administration and state machinery are being used to the advantage of candidates backed by President Pervez Musharraf. Human Rights Watch expressed concern that the Election Commission, which is monitoring the polls, was not acting impartially (http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/02/11/pakist18034.htm).

Background

Malik Qayyum is a former judge who resigned from the bench in 2001 amid charges of misconduct. On April 15, 1999, a two-judge panel of the Lahore High Court headed by Qayyum convicted Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari in a corruption case. They were sentenced to five years in prison, fined US$8.6 million dollars each, disqualified as members of parliament for five years, and forced to forfeit their property. The impending verdict led Bhutto to go into exile in March 1999.

In February 2001, the Sunday Times, a British newspaper, published a report based on transcripts of 32 audio tapes, which revealed that Qayyum convicted Bhutto and Zardari for political reasons. The transcripts of the recordings reproduced by the newspaper showed that Qayyum asked then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s anti-corruption chief, Saifur Rehman, for advice on the sentence: “Now you tell me how much punishment do you want me to give her?”

In April 2001, on the basis of this evidence, a seven-member bench of Pakistan’s Supreme Court upheld an appeal by the couple, overturning the conviction. In its ruling, the Supreme Court contended that Qayyum had been politically motivated in handing down the sentence. Faced with a trial for professional misconduct before Pakistan’s Supreme Judicial Council, the constitutional body authorized to impeach senior judges, Qayyum opted to resign his post in June 2001.

A close associate of Musharraf, Qayyum was appointed as the lead counsel on behalf of Pakistan’s federal government in the presidential reference against Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, instituted after Chaudhry was first illegally deposed by Musharraf on March 9, 2007. A full bench of Pakistan’s Supreme Court reinstated Chief Justice Chaudhry on July 20, 2007.

Qayyum was appointed attorney general of Pakistan by Musharraf in August 2007.

To download the audio recording of Pakistan’s Attorney General Malik Qayyum discussing election rigging (in Urdu with English transcript), please visit:

http://hrw.org/audio/2008/urdu/pakistan0208.htm

For more of Human Rights Watch’s work on Pakistan, please visit:

http://hrw.org/pakistan

For more information, please contact:

In London, Brad Adams (English): +44-20-7713-2767; or +44-790-872-8333 (mobile)

In Washington, DC, Tom Malinowski (English): +1-202-612-4358; or +1-202-309-3551 (mobile)

15 comments:

Alan said...

To either Brad or Tom:

That story reads hhhhhhhot! and you have the audio too.

If either of you have English-only (or English with some French) interviews to be transcribed, and you're "on the fly" busy, need them fast, consider me.

That's what I do to "liberate" writers to write.

Anonymous said...

I am worried about Pakistan the day after the election if the "massive rigging" is carried out. Pakistanis are not asleep.

God bring peace to Pakistan.

Bob Spencer said...

These elections are not just corruption as usual in some far-away developing country.

The Taliban’s drug trade business has paved the way for their becoming a global force. Their global network starts in Pakistan, and every day, the Taliban and other fundamentalist encroach in more and more spheres of Pakistani life. They have business deals and alliances with a spectrum of secular businesses that do business worldwide. They have Pakistani power that transforms into global power.

Most of the people do not like these changes, but many elements of the Pakistani Army have formed alliances with these religious fundamentalist forces and the Army will not stop that encroachment into the Pakistani society and economy. Along side the power of the Taliban drug business, the Pakistani Army operates a huge 20 billion-dollar business network that includes a broad base of activities and products. But still, the people do not like it and are angry.

One researcher recently wrote that the U.S. does not have the resources to simultaneously help Afghanistan and Pakistan. Well, the U.S. does have one big option. We can stop writing blank checks to President Pervez Musharraf and his military business machine that supports the Taliban. If we did that, we would have even more resources to help Afghanistan.

By way of contrast. Let’s take a look at the other side of Pakistan’s border with China. China had a fairly serious Al Qaeda sponsored Muslim insurgency in that region. As you would expect, China initially tried brutal suppression and resettling a different ethnic group into that region. But, the insurgency gained strength. After that, China began to cultivate a broad base of popular support around every conceivable issue and development project. They developed a political network that replaced the insurgency network. On top of that, they cultivated a broad-based political will that really did-in the Al Qaeda insurgents.

China also operates a huge military sponsored business network, but that did not stop them from recruiting a popular base of support.

The U.S. sponsors a military regime that does not have to worry about a popular base because the U.S. enables the military to do whatever they want and they accommodate the Taliban more and more every day.

One day that Taliban encroachment in Pakistan will lead right to the nuclear arsenal and the worldwide drug trade network can take those nukes directly to every U.S. city. That includes your city and my city. All of that will be against Pakistani popular will----by a huge margin, and we are still writing those blank checks.

Bob Spencer

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that Mr. Spencer says we would have more resources "to help Afghanastan."

I am not sure the goal of the US was ever to help anyone other than itself.

Bob Spencer said...

Ah yes. Most self-respecting peasants around the world would expect that if we help them, then we should help ourselves in an equal proportion. It’s an equal trade-off that contains more human dignity. If you ever try to help someone by just giving them something, they will end-up resenting you or even hating you. Human dignity is the bottom line.

Have a good one!

Bob

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