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Pakistani Government Puts Elections On Hold

January 02, 2008 02:34 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Following Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, the Pakistani government of President Pervez Musharraf postpones this month’s elections. Opponents accuse Musharraf of temporizing to stay in power.

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Qazi Muhammad Farooq, Pakistan's chief election commissioner justice, has announced that the parliamentary elections scheduled for Jan. 8 will be held on Feb.18, 2008.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto, head of the Pakistan People’s Party, was the avowed cause of the delay. “Her demise affected every walk of life; similarly, January 8 elections were also affected,” Farooq said.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Bhutto’s death has become the catalyst for anti-government sentiment. There have been widespread riots. Some commentators have speculated that the intensity of anti-Musharraf feeling is the real reason the elections have been put back.

Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, expressed frustration at the postponement. "There can be elections in Sri Lanka where there is a constant war. There can be elections in Afghanistan where there is an al-Qaeda movement. Why can't there be elections in Pakistan and on time?" he told the press.

Benazir Bhutto was killed on Dec. 27 in Rawalpindi, where she had been addressing supporters in the run-up to the January elections.

There has been debate and anger about the varying accounts of her death.

The Pakistani Interior Ministry said that the cause of death was a fractured skull, incurred while she ducked into her car to avoid being shot.

However, eyewitnesses claim that she was shot just before a suicide bomber blew himself up. Their testimony appears to be confirmed by video footage of the attack.

Government critics have suggested that President Musharraf is either complicit in her killing or that his government was criminally negligent in not providing adequate security.

Headline Links: Elections on hold

Background Links: The immediate effects of the assassination

Opinion & Analysis: Democracy in Pakistan

Reference Material: ‘Bhutto’s Death Leaves Hole in U.S. Foreign Policy’

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