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AP Crows: Musharraf Party’s Been Defeated

From an elated Associated Press:

Supporters of Awami National Party (ANP) celebrate their party’s victory in the Pakistani parliamentary election in Peshawar February 19, 2008.

Pakistan’s ruling party concedes defeat

By MATTHEW PENNINGTON, Associated Press Writer

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan’s ruling party conceded defeat to the opposition Tuesday in parliamentary elections that could threaten the rule of President Pervez Musharraf, a key American ally in the war on terror.

The party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted in Musharraf’s 1999 coup, scored a stronger-than-expected showing with a campaign that called for Musharraf’s ouster. After the vote, he called for the president to step down.

“We accept the election results, and will sit on opposition benches,” Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, head of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q, told AP Television News. “We are accepting the results with grace and open heart.”

The results cast doubt on the political future of Musharraf, who was re-elected to a five-year term last October. With the support of smaller groups and independent candidates, the opposition could gain the two-thirds majority in parliament needed to impeach the president.

Sen. Joseph Biden, a Democrat who chairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of several U.S. lawmakers who observed the election, said the results mean the United States can shift its Pakistan policy.

“This is an opportunity for us to move from a policy that has been focused on a personality to one based on an entire people,” Biden said, adding that Washington should encourage more deeply rooted democracy in Pakistan…

A win by the opposition is likely to restore the public’s faith in the political process and quell fears that the results would be rigged in favor of the pro-Musharraf forces.

The private Geo TV network said the party of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and another group led by Sharif had so far won 153 seats, more than half of the 272-seat National Assembly.

The ruling party was a distant third with 38 seats and a number of party stalwarts and former Cabinet ministers lost in their constituencies.

“All the king’s men gone!” proclaimed a banner headline in the Daily Times.

Final results were not expected before Tuesday evening but the election’s outcome appeared to be a stinging public verdict on Musharraf’s leadership. His popularity had plummeted following his decisions late last year to impose emergency rule, purge the judiciary, jail political opponents and curtail press freedoms…

If the opposition falls short of enough votes to remove Musharraf, the new government could reinstate the Supreme Court justices and ask them to declare the October election invalid.

Musharraf, at best, faces the prospect of remaining in power with sharply diminished powers and facing a public hostile to him…

Sharif and others have called for dialogue with the extremists and have criticized military operations in the area because of their impact on civilians.

Geo TV said unofficial tallies from 229 of the 268 National Assembly seats being contested showed Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party with 33 percent and Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N party with 27 percent. The PML-Q was third with 14 percent.

The Election Commission had results for 124 seats, with Sharif’s party holding 30 percent, Bhutto’s party 27 percent and the PML-Q 12 percent…

Of course the Associated Press hates dictators — unless they are sworn enemies of the United States, like Fidel Castro. Then they worship them.

All told, however, and despite Mr. Biden’s pig ignorant pronouncements, this election will probably change things very little within Pakistan. For in point of fact the military is still in charge.

At least, we better hope that’s the case.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, February 19th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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