If Musharraf’s PML(Q) party manages to pull off a majority with its chief ally the MQM, there could be widespread agitation by the supporters of the main opposition parties the PPP and the PML(N). There have already been public meetings between Nawaz Sharif of the PML(N) and PPP co-Chair Asif Ali Zardari, and they now make joint statements in a show of solidarity as in a message of condolence and dismay at the PML(N) candidate murdered in a shooting on Sunday night
Musharraf has told the press that he is willing to work with a new PM and, perhaps as part of a new outlook, is adopting a conciliatory tone, talking of “the politics of accommodation.”
The Dawn’s analysis highlights my point about Punjab being a major battleground with its 148 seats in the National assembly.
Television channels (particularly Western ones) say endearingly that signs of rigging and fraud are not visible. Surely that is the point. M. Ziauddin of the Dawn says:
“Rigging has been perfected- you simply cannot catch them. Most of it is completed beforehand, with the last part done on the day. Apart from ghost polling stations, opponents in a strong position are often blackmailed. Also, where the riggers are winning, they pace up the polling, and where they are doing badly, they deliberately slow everything down on the day.”
Opposition groups talk of polling stations being physically moved into favourable locations.
Geo TV is now announcing results as they are declared by returning officers; it seems to be too early to see a front runner. All the parties, including the PML(Q), are holding their own.
Just under two hours ago anchor Kamran Khan cross-questioned the presiding officer of a frontier province polling station which appeared to have decided its results well before the polls had officially closed. The presiding officer said that mostly people in the mountainous tribal region have voted well before the end of play so the officers, not expecting any more voters, count the ballot papers and then declare the result. Subtext, indicative of the ethos of the region: we know our locals best and we know what to do, so you know what to do with your official rules!