Rani Singh

Riding away with votes

Riding away with votes
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PML(N) Sindh Province President S.G.A Shah told Coffee House on Sunday that the next Zardari-Sharif meeting for the new  PPP/ PML(N) alliance will be on the 19th February, following on from their lunch last weekend. He emphasised that since neither of them are contesting a seat in this election, neither of them can be Prime Minister right now. (Though a by-election in a couple of months could fix that little problem).The PPP has refused overtures from Washington to join hands with Musharraf and together with the PML(N) has agreed to ask the President to resign.

The PPP Co-chair Asif Ali Zardari does not want to do business with the Bush regime, according to the News on Monday, preferring to talk to Democrats about elections, life and the universe.

Musharraf’s PML (Q) is confident that the new-found friendship between Sharif and Zardari will not produce a long-lasting coalition, according to the News. The writer argues that fresh elections may be needed after six months or so.

Bloomberg describes turnout as lower than in previous elections. S.G.A Shah agrees:

“Voters have been threatened and scared off, because of the circumstances and suicide bombs.” 

(A lower turnout might help the PLM(Q), since the anger against high food prices, the cost of electricity, and the judiciary crisis may not have translated onto the street in the form of votes).

When S.G. A. Shah was Defence Minister, Pervez Mushrraf was a Major-General. Shah remembers him as “impulsive.”

He alleges that “high level rigging” will have taken place:

“Certain people from the PML (Q) have been caught by the Rangers with thousands of ballot papers … they stamp them so that when the actual voters turn up, they find their voting slips already filled in … In Gujrat, ID cards have been collected in return for money, to be returned one day after the elections.  And in Sialkot, a constituency where a PML(N) candidate is standing, they have offered one Honda 70 motorcycle to anyone who can bring them 40 ID cards.”