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Pakistan's Opposition Parties Headed for Victory

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Pakistan's Opposition Parties Headed for Victory

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Pakistan's Opposition Parties Headed for Victory

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The votes are still being counted, as we've heard, but we also heard that Musharraf's ruling party has conceded defeat ,and his opponents have declared a win.

Joining us now is Husain Haqqani. He's director of Boston University's Center for International Relations. He was also a longtime friend and adviser to assassinated opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. Good morning.

Dr. HUSAIN HAQQANI (Director, Boston University's Center for International Relations): Good morning.

MONTAGNE: How surprised are you that the elections actually went against President Musharraf and in a big way?

Dr. HAQQANI: Two things, I think. One of them is that General Musharraf was banking on pre-poll rigging, the fact that he had actually skewed all the rules in favor of his party. And he thought that that would be enough. And second, the army refused to stuff ballot boxes. So what happened, really, is that General Musharraf thought that he's already stacked the deck, and he thought that that was enough. The wave of opposition support was so strong that the government simply could not withstand that wave.

MONTAGNE: And you are close to Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, which seems to have gotten the most votes for the opposition. What do you think? Would an opposition government work with Musharraf or try to push him out?

Dr. HAQQANI: I think that both options exist. There will be elements within the opposition that would want General Musharraf to be pushed out immediately. But there will also be a desire to try and find a solution whereby the institution can be restored, most of the issues with General Musharraf that the opposition has addressed, but without destabilizing the country too much. The Pakistan People's Party, of course, has certain differences with the party of Mr. Nawaz Sharif. The PMLQ Party that supported General Musharraf was a very, very distant third in many, many of defeats. So, quite clearly, people who were voting, were voting against Musharraf, but they were also making a choice between the PPP and the PMLN on certain issues. And those issues are that the PMLN is more amenable to finding a negotiated settlement of the problem of tribal militancy and Islamist militancy in the not distance providence layers, where the PPP is willing to take a tougher stand. That said, I think General Musharraf is a very troubled man this morning.

MONTAGNE: Asif Ali Zardari, who now heads Bhutto's Party, the PPP, he has suggested that he may not go along with restoring the supreme court judges who Musharraf sacked. If that court is restored, those judges might also overturn the amnesty which allowed Bhutto and Mr. Zardari to come back into the country, an amnesty against corruption charges. What do you think about that?

Dr. HAQQANI: I think that the amnesty and stuff like that are all moot now. The people of Pakistan have spoken. An overwhelming majority of Pakistanis has voted. Both cases have not been proven in 11 years. I think General Musharraf, if he's a sensible person, the first thing he would do is unilaterally end all the cases that he filed against Mr. Zardari and other members of the Pakistan People's Party. Look, there are only two ways of dealing with corruption charges in any civilized country.

One is to convict people in a court of law, which General Musharraf has clearly failed to do. The other is to take the matter to the people and let them decide. And that is a way to deal with allegations against politicians. And now the people have clearly decided, they knew that Mr. Zardari leads the Pakistan People's Party, and they still voted for the PPP in the largest numbers. And I think that that settles the matter.

MONTAGNE: One last question: In repudiating Musharraf, are Pakistani voters also repudiating his great ally, the U.S.?

Dr. HAQQANI: I think that people are repudiating the United States for giving full support to General Musharraf and his dictatorship and not standing up for the rights of the Pakistani people for all the disappearances that have taken place under General Musharraf, all the human rights violations. However, the United States has an opportunity to change its stance and support democracy by supporting those whom the people of Pakistan have voted for.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

Dr. HAQQANI: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: Husain Haqqani is director of Boston University's Center for International Relations, and a supporter of the opposition party of the late Benazir Bhutto.

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