On Friday Human Rights Watch released a recording that it maintains is of Pakistan's Attorney General, acknowledging that the nations parliamentary elections scheduled for Monday will be "massively rigged."
Human Rights Watch said the recording was made by a journalist during a telephone interview with Attorney General Malik Qayyum. The AG interrupted the interview with the journalist to take a second call, but failed to disconnect the first, thus allowing his end of the second conversation to be overheard and recorded.
The AG interrupted the interview with the journalist to take a second call, but failed to disconnect the first, thus allowing his end of the second conversation to be overheard and recorded.
Human Rights Watch said a journalist made the recording during a telephone interview with Attorney General Malik Qayyum when Qayyum took a second call without disconnecting the first, allowing his end of the second conversation to be overheard and recorded.
The recording was released a day after Pakistani president Pervez Musharref warned the opposition that they must accept the outcome of Monday's elections, and not take to the streets in protest. (Where, pray tell, has this man been???)
"Let there be no doubt that anyone will be allowed to resort to lawlessness in the garb of allegations about rigging in the elections," Musharraf was quoted as telling a seminar of government officials in Islamabad by the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan. "Let this serve as a warning to all those who think they can disturb the peace of the country. They will not be allowed. Do not test the resolve of the government."
"No agitation, anarchy or chaos can be acceptable," he said. "I assure you that the elections will be fair, free, and transparent and peaceful."
Fears of vote-rigging have been fed by polls that show the Pakistani Peoples Party and other opposition parties on the verge of capturing enough seats to toss Musharraf out on his (now un-uniformed) ass for abrogating the nations constitution last year so he could consolidate his power.
Musharraf's standing, and that of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, also has been hurt by skyrocketing prices, shortages of electricity, gas and wheat, a failure to contain the Islamic insurgency based in the tribal area bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan's support for the Bush administration's fight against al Qaida.
"There have been numerous allegations of irregularities, including arrests and harassment of opposition candidates and party members. There are also allegations that state resources, administration, and state machinery are being used to the advantage of candidates backed by President Pervez Musharraf," Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
Human Rights Watch said it had tried repeatedly to contact Qayyum, a staunch supporter of Musharraf, but had been unable to reach him.
On Thursday Asif Ali Zadari, the widower of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, held a final rally of members of her Pakistani Peoples Party in the same park where his wife gave her first political address three decades ago.
Security was high and reflected an upsurge in suicide attacks that have included attacks on opposition rallies and gatherings. Police sharpshooters took up positions on rooftops and scanned the crowds while commandos dressed in black from head to toe stood among the security personnel who ringed the stage.
In a sign of the times, the stage was set back from the barricades that kept the crowd a safe distance from the stage, and Ms. Bhutto's husband spoke from behind a podium of bulletproof glass and steel.
Without naming Musharraf, Mr. Zardari said that it was time to change the system. "Benazir was a martyr. She believed in you, in the brothers and sisters, and I also believe in you," he proclaimed.
And that's all well and good - so long as the elections are fair.