Tuesday, Oct 01, 2002
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By B. Muralidhar Reddy
The manifesto for the October general election has devoted two chapters to the abuse of power by successive military regimes but conveniently skips the contentious issues it has sought to raise against Gen. Musharraf.
The 16-page document, featuring a photograph of Ms. Bhutto with a microphone in her hand in a sitting posture, does not even mention Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the president of the newly-floated outfit of the party, PPP Parliamentarians.
Since Ms. Bhutto refused to end her self-imposed exile and return home to campaign after the Election Commission rejected her nomination papers, the `burden' of leading the party has fallen on the shoulders of Mr. Fahim.
Releasing the manifesto along with the PPPP general secretary, Raza Rabbani, Mr. Fahim said that his party was determined to prevent irregularities by the military regime and that it would emerge victorious in the polls. However, there was no explanation as to why the manifesto was silent on all contentious issues.
The manifesto did not say whether or not the party would allow Gen. Musharraf to continue for a further period of five years as President on the basis of the controversial April referendum. The stated position of the party was that only the electoral college consisting of members of the National Assembly and the Senate could elect the President.
The manifesto was also silent on the controversial amendments made by the Pakistan President to the suspended 1973 Constitution and the creation of the National Security Council, seen as a super parliament, with Gen. Musharraf as the chairman. Among the controversial changes in the statute was the restoration of powers to the President to dissolve the National Assembly.
There was no word either about the desire or willingness of the party to coordinate Government formation efforts with other like-minded parties. The PPPP chief had offered only last week to form a coalition government with the Pakistan Muslim League led by another former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, now in exile and out of the electoral race.
The PPPP attacked the ``military-bureaucratic clique'' that had presided over Pakistan since its birth in 1947 and promised to establish a `truth and reconciliation commission' to give relief to the political class that had become a victim of the `clique'. It said the commission would ``lift the lid on State-sponsored perversion of justice and perjured statements obtained through torture which involved criminalising of the very custodians of law."
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