Pakistanis Deal Severe Defeat to Musharraf in Election

By | February 19, 2008

Pakistanis Deal Severe Defeat to Musharraf in Election

Pakistanis dealt a crushing defeat to President Pervez Musharraf in parliamentary elections on Monday, in what government and opposition politicians said was a firm rejection of his policies since 2001 and those of his close ally, the United States.

Almost all the leading figures in the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, the party that has governed for the last five years under Mr. Musharraf, lost their seats, including the leader of the party, the former speaker of Parliament and six ministers.

Official results are expected Tuesday, but early returns indicated that the vote would usher in a prime minister from one of the opposition parties, and opened the prospect of a Parliament that would move to undo many of Mr. Musharraf’s policies and that may even try to remove him.

Early results showed equal gains for the Pakistan Peoples Party, whose leader, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated on Dec. 27, and the Pakistan Muslim League-N, the faction led by Nawaz Sharif, like Ms. Bhutto a former prime minister. Each party may be in a position to form the next government.

The results were interpreted here as a repudiation of Mr. Musharraf as well as the Bush administration, which has staunchly backed him for more than six years as its best bet in the campaign against the Islamic militants in Pakistan. American officials will have little choice now but to seek alternative allies from among the new political forces emerging from the vote.

Politicians and party workers from Mr. Musharraf’s party said the vote was a protest against government policies and the rise in terrorism here, in particular against Mr. Musharraf’s heavy-handed way of dealing with militancy and his use of the army against tribesmen in the border areas, and against militants in a siege at the Red Mosque here in the capital last summer that left more than 100 people dead.

Source: NYT

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