Pakistan - Politics
Military Coup: Pervez Musharraf
On 14 October 1999, General Pervez Musharraf, Army Chief of Staff, declared a state of emergency and issued the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO), which suspended the federal and provincial Parliaments, held the Constitution in abeyance, and designated Musharraf as Chief Executive. Following the 12 October 1999 ouster of the government of Prime Minister Sharif, the military-led government stated its intention to restructure the political and electoral systems. Musharraf officially became head of the Pakistani state on 20 June 2001.
Musharraf's takeover was unconstitutional, but there was silent approval by the majority of Pakistanis at the time. The Pakistani people believed the Army would bring sweeping changes to Pakistan by restoring the country's international image, eliminating widespread corruption, stabilizing the security situation, and providing jobs and hope to the general population. After 3 years of General Musharraf's rule, public enchantment with the Army had waned.
The 1999 coup was not the first attempt by the military to intervene in the chaotic political situation during the 1980s and 1990s. Musharraf's first blatant attempt to hang onto power was on 30 April 2002, when he held a referendum to confirm himself as president for the next 5 years. The government claimed a 60 percent turnout in which 97 percent of voters approved of Musharraf remaining as president. The press, international monitoring groups, human rights organizations, and all domestic political parties accused the government of electoral fraud. Independent observers put the turnout at between 10 and 20 percent.
Seeking to ease international concern about the nature of his regime and rise to power, Musharraf sought to put Nawaz Sharif, and six others, on trial for attempted murder and hijacking in relation to the October coup. The charges were centered around the allegation that Sharif had ordered landing rights denied to a plane carrying Musharraf and 200 other people, said to have been dangerously low on fuel. Military forces eventually took control of the Karachi airport and allowed the plane to land, an event followed just hours later by the completion of the coup. The charges also alleged that Sharif had attempt to collect men and arms in preparation for a counter coup and had sought to kill Musharraf. Sharif was convicted in April 2000 and sentenced to life in prison. By May he was put on trial again by the Musharraf government on charges of corruption. In July he was convicted on charges of tax evasion. Sharif's legal defense team boycotted these trails on numerous occasions in protest of the fairness of the proceedings. In December 2000, Sharif went into self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia.
General Musharraf banned Sunni militants Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and its Shiite counterpart Sipah-e-Mohammad in August 2001. After the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked on September 11, 2001, Musharraf pledged complete cooperation with the United States in the war on terror, which included locating and shutting down terrorist training camps within Pakistan's borders, cracking down on extremist groups and withdrawing support for the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
In January 2002, he banned four more groups, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Tehrik-e-Jafaria Pakistan, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi. The latter was banned for "misleading thousands of simple poor people into Afghanistan and being responsible for their massacre." The banned groups were reorganized under new names. The Jamaiat-ud-Dawa (JuD) was the rechristened version of Lashkar-e-Taiba. The banned Tehrik-e Jafaria Pakistan had renamed itself Tehrik-e-Islami, Masood Azhar's Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) had resumed working as Khudam-ul-Islam and Al Furqan. The Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, led by the slain Azam Tariq, was reincarnated as Millat-e-Islamia Pakistan. The Markaz-ad-Dawa-wal-Irsahd subsequently operated as the Jamaat-ad-Dawa.
New general parliamentary and provincial elections were held on 10 October 2002. A total of 72 parties were registered to contest, but strict rules had been decided upon in advance which barred the former democratically elected Prime Ministers to take part, whereas their parties were allowed to participate. Final results to the National Assembly elections:
- Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam), PML (Q) - 117 (led by Mian Mohd. Azhar)
- Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians, PPPP - 81 (led by Benazir Bhutto)
- Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, MMA - 60
- Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), PML (N) - 19 (led by Nawaz Sharif)
- Muttahida Qaumi Movement, MQM - 17 (led by Altaf Hussain)
- National Alliance, NA - 16 (led by Imtiaz Sheikh)
- Pakistan Muslim League (Functional) - 5
- Pakistan Muslim League (Junejo) - 3
- Pakistan Peoples Party (Sherpao) - 2
- Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf - 1
- Pakistan Awami Tehrik - 1
- Pakistan Muslim League (Zia) - 1
- Balochistan National Party - 1
- Jamhoori Watan Party - 1
- MQM(H) - 1
- PSPP - 1
- Independent candidates - 15
The PML-Q, also called the "king's party" due to its perceived pro-military bent, won 118 of the total 342 seats, mostly from Punjab. The affiliated National Alliance won 16 seats. This gave the pro-Musharraf parties a plurality in the National Assembly, but not a majority. As expected, the PPP did well in Sindh, but was unable to form a working coalition in that province's legislature. The PML-N suffered huge losses, winning only 19 national seats, all of them in Punjab. The Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) did well in Sindh's provincial elections. The MQM collected only a small percentage of the national vote (winning 17 national seats), and aligned itself with the PML-Q. Small parties and independents account for the remaining 31 seats. The previously influential Awami National Party was shut out at the national level.
The the pro-military Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) had been the prominent national political parties, while the Muttahid Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an umbrella group of six religious parties, including the Jamaat-I-Islami, Pakistan's oldest religious party, gained significant influence during the 2002 election. Other parties with a strong regional, ethnic, or religious base include the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). After the elections held in late 2002, the Pakistani political system remained highly fragmented, with no group winning a substantial majority of seats in the legislature, and religious groups banding together in the MMA to earn a very significant portion of seats for the first time.
In November 2002 Pakistan's National Assembly elected Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali as the country's first civilian prime minister since the 1999 military coup. The 58-year-old Pakistani leader was from the southwestern province of Balochistan. He won 172 votes out of 328, defeating candidates from an Islamic alliance and the party of exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. For almost five weeks after the general election, Mr. Jamali's party held several rounds of talks with the alliance of Islamic parties, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, to form a coalition. The negotiations broke down over differences over President Musharraf's constitutional amendments, which allow him to stay in office for five more years. The amendments also gave the president power to dismiss the elected government. Prime Minister Jamali's party accepted these changes, saying they were needed to ensure a stable democratic system in Pakistan.
The multi-party Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD), which was made up of liberal politicians of the PPP and the PML (N), included the political party of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto PPP, which emerged as the second largest party in Parliament.
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