Monday, November 12, 2007
Pakistan's unanswered question
How popular is Benazir Bhutto?

It is one of the central questions in Pakistan politics right now. No one knows for sure. She would have the world believe she can mobilize millions of supporters at the click of her fingers, but so far she’s been unable to do so.

But Bhutto is a master of rhetoric and hyperbole. Take, for example, her claim that 3 million people turned out to greet her in Karachi last month as she returned to Pakistan after eight years of self-imposed exile. The police and most media put the figure at closer to 200,000. We were there filming for CNN and certainly didn’t see crowds anywhere near 3 million.

Since then, her Pakistan People’s Party has been ruthlessly hounded by the authorities, amid a widespread crackdown on opposition by General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president. As a result, the PPP’s organizational structure has been decimated, with many activists behind bars, and has been unable to orchestrate rallies against the government. Last Friday’s failed demonstration in Rawalpindi – which was successfully blocked by security forces acting under Musharraf’s ongoing state of emergency decree -- state of was testament to just how crippled the PPP now is.

Now, Musharraf has gone on the offensive, suggesting Bhutto is not nearly as popular as she claims.

“Go into the rural areas of Punjab, go into the cities of Punjab, and see whether she has gained in popularity or gone down in popularity because of certain actions, certain comments she has been making,” he told a press conference in Islamabad this weekend –- implying that journalists would discover that many of the rural poor traditionally identified as being Bhutto supporters have in fact become disenchanted with her.

What the General didn’t spell out is that could be in part because she had started cozying up to him after years of being one of his harshest critics while in exile. That was all part of a power-sharing deal, being brokered by the United States. That deal now appears to lie in tatters, with Bhutto and Musharraf on a dangerous collision course.

But amid the ever-shifting sands of Pakistan politics, it’s almost impossible to gauge how each side is faring in the court of public opinion.

“It is very difficult to find out how popular she is,” Rahul Roy-Chaudhary of the International Institute of Strategic Studies said. “I mean, one basis of course is the last election, where the PPP came out as single largest political party. But since then several years have passed, and Benazir Bhutto has been in exile.

“Plus, of course, there is a prospective relationship deal between Benazir Bhutto and President Musharraf which would weaken her position and her public support,” he added.

Many of her traditional constituency would support her no matter what she does. Her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who during his career served as both the country’s president and its prime minister, is still revered here, and the Bhutto family name carries a lot of weight, especially in Sindh province. But some of her supporters have become disillusioned by the allegations of corruption and incompetence that dogged Benazir Bhutto’s first two terms as prime minister.

Lt. Gen. Talat Masood retired from the Pakistan army some years ago, but is a seasoned observer of politics here. He acknowledges Bhutto has a long way to go to convince the educated middle classes that she should be given another chance.

“She has a major problem of trust –- both with the political parties and with many with many people of Pakistan, so I think she has to revive that trust,” he said.

But reviving that trust will not be easy – first she has to get into office. She is threatening to conduct a “long march” to democracy, leading tens of thousands of supporters from Lahore to Islamabad.

There’s just one problem -– the military is again attempting to block her path, using the excuse that her life could be in danger from suicide bombers and pointing to the attack in Karachi the day she returned to Pakistan as proof. And that will mean that we won’t be able to see how many people she could actually get onto the streets –- and the central question in Pakistani politics will remain unanswered.

-- From Dan Rivers, CNN International Correspondent.
Her support is often underestimated in the opinion polls as they are gathered in urban areas and mostly from a sample consisting of educated middle class, while her support base is the people living below poverty line, lower middle classes and people living in rural areas.
Dear CNN median people,

It is very sad writing to you people. I just want to ask something.

1. Why America is supporting a Military Dictator? Just because Bush can't face civilian Governments?
2. If USA, UK and all other developed countries stop manuplating the situation, the real democracy can be restored. But they would not do so as due to having their own vested interest in the region. By restoring decomcracy, they can lose the game. What a hypocracy USA is adopting?
3. Why USA is scared by restoring true democracy in Pakistan?
4. USA should stop supporting military dictators.
5. Now its's USA's turn to become fool, as Musharraf is dodging them and killing his own foes instead of terrorist.

It is my humble request to all developed countries especially USA & UK to stop interfering in Pakistan's matters, otherwise it could be very much dangerous for him.

"We can't have good results under the gun. We can get solved the problems by civilian governments with the helpf of dialogues"
I can't see how Ms Bhutto could be so popular with the people of Pakistan. Surely, everyone understands that she has grabbed the opportunity provided by the moment to wash off her corruption cases. Does she imagine that the people of Pakistan do not remember her previous rule?
There is also the question of demographics. I think that Punjab - especially the rural areas - are unlikely to support her in large numbers.
Pakistanis would also suspect that a big charade is being played out by Musharraf and Bhutto - they have a secret understanding and are nudging events in a manner that suits both of them.
It is a long shot right now but in an year or two, the eventual winners well might be Nawaz Sharif or even Imran Khan!
US wants democray every where but when it comes to Pakistan then they support a dictator. Musharaf is another Saddam in the making. History should teach us a lesson , Saddam was also supported by US. Its amazes me that the so called developed nations carrying the Falg post of democray is behind a dictator. So far Musharaf has killed his own people. All the Taliban are running around free with more power. They are indirectly supported by Pakistan Army.
people party of bhutto;
four days before zulfikarali bhutto was hanged, I with Dr. Mrs.
Ashraf Abbasi, a leader of People Party went around the city of karachi to mobilize party workers to come on the street against the hanging. guess what all the leaders of the party have gone into hidding.Zulfikar bhutto have the following, If his hanging didnot bring the people on the street, his daughter whom many citizens of Pakistan consider her corrupt is not in position to insite people to come on the street.
Fida Sayani
1110 Auston Grove Drive
Raleigh, NC 27610
Ms Bhutto made a deal with President Musharaff under the name of National Reconciliation Ordinance to save her one billion dollars in Swiss Banks. It was at a time when the united opposition of ARD and APDM had Musharaff under immense pressure when all of them resigned from Federal and Provincial Parliament. Had Ms Bhutto sided with the opposition parties at that time, than perhaps she might would not have witnessed post emergency situation which is an enormous humiliation for the whole nation.
It is hard to believe that Ms Bhutto will stick for a week with her statement which said that she wants Musharraf to quit as a President and Corps Commander and her party will bycott election if he does not. Most people do not trust her statement anymore because of her double standards of dealing with other opposition parties.
As the world looks on to Pakistan, there exists very little in the way of alternative views presented by the media: it is either that of Bhutto or Musharraf.

This is the gravest mistake that the media can commit. Since international media has very little accountability to individual nations, there is no pull towards grassroots coverage in politically tense sitations. Maybe big media outfits are afraid of getting cut off from their own lifespring of information in that country. Maybe they just can't reach the grassroots.

But the tangible and real effect on the media, regardless of media's excuses, or media's actual situation, is that it becomes a tool for the bigwigs, a game of the generals and the oppositionists. The thing is, it is the audience that is being played. A global audience.

It is time we hear from the people on the ground. It is time we listen to their voices. It is time for the media to be where the real news is, to be where it counts.

Relevance is not relative.
Under Butto's previous elected tenure, there are many cases still before the Pakistan courts today, of corruption and misappropriation of funds. The Pakistani chief justices began behaving as judge, jury and executioner by enacting laws that were NOT passed by the proper judicial channels, debated and voted upon to become law. Then there is the issue of the loss of 1.5 billion from the treasury by previous leaders prior to Musharaff!
The president is the best of a very bad bunch, leave him alone and let him do what he has to do without political interference. Things are just different in Pakistan, and that country has to resolve it's problems by itself. Mushareff is a honest and bright leader and the educated citizens are 100% behind him, because he has a direction and a purpose. Bhutto is a person who has already broken laws, promises, and is being pushed along by her own agenda for whatever purpose, and the harmony in the country does not seem high on her priority list. If the media looks at the issues the president has to deal with, rather than that of an attention seeker, they will see a different story.
It is a really sad state of affair if we have to choose between Musharraf and Ms. Bhutto. After all Ms. Bhutto had her chance already and I do not recall that she did all that much good for the country. Same goes for Nawaz Shareef. My vote would go for Imran Khan, at least some one new !
There is no confusion about Banazir Bhutto that she can change the fate of the country based on her vision, and experience she has gained so far with mistakes in the last few years. She is certainly the potical leader we can look upto, as the battle field for Potical leader is empty and everyone else in the country cannot deal with the situation to the Local and International level as she can. I am not the fan of Banazir but since her home-coming i have been following her interviews, and i found her loud and clear in her vision and she is full potential to drive people from educated and moderate classes to bring the revolution in this country for democracy.

She defintely deserves to be given a fare chance.
Rivers has missed just one point. Benazir's support has slid downward more because she is perceived as an Ameican agent. That is what Musharraf meant when he alluded to her "comments." She has openly said she would allow FBI access to Dr. Qadeer and to US troops to operate inside Pakistan. US agents are often beheaded.
Benazir's support has sagged actually because she is perceived as a US "agent." That's what Gen. Musharraf meant when he alluded to her "comments." She has been openly saying she would allow FBI to quiz Dr. Qadeer and US troops to operate inside Pakistan. She must know that people suspected of being US agents are often beheaded.
PPP workers have seen tougher times during zia's regime so this shouldn't be alien to's true that most if not all of BB's support comes from the fact that she's zulfiqar ali bhutto's daughter and this is probably why it's not going to fade away that easily.unfortunately[and fortunately for BB] the "educated middle class" is not a majority in pakistan so as long as the poor,uneducated and rural class is behind her she hardly has anything to worry about!
Lets get one thing straight. Everyone will have to agree that in the history of Pakistan the most honest and least corrupt people have been the Military dictators. Law and Order have been extremely well executed during military dictatorship. I totally trust and have my full faith in Musharraf. Everyone is missing the main point and goal of his self imposed rule...To eliminate terrorism in the Northern tribal areas bordering Afghanistan where the situation is getting extremely out of hand. He did this for a greater cause a greater good. This is the only way how. The only thing organized, processed, and streamlined in Pakistan is the Army. This is largely due to its years of rivalry against its neighbor India. Nothing else in this country is orderly and can be counted on. Not the police, not the judicial system, not the media, and especially not anything to do with politics. In Pakistan politics is like IPOs in the western world. Its a business opportunity that everyone wants in on. Thats the reason for so many activists (aside from the lawyers). Politics tops the corruption chart and Benazir Bhutto is the clan leader and role model of corrupt politicians. Her husband a stealer, rapist, murderer, and an extortionist. Benazir's supporters are feudal lords with lots of lands and lots of farmers. These farmers and indentured servants will be shot or their daughters raped if they dare try to support or vote for anyone different. Pakistan's education system is outdated and the worst in the world. Northern Pakistan where all the trouble is, is filled with the pashtoon people (Afghans). Their culture and tradition entails one thing...the gun. They mass produce and distribute guns, drugs, illegal contraband, and extremism. To top of it all they are well known for their queer and sexually deviant antics. Come on people democracy is not always the answer, especially when the very core of a country is rotten enough to be the devil's vacation home out of hell. So who comes out as an angel in the midst of these chaotic times? Musharraf. He is the best we have had in a while and the best we have got at the moment.
I am shocked daily when i look at the CNN front page. You are presenting BB as the opposition leader in Pakistan. However as all of us the realilty is on the contrary. She is in deal with the Government and for her badluck the people of Pakistan are also aware of the fact. She is popular on CNN and in her family only. She had a powerful background for politics ....Mr ZA Bhutto but then she has a corrupt Husband Mr. Zardari. Her exile was self imposed unlike Nawaz's. I request CNN to please be transparent in their coverage and give her the place she deserves more. You need to pick the Lawyes, Imran khan and Nawaz sharid as the real opposition. Sometimes the western media seems to me like the Ostrich with head in the sand. Be realistic please.
When the time comes to vote - I cannot imagine that people with intelligence would not remember the corruption at personal Bhutto level and at the PPP party level. We need new leadership from any party whose past record is not blemished - that should leave Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif out - but from their parties some one of integrity should rise. May God help Pakistan from recycle corrupt leadership.
I mean, really who cares about Bhutto's popularity when all the lawyers who show up to court to meet clients are being arrested. The real question is, when will Pakistan see a change in leadership. Benazir wants it bad enough, she needs to be given a chance for redemption.
Benazir Bhutto's rule in Pakistan was one of the worst in the history of this nation. Corruption was rampant down to any level in the society that one can imgaine. In all, since the so-called "democracy" was introduced in Pakistan, the nation has gone down the path of corruption and economic uncertainty. This can be confirmed by any recognized institution on economic development or corruption ratings.
President Pervez Musharraf has saved this nation from a state of bankruptcy as well as political destabilization creating a path for democratic rule to return. As he stated in his speech post emergency, sometimes extra-constitutional measures need to be implemented to save the nation after which he quoted Abraham Lincoln who said the same after he had imposed measures outside the constitution. Think about it; afterall the constitution has been written by people as well and is not error-proof? That is exactly the job of the executive branch of goverment; to keep all bodies under control and when needed, to implement changes approved by the Parliament.
To sum, there is ABSOLUTEOLY no way Pakistan will tolerate return of lost leaders, esp. Benazir who has had a proven track record of failure in Pakistan. This is what the facts say from any economic or security world recognized agency. Please take the constitutional hat off, stop looking at the letter of the law for a second (since people created it) and look at who among the past years has driven prosperity and progress in to this nation.
""Bhutto is a master of rhetoric and hyperbole""
very truely said by the writer
Just a few thoughts!

1) In a country of 160 million why have the poilce / law enforcement agencies always out numbered BB's supporters?
2) There is a petition going around on the internet getting signatures - only 15000 have signed it

My point - BB does have support, but no where close to the claims.

Question - of the 3 (BB, Nawaz and Musharraf) - who would I trust - My choice would be Musharraf
54% of Pakistan's population is below 21.

Not all of them can vote (voters age is 18 years) but they can influence politics a lot.

They also watch independent media (thanks to Musharaf) and go on internet. They also chat and exchange short text messages on mobiles. (60 million connections)

As far as reception of BB in Karachi is concerned, poor were paid Rs.500 each to come to Airport.

BB is changing position so quickly that she is fast losing whatever credibility she had. She is only alive in media.

Imran Khan is getting more popular. He can be a very important person in coming politics if he could be just little less proud and stubborn with his party workers.. He needs to learn politics.

Thanks to capitalism and 7% growing economy, people have little time to worry about politics.
Why does the US want Musharraf out? Did he not give the US something they wanted?

Which moron in the US thought bringing Bhutto back was a good idea? Bhutto is not that popular, and has not been for a long time. This is like sending Chalabi back to Iraq - guess which moron thought that was smart too!
The most pressing issue in Pakistan is that Musharraf addiction to power is "ill-wish" and the world should act now instead.
What is the alternative if musharraf resigned? Mrs Bhutto had her round,she governed Pakistan before but no desired legacy to show for.History shows Pakistan has not produce a outstanding leader yet,anyway it never easy to govern the country considering the growing domestic problems.
Believe it or not.

Nastradams' "King of Terror" and Jeane Dison's "Prince of Peace" is the same person. Born on February
?5, 196? in ?????, educated in a western country, came to Pakistan in July 1999, as predicted by Nastradamus.

Current situation in Pakistan will take a big turn and then
HE WILL COME!!, sooner or later.

Just wait and see.
Bhutto is the darling of the west. The idea of a western educated woman standing upto a brutal dictator somewhat fires up the imagination of the west where it is somehow conveniently forgotten that she is an incompetent and corrupt leader.

On the other hand benazir has been doing a wonderful job potraying herself as the champion of democracy without any real justification!

Benazir may or may not be popular but she atleast does not force people to attend her rallies as the good general has done on numerous ocassions!
Media have been screaming about the emergency, could anyone tell me who had seen the democracy in Pakistan since 12th Oct 1999?

Pakistan has been ruled by one man show since 1999 and the rest of the people in the parliment are just the puppets playing on the tunes of President of Pakistan.

And the reason why people of Pakistan has accepted him, its all because they needed stability after what had been done by the former prime ministers of Pakistan since 1988.

I would like to ask Nawaz Shareef where's the funds gone he had collected from the PEOPLE of pakistan for paying back the loans?

And how about the Benazir? why she doesnt accept the reality that her husband always wanted to be the 10%parnter of any business a person starts.

And how about the killing of her brother? She is talking about the law and order in Pakistan today, how about the law and order when she was the prime minister and her brother got killed?

Does these two ex-prime ministers have answers to all these questions?

Educated generations of Pakistan knows very well what these people had done, then how could these two ex-prime ministers expect people to come out for them?
President Musharraf is not a military dictator. The entire private independent news media in Pakistan have let him down. Never before the news media that we hear and see existed 7 years ago until Musharraf took over. He invested enormous efforts to improve the international image of Pakistan. He promoted arts, culture, freedom of speech, expression, relations with neighbouring countries, increased foreign direct investment and much more to his credit. It is very naive of us as a nation to downgrade him to bits today. Emergency was the need of hour to bring control & improve the disoriented judiciary and the rise of terrorism. The news media clouds the ground realities always and extensively promotes hate literature in view of their own agendas. Bhutto and Shareef are no credible politicians that can save the nation from rising extremism by militants. Its evident in history how much Pakistan was looted during their regimes. I humbly request the US, UK and all to respect his stand and understand that Pakistan needs to be a democratic country but only controlled democracy can save the nation. Given uncontrolled democracy the existing political parties will openly contribute to more hate literature, anger, frustration, riots to acheive power for self-interest not national interest. Pakistan is in good hands as long as Musharaf stays in power.
I cannot understand why westren media is trying to push the idea that Bhutto is widley love by Pakistanis, Truth of the matter is she is not as popular as Westren Media makes it out to be. Pakistan poulation is about 160 million, how many people gather outside her house to protest her house arrest, no more than 250 peopel.
The Pakistanis do not have that short of memory , when it comes to Bhutto, we still remeber how her husband and her looted the country ,made mockry of law, her rule in Pakistan was thug rule, her husband and her party mebers got away with murder, litterly speaking.Pakistan was no more democratic than now, acutally their is more freedom now than their was before.
So please stop this, like she is the savior of Pakistan and democracy in Pakistan, She is nothing more than opertunist counting on Westren Media to potray like she was most loved leader of Pakistan, quiote frankly it is the opposite.
PS: When is CNN going to ask her a tough questin." like her credetability, her crook husbands influnce in goveerment durring her rule...Corruption charges, looting the goverment durring her rule.
Benazir Bhutto's rule in Pakistan was one of the worst in the history of this nation. Corruption was rampant down to any level in the society that one can imgaine. In all, since the so-called "democracy" was introduced in Pakistan, the nation has gone down the path of corruption and economic uncertainty. This can be confirmed by any recognized institution on economic development or corruption ratings.
President Pervez Musharraf has saved this nation from a state of bankruptcy as well as political destabilization creating a path for democratic rule to return. As he stated in his speech post emergency, sometimes extra-constitutional measures need to be implemented to save the nation after which he quoted Abraham Lincoln who said the same after he had imposed measures outside the constitution. Think about it; afterall the constitution has been written by people as well and is not error-proof? That is exactly the job of the executive branch of goverment; to keep all bodies under control and when needed, to implement changes approved by the Parliament.
To sum, there is ABSOLUTEOLY no way Pakistan will tolerate return of lost leaders, esp. Benazir who has had a proven track record of failure in Pakistan. This is what the facts say from any economic or security world recognized agency. Please take the constitutional hat off, stop looking at the letter of the law for a second (since people created it) and look at who among the past years has driven prosperity and progress in to this nation.
thers no denying the fact that BB does have alot of support in Pkaistan despite the fact that she has been charged and charged again with corruption but the secret to her popluarity lies in the fact that her father was liked by many ppl and most people only support her because of that, she is mostly popular amongst the poor and usually uneducated people who vote for her because they have seen their elders do that.while Imran KHan is probably leading the polls when it comes to pakistans educated society BB is definitely not a front runner there as most of the educated class are either not interested in politics or eif they are they believe that it is time for a change me being one of them
This article is 100% right & I am astonished to see that being an outsider, how accurate Dane Rivers'analysis is.
I strongly believe that there is a secret deal between Musharraf and Bhutto. They have both played their cards well, atleast Musharraf has. He imposed the State of Emergency at a time he knew everyone around would be powerless. When I say everyone I am referring to the western powers. I suggest USA stays out of this mess and let us see what happens by the end of January. It all seems like a very well planned game.
The majority of the middle classes are supporting Bhutto with such vigor because she is the only realistic choice left. We are being oppressed by a military dictator hell bent on prolonging his draconian policies. It's time that the masses of Pakistan rose against the group of thoroughly uneducated, incompetent generals who are destroying any remaining vestiges of normalcy in our society. And a lot of see Bhutto as being the only real alternative. We'll take democracy, albiet one riddled with corruption, over dictatorship any day!!!
There are two kinds of voters in Pakistan one Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) supporters and second are those who are against PPP. PPP was the largest vote’s getter in the last elections. All of the political parties in Pakistan have the same manifesto the only differentiating thing they talk about in their political speeches is that PPP is BAD vote for us. That’s what kind of support Ms Bhutto has.

Pakistanis have the choice to chose out of Mr. Nawaz Sharif who actually signed a deal with the General and saved his life and started a new business and a lavish life with his entire family and extended family living in Saudi Arabia. Or the ruling Kings party who has fake political figures who have no political roots. Or they have PPP who is the only political party with a completely distinct Foreign, Interior and Financial manifesto. That is why people came to welcome her I don’t care how many but they were more than how many went to receive Nawaz Sharif. They were definitely more than how many came to hear the General on May 12, 2007.

In all the past Pakistani elections turnout has always been low proving that majority of the countrymen believe that their votes don’t matter they don’t have confidence in the electoral process and they think that the army would take their elected leaders down when ever it pleases.

Fact is Ms Bhutto is popular that’s why people are willing to die for her and proven so. And for all those people who think that the Pakistani nation is not smart enough to chose their leader are biased and control freaks. Let the people rule themselves and the country will evolve into a better nation which it never got a chance to be!

If we would not be allowed to chose our leaders than there is no point in living in Pakistan we might follow the trail of all those Pakistanis living aboard being classified as Pakistani brain drain.
well she is maybe popular in sindh, but she is not really popular in punjab. And if she wants to win elections, she will need the support of Nawaz Sharif.

And i can really say, that if nawaz shariff is given a chance to compete in elections, he is going to win handsomely. And present Government knows it, thats why he is not allowed to return to Pakistan.
Bhutto is no where near as popular as when she was considered the successor of her father. She squandered her father's legacy by putting her hands in the nation's till. Courts in various Western Nations have pending cases of corruption against her. Until she can clear her name, which is highly unlikely considering she has magicked up a Multimillion pound Surrey Mansion in the UK and a skycraper in Dubai as property possessions. She should stop behaving like a hypocrite and bow out whilst she can.
People in power (now or before)never wanted to have stong "institutions" in Pakistan.
Nawaz Sharief & Banazir Bhutto played with judiciary, when they were in power and president Musaraf wants to have judiciary of his choice. Pakistan don't have any choice except proper democracy to move forward and all accountable to judiciary.
Bhutto would like the west to believe that she is popular. But she is not. She has been so corrupt in her not once but two, so called democratic governements that hopefully people remember that. Bhutto has always believed in telling so much lies and so often that people start believeing there is some truth in her.
Those who believes that Ms Bhutto is still popular among Pakistani people must be living in fools paradise. As action speaks louder than words, we all know her past , all the proven corruption charges, mass unlawfull killings in karachi, even her own brother got killed during her government and who is going to forget how she came back to Pakistan after having an illegal deal with Musharaf. I hope Pakistani people don't have this bad memories.
I think Benazir Bhutto is a hypocrit, a cheat and a liar. She has presided over Pakistan twice and didnt do a damn thing for the country. Why does she think people of Pakistan will vote for her once again when they have been burnt twice by her corrupt idealogy. I think she should just return to wherever she came from and continue living on the millions of dollars she stole from Pakistan.
Benazir Bhutto is very popular among the anti-status quo cross-section of the population, mainly concentrated in the major urban centers as well as in rural Sindh province. Her popularity is much less in rural Punjab province, where most of the population lies. She has more support in Southern Punjab though.

I think that she can still win the majority of National Assembly seats as long as the other populist politician, Nawaz Sharif, is kept out of the running. He commands a lot of support in rural Punjab, as well as in urban Punjab.

I don't think that 'dealing' with Musharraf has eroded her credibility at all. In fact, Musharraf is quite popular himself, despite his string of blunders. But Musharraf is increasingly seen as the intransigent one, rather than Benazir.

Whatever his other failings, if Musharraf can successfully counter and eliminate militancy from taking over some areas of Pakistan, he will revive his falling popularity. I think he will be able to counter the militant threat and retain his leadership role successfully.

I don't expect either Benazir Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif to be able to capitalize on their mass popularity and to convert it into a successful return to government.
Please stop this Musharraf- bashing. He is the best choice for Pakistan at the moment. We are sick and tired of all the other old, tried and tested and corrupt politicians.
Benazir has realized that she is not as popular as she has projected herself to be in the western media. She is afraid that she will most likely lose the elections and has accordingly boycotted them. Her father also refused to accept the election results in his time and this resulted in the amputation of Pakistan's east wing. Now she is on a war path and does not care about what happens to Pakistan in the process.
I am a Pakistani living in Karachi.

I think that B Hutoo & her husband are corrupt & rotten to the core. However if fair elections are held her party will win as she is popular with the poor people.

My feeling - let elections be held fairly and start the democratic process. Military dictatorship is not the answer.

In 1980's General Zia Ul Haq was in power. He was a dictator who supported the most hard-line clerics. In his visions of a true Islamic society he made discriminatory laws against women and religious minorities. He funded religious fundamentalists & clerics which turned our society more close minded and xenophobic. And yet the American government pumped in money and arms to support him because he stood against the evil empire (Soviets).
Later on these Islamic warriors turned against the West and the chickens have come home to roost for both Pakistan and USA.
Now USA is supporting another military dictator as he their ally in the "war on terror". Must the same mistakes be made again and again?
Bhutto is a popular personality in Pakistan and she is the only figure who do not indulged herself in a secret deal. Remember in civilized socities negotiations are considered good.

I think the west should start supporting democracy rather than backing dictators and therocrats in Pakistan. It will not only be better for Pakistanis but for the international community.
This all is a drama. Right from the top /(Supreme justice)to the bottom, everybody is divided and belongs to a political party. Nobody is interested in democracy. With so many problems overhead, everyone in Pakistan is seeking a way out to earn riches. All are thieves. Musharraf is much better than other alternatives. Atleast he is there facing the opposition and not planting bombs. All others can plant, what he did not.
Pakistan President Musharaf shuts down GEO TV & ARY One (independent Pakistani TV Channels) operating from Dubai. He applied pressure on Govt. of Dubai to take this action. This is a dark day for independence of press and media. GEO & ARY ONE was providing valuable new analysis and political talk shows for the benefit of people of Pakistan. Their coverage was fair and balanced. It was the first time in 60 years history of Pakistan when ordinary people were getting real news around the country. Media was on the move to bring silent revolution. CNN must support GEO and ARY and give more coverage to this news.
Benizer Bhutto is not as much popular as her famous husband Mr.10%.They stole millions of dollars Pakistani tax payers money and lived like roylaties in different countries of the world.There still an open money loundry case in Swiss court against them.They can buy poor people by spending few millions dollars stolen money to buy popularity.If she is very popular in the eyes of Peoples of Pakistan then she should start getting ready for a peaceful election.She knows she can not be be the Prime Minister of Pakistan third time bacause of Pakistan constitution.So she is trying to desteblize the present goverment with help of Washington and demanding reverse all pending cases against her and her husband and an amendement in the Pakistan Constitution so she could become third term Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Dear CNN
Pakistan biggest problum is Taliban
in Swat.Pakistan is at war against islamic exterimist .People have been slautered left to right by Talibans. Army is trying to defend Pakistan borders and we are talking agaist army.It is wake up call for people of Pakistan Take your flag in your hand and fly as much high as you can and support your troopes.Stop talking about election we need Musharraf now.
Pakistan have many educated scholars and able minded people who can be party leaders and lead this country into a brighter future. Unfortunately the power hungry such as Benazir and Nawaz sharif just cannot let go their ego. They both have been given chances, more than once, to show what they could do. They both failed, they both looted the country and placed it on a path of disastor. It seems until they die they will not let go the Prime Minister office. Why does Benazir Bhutto want to be a PM again, why not someone else from her party, why not give chance to other deserving able people rather than bringing back the same corrupt failed ones. Soniya Gandhi did it in India, may be she needs to teach a few things to the corrupt Bhutto about how to run party politics in the interest of the Nation. US and UK must ignore Benazir, as it was under her watch when Pakistan provided N Korea with missile technology. She cannot be trusted again, not by the Pakistani people and most certainly not by the US. We need a moderate like Musharraf who can stand up to the extremist not cozy up to them. Benazir and Nawaz are the mistakes of the past and cannot be repeated.

I think US does not have a policy on Pakistan .. US has Musharraf policy... indiavidual centered policy thy think he is man with who they can do business with i think 7 years is long time to understand this .. General too knows this and takes everone to surprise by these kind or actions .. to be honest i think tehcnically there is Emergency for only judiciary / media and political parties ... all his ministeres are in place... he is playing around to save his own skin.. US should move on now and think at looking at pakistan without general ... hope white house is reading this ...

sudheer mopperthy
Benazir Bhutto doesn't seems to be popular in Pakistan at present. Her poor performance during two terms in power, self imposed exile, very delayed and cold reaction to judiciary issues and recent power sharing deal with Musharaf seems enough to lessen her popularity.

I wonder why US policy makers overestimated and politically invested in her. During her years in exile, ground realities have changed in Pakistan. People have become more educated politically and expect much more than slogans from their national leaders. I will not be surprised if relatively new players like Imran Khan gain momentum to fill this political vacum.
First of all i would like to make it clear that i am not a big fan of Gen. Musharaff and have serious differences on the foreign policies as well as the domestic policies, but inspite of all that I support him and stand behind him the reason being simple enough, Pakistan at this point has no alternative, Ms. Bhutto the most corrupt Prime minister in the history of Pakistan is definitely not the alternative, some one said in the comments that her ratings are “Underestimated’ I am sorry but the truth is she is always ‘OVERrated’, In her tenure Pakistan had the worst law and order situation, Corruption was at its peak, all the aids and loads from IMF, world bank and other similar organizations were not distilled to the public and social projects but were used to buy lands in foreign countries (for themselves that is), there are Corruption cases on Ms. Bhutto in Switzerland and else where, the main suspect in the murder of her OWN brother is her HUSBAND ( MR. 10% as ppl remember him), the list is endless and I am just amazed that she has the guts to come back again to eye for another term.

Ms. Bhutto will be the destabilizing factor, considering the future of Pakistan, and if I have to choose between WORSE or WORST … I would go for Worse and that’s is why I stand behind my president. Pakistan Zindabad

Ahmed Zohaib
Male' Maldives
Butto/Nawaz are legend in their own mind...Pakistan need a change from dictatorship and corrupt recycled leaders.
Ms. Bhutto is nothing but a strom in a Cup of Tea. She is only popular among Thugs, Corrupts, and the West.
The question to be asked is whether the west wants or not a democracy for us (pakistanis), a democracy they enjoy themselves?
Who gives the right to rule to a corrupt nuke selling army even if benazir is not popular?
By the way Pakistan peoples party has been the single largest party for all previous elections held even been in opposition of army dictators.
I am against all dictators, even the ones that the US selectively supports; I am also against corrupt governments. Everyone is aware of the back-hand that the Bhuttos received from SGS, a Swiss inspection company, for a PSI contract woth several million dollars. Neither party has suffered anything much from this scandal. How can we support such corrupt people to lead us??

Benazir Bhutto is not very populer. She is just cashing the name of her father. Her father is the person who has done so much for the poor of this country that they are still waiting for the same person in his daughter.
Ms Bhutto she is just “Darling of the West” folks in the west see a nice lady with a innocent face and believe her to be the victim and actually falling for the con but the ground politics is much more twisted in Pakistan whenever a person tries to set things right he is faced with huge challenges and this is the situation Pakistan is in Musharraf is trying to set things right once and for all but the others don't want that because that could be the end of there good old times where everything was easy and they could cash out whenever they wanted but now things are changing and they don't like this fact, and about having Elections in reality she is the one who doesn’t want elections in Pakistan because she hasn’t got the Voters to win it and she is trying to avoid it at all costs one option is to create chaos in the country and not letting the elections Happen or Just Boycotting the elections so she doesn’t have to face the shame caused by loosing the elections.and the lawyers are just part of this corrupt justice system at least it was corrupt until now i hope things will change, these Lawyers were used to forced to go to Protests by the Lawyers Bar or they would have there membership suspeded
No one in Pakistan can say that she is popular,reason being she gathers people by purchasing them &paying them RS1000 PER DAY.(AUTHENTIC PROOF CAN BE PROVIDED ON REQUEST.UNEDUCATED /UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE ARE BEING PURCHASED BY HER SUPPORTES .She has financially ruined PAKISTAN,Honestly wish that USA ,should try to solve their own problem at home , rather than supporting Miss Bhutto, who is defintely a culprit,her Father was a dictator, &she during her period of Prime Minister did not show any proof that she believes in democracy.Wish that she should contest election &time will prove it how much she is popular,reason being this time people will take money from her,but defintely will not cast the vote for her,a research work carried &the results can be faxed to you on request.
Benazir Bhutto has partisan support from her feudal supporters. During her misrule corruption was widespread and the country brought to a near economic ruin. Hope she doesn't return to power.
the question is that is musharaff unpopular enough to get bhutto the leadership of pakistan??????
What I dont understand is why Benazir (and the west) keep talking about Musharraf having violated the constitution (and how wrong that is), and then expects to be elected as prime minister for a third under the same consitution which states that a one person CANNOT serve a third term!

I just feel that she took advantage of Musharraf and had corruption charges aginst her dropped, and now that she feels safe, is trying to flex her muscle (or whatever she has) and show she has power.....
What I dont understand is why Benazir (and the west) keep talking about Musharraf having violated the constitution (and how wrong that is), and then expects to be elected as prime minister for a third under the same consitution which states that a one person CANNOT serve a third term!

I just feel that she took advantage of Musharraf and had corruption charges aginst her dropped, and now that she feels safe, is trying to flex her muscle (or whatever she has) and show she has power.....
Elections in Pakistan dont mean democracy and Military doesnt mean marshallah. We never had democracy in Pakistan and will never have until we make a critical intervention - land reforms, zhich happened in India in 1948.

All the elections are always won by the same people or their families - WHY? Because 60% of Pakistanis (100 million people) live under feudal landlords system i;e landlord is the ultimate decision maker for thier day to day life. At election times all these landlords stand for elections and are simply elected from their respective areas as no person in their area dare vote against them. Free and fair elections and democracy only becomes a joke given this reality - to which western world and media take to so seriously. Please, for heavens sake, look at the realities of Pakistan before imposing your theoretical idelogies. For Pakistanis there are only two options - Military rule or Feudal Rule! For my part i chose militaty rule for now - but the interesting part is WHO CARES!!!
Pakistanis are generally moderate,peace-loving,and tolerant people.They have been denied their basic rights through military dictatorships for over 50 years in their total 60 years of nationhood.This has made them disillousioned about their future.
Moreover so-called democratic political leaders have been bred and nourished by military establishment.Javed Nizam
She has a history of being extremely opportunistic where she has "back stabbed" if you will, her allies in the name of democracy.
I have noticed though that the western media finds her extremely charming and have the tendency to portray her as the savior of Pakistan. Unfortunately they were not around when her and her husband almost sucked the country dry of its resources and all her anti Pakistan statements after she imposed "self exile" (read as went into hiding after a robbery).
Pakistan does need a democratically elected government, unfortunately the present choices arnt in the best interest of the country.
Please note that Bhutto needs to face charges of corruption against her. No one can be so disgustingly rich while being honest. If she was so good why was she such a hopeless failure before. People of Pakistan are not stupid, those who support her are benefitting from her patronage and largess when she is in power. In all the pictures you notice that not one single educated person supports her except for those whole loyalties can be bought for a few dollars. Musharraf is at least more honest than her. He needs to be supported with more money and Aid as at least he is taking the country in the right path. Every one else has faied before so why try them again and expect a DIFFERENT RESULT.
Nobody claimed that Bhutto was popular in Pakistan in general. I am, however, claiming that she is more popular than Musharaf and that even if she wasn't, she now is. Otherwise, why would he imprison her, her supporters?
Your original question lacks basic analysis in that we cannot measure her popularity in Pakistan if her supporters are locked up, beaten, or driven into hidding for their dear lives. Does your question suggest that Musharaf, the dictator who is muddering his own people is popular? CNN ought to condemn Musharaff. We all ought to condemn dictators everywhere, otherwise, we have no credibility to condemn those in Mynmar (Burma), while congratulating the one in Pakistan. We ought to look into history and learn lessons from supporting dictators instead of the people and institutions. I would refer you to Ted Koppel's that he so elloquently presented on NPR yesterday, where he did a good job, with analogies to Iran under the Shah, etc.
I hope there's free and fair elections acceptable to the people of Pakistan, not CNN.
Dr. Andrew Davavid Musila.
When ur not stopped when u leave out the door it means we dont want you anymore, as simple as it sounds its not understood by Benazir Bhutto.
The people of pakistan have had it with Nawaz or Bhutto , we r sattisfied with Musharaf or whole pakistan would be on the streets getting him to leave out of the door. Aint happening is it, so why ask questions when asnwers are known.

Democracy is fine but not in Pakistan at the moment.We do not want extremists and Musharraf is the only one who can fight them off.Benazir is a corrupt person and her party has a popularity only because of her father.I am sure ZA Bhutto did not make millions like she has.
Bhutto is the most corrupt leader Pakistan has had. During her reign as Prime Minister Pakistan was the 2nd most corrupt country behind Nigeria.

Musharraf is the best leader Pakistan has had in decades. For the first time in many years Pakistan's economy has been booming and poverty has been declining. Jobs are being created, western media outlets are on TV, security is better and the country is doing better as a whole.

The world needs to understand that Musharraf is not a military dictator. He is a leader that is trying to restore NON-corrupt democracy to his nation. The people that support Bhutto and Sharif are the people that will benefit greatly from the corruption they will cause.

If Bhutto wants to run for Prime Minister then she should be ordered to give back the millions of dollars she has stolen from Pakistan government.
There is hope that the election will be held within the scheduled date. The competition between Mr.Nawaz and Ms. Bhutto would be a toughmost one ever precedented.

Whereas, Ms. Bhutto is believed in a deal with the Government expecting much of its support. So, despite Nawaz's top popularity, as per political experts' guess, neither of the two may win.

Only the third, President Pervez Musharraf's favourite one, the recent Government group, would take full benefit of the fight imposed.
Neither of the two ex-PMs would excel in the so called January election, as per opinions of the oppositions and critics till the helmsmanship of the country remains in the hands of the present dictatorial Government directly or indirectly and General Pervez Mushrraf as the head.
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