On Eve of Elections, Freedom House Calls on Pakistan's Leaders to Reject Violence | Freedom House

On Eve of Elections, Freedom House Calls on Pakistan's Leaders to Reject Violence

Washington, D.C.
Regardless of the specific outcomes of Pakistan’s elections on Monday, the effort to build a genuine democratic system will require an inclusive national dialogue on the way forward that brings together major leaders of society, Freedom House said today.

“No matter what the election results are, it is vital that opposition leaders, as well as members of the current government, resolve their differences nonviolently, via discussion, compromise and the rule of law,” said Jennifer Windsor, executive director of Freedom House. “The very future of Pakistan is at stake.  A violent reaction to the election results on either side could lead to increased civil conflict and chaos. The alternative is dialogue before it is too late.”

The posture of all sides on the election’s eve is disquieting.  Opposition parties have pledged mass disruption if they do not win, while President Pervez Musharraf has said that protests will not be tolerated. 

The electoral environment has been seriously flawed in numerous ways – most egregiously by the unconstitutional dismissal of judges who have served as responsible voices for the rule of law,  as well as by the significant limits on press freedom that were institutionalized in December 2007.

“Elections, even credible elections, are but a part of the democratic process,” noted Ms. Windsor.  “A broader consensus on the rules of the game, and the strengthening of the institutional pillars of democracy, are necessary, too.  An outbreak of violence would make all this much, much more difficult to achieve.  Pakistan’s people deserve responsible leadership that will knit the country together rather than tear it asunder.” 

Pakistan is ranked Not Free in the 2008 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House’s survey of political rights and civil liberties, as well as in the 2007 version of Freedom of the Press.

For more information on Pakistan, visit:

Freedom in the World 2007: Pakistan
Freedom of the Press 2007:  Pakistan

Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Pakistan since 1972.

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