The majority of Pakistan’s voters expect the upcoming February 18 election to be rigged, reports McClatchy Newspapers.
Doubts are widespread, with only 15 percent of voters expecting the poll to be fair.
Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister, told reporters that he expects the election to be a “farce,” but predicted extremely low results for Pervez Musharraf, his longtime rival and the military-backed incumbent.
Musharraf, meanwhile, insisted that the elections would be fair, but said that there would be problems if political parties don’t accept the outcome.
Although analysts predict a strong “sympathy vote” for the party of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, campaigning has been low-key due to fears of political violence and terrorism.
Journalist Zahid Hussain told McClatchy that Sharif is more concerned with harnessing negative public reaction following the election, to create conditions that could force Musharraf from office and spur a new vote in the next year.
“Political gloom surrounds Pakistan as vote nears”
McClatchy Newspapers, February 5, 2008