Gilani: U.S. Only Supporting Dictators in Pakistan; Taliban Pact Under Strain
The United Nations and Afghanistan’s main rights body have called on Taliban fighters to take part in the country’s forthcoming presidential elections rather than attack the polls.
Despite its calls on Sunday for greater participation, the Afghan human rights commission also expressed concern that there could be widespread voter fraud.
Sima Samar, the chairwoman of the rights body, said that her concerns stemmed from the high number of women registered to vote.
“The men are just bringing the names of a woman and getting registration cards on their behalf and that is why I can say there is a possibility of fraud,” she said.
But Samar’s comments, and those of Kai Eide, who heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, were mainly aimed at encouraging people, including Taliban members, to take part in the August 20 presidential ballot.
Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban’s fugitive leader, has called on Afghans to boycott the polls.
“It is important to stretch out a hand and say it’s better to compete at the ballot boxes than fight on the battlefield,” Eide said.
Samar said: “I expect that every Afghan, where ever they are, even in the districts under the control of the enemies of Afghanistan, takes part in the elections.” >>>
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has accused the US administrations of only supporting the military dictators in the violence-hit Asian country.
Gilani told a news conference in the southern port city of Karachi that Washington tolerated former military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf’s “non-democratic regime” for nine years.
The premier went on to say that merely twelve months had lapsed since his civilian government came into power, claiming not enough time had passed to judge its performance.
His remarks come after head of US Central Command General David Petraeus warned that the Islamabad government risked collapse if Taliban militants were not defeated within the next two weeks.
Gilani emphasized the strength of his government saying that state institutions were functioning “effectively” despite Taliban insurgency.
Senior officials in Islamabad have repeatedly criticized Washington for its unwise policies which they maintain have led to the spread of extremism and the strengthening of the Taliban in Pakistan.
The Taliban in Pakistan has beheaded two government officials in Swat valley in the North West Frontier Province – revenge for the killing of two commanders, police say.
The announcement was made as Pakistani authorities appealed on Sunday to Taliban fighters to lay down their weapons.
The government said the establishment of the higher appellate court for Islamic law, or Dar-ul-Qaza, announced by the NWFP authorities on Saturday, fulfils the final part of a deal demanded by the Taliban in exchange for peace.
The creation of the sharia court was among the demands of theTehrik Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi, a group led by Sufi Muhammad, an influential local religious leader.
The court will have jurisdiction over the Malakand division, which includes Swat, Dir and Buner – the scene of recent fighting between the Taliban and government forces.
An initial deal signed in February, allowing the Taliban to enforce its own interpretation of sharia in Malakand in exchange for peace, has failed to end hostilities. >>>
Taliban militants in Pakistan’s northern Swat valley were refusing to lay down their arms on Sunday as part of an agreement with authorities in the country’s North-West Frontier Province, prompting fears of fresh fighting between the two sides.
As the regional government said it was fulfilling its side of the controversial deal, by setting up an Islamic Sharia appellate court for the area, a senior government official argued the Taliban’s refusal to disarm had put the patience of authorities “at great stress”.
He added “we can’t bend over backwards endlessly” in an apparent reference to growing criticism in the west that Pakistan has appeased the Taliban. >>>
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