=> ISLAMABAD: As civil society puts its act together
ISLAMABAD: As civil society puts its act together and organises public opposition to President Pervez Musharraf in London, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has implored British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to tell Musharraf that free and fair elections will be impossible without the full restoration of Pakistan’s judiciary.
In Pakistan, the lawyer community after a break has come back on the streets to protest and demand the restoration of sacked judges and freeing senior members of the legal fraternity as Musharraf plans to meet Brown on Monday.
“The British government has long ignored Musharraf’s systematic political repression in exchange for dubious cooperation in the ‘war on terror’ and hollow promises on free and fair elections,” said Brad Adams, the Human Rights Watch Asia Director.
“Prime Minister Brown should tell President Musharraf that the UK will no longer tolerate his abusive policies.”According to a statement, in the lead-up to the February 18 elections, Human Rights Watch has investigated extensive media censorship, disruption of opposition party activities, bias among election officials and pre-poll rigging in favour of Musharraf-backed candidates.
“An independent judiciary is vital for people to have an avenue to contest the results of this election conducted in an environment of bias and intimidation,’’ said Adams. Human Rights Watch urged Brown to press Musharraf to rescind these measures, seek an independent election commission and a neutral caretaker government to oversee elections.
“Brown should tell Musharraf to immediately release the detained judges and lawyers,” Adams said and added, “The UK’s notable failure to press for the reinstatement of an independent judiciary is alienating Pakistanis at Britain’s expense.”
Human Rights Watch reiterated its call for the UK’s Scotland Yard to withdraw from a flawed Pakistani investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Bhutto. The government inquiry lacks independence, transparency and credibility among the Pakistani population, the Rights Watch said.
Source: The News