Last weekend, the military ruler of Pakistan, General Zia-ul-Haq, postponed the general election that was to have taken place later this month.
Last weekend, the military ruler of Pakistan, General Zia-ul-Haq, postponed the general election that was to have taken place later this month. He said that to hold it would be to risk a new political crisis, and that charges against leading politicians must first be heard by the courts. The people have taken the postponement calmly; though leaders of the Pakistan National Alliance, who were hoping for victory, have said they are disappointed and that the postponement was not necessary.
SYNOPSIS: The trouble in Pakistan began when Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto the last Prime Minster, won a massive victory in general elections in March. He was sworn in for a new term of office; but his opponents accused him of rigging the election. Protest demonstrations and strikes of violence in the principal cities and towns.
In Rawalpindi, the demonstrators had planned a march to Mr. Bhutto's house, but were stopped by police. Karachi, Hyderabad and Lahore were put under martial law. Altogether, put 350 people were killed.
Mr. Bhutto held talks with the opposition, led by Maulana Mufti Mahmud, and finally agreed to new elections. But the opposition were not satisfied.
Then, on July 5th, the Army, led by the Chief of Staff, General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, took control. General Zia announced that martial law had been imposed. The people heard that political activity was banned and harsh new penalties in for law-breaking.
The General promised to hold new elections within three months, and to release the political leaders who had been arrested.
Mr. Bhutto, who are released from detention with the other party leaders, later appeared in court charged with abducting a political rival. He was granted bail on this charge, but re-arrested a few days later. Other charges, including high treason, corruption and conspiracy to murder, are also pending. General Zia has said the courts must deal with these charges must deal with these charges before an election can be held.
Mr. Bhutto's family led the campaign for the Pakistan People's Party when the election campaign got under way last month. His wife said the military seemed determined to keep him out of the election. The other main group, the Pakistan National Alliance, were encouraged by the charges against Mr. Bhutto and had high hopes of winning the election.
But for the meantime, General Zia and his military council remain in military council remain in control in Pakistan. The elections are now not expected to take place for at lest another six months.