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US senator warns of violence if Pak polls rigged

A top US Democrat claims President Pervez Musharraf would do all he can to keep two major opposition parties from gaining an absolute majority.
By HT Correspondent | PTI, Washington
UPDATED ON FEB 16, 2008 01:13 PM IST

Ahead of Pakistan's general elections, a top US Democrat has claimed that President Pervez Musharraf would do all he can to keep two major opposition parties from gaining an absolute majority and warned of street violence if the polls were found to be rigged.

"I think Musharraf will do what he can to keep the Pakistan People's Party or (Nawaz) Sharif's party from gaining an absolute majority. But I would be very surprised and incredibly concerned if he rigged it in a way that essentially allowed his party, which is mildly dysfunctional, to be perceived as having won," Senator Jospeh Biden, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said.

"So, my guess is they're not going to go out of their way to be fair and transparent, but where they can get away with something, I think he would be inclined to. But whether they'll make a wholesale run on actually discrediting the other two major parties, I don't think he'll (Musharraf) do that," the top Democrat from Delaware said.

He said that Musharraf has a realisation that his hold on the army is a hell of a lot more shaky than it was when he wore the military uniform and a full-blown rigging of this election would cause real physical unrest on the street.

"I'm not sure that Musharraf is willing to gamble that the army would actually turn around and do what would probably have to be done to control it," Biden said.

Biden along with other top lawmakers in the Senate and the House of Representatives including Senators John Kerry and Chuck Hagel will observe the Pakistani vote on Monday.

He argued that given the ways things are going he would rather have USD 1 billion pumped into Afghanistan than on the other side of the border.

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