[JURIST] Two major Pakistani lawyers' groups are pressing efforts to encourage a boycott of the country's January 8 general elections, Pakistan's Post daily reported [text] Saturday. Joining ousted Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry's call for opposition political parties to boycott the elections [JURIST report], the Supreme Court Bar Association (SBCA) and the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) lauded Friday's announcement [KT report] by the ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the All Democratic Parties Movement [Wikipedia backgrounder] to do so, and are planning to have representatives meet with Pakistan People's Party chairperson and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto [official website; JURIST news archive] to urge her to do the same. Echoing Chaudhry's call, SCBA vice president Ghulam Nabi Bhatti said that transparent and fair elections were impossible given the state of emergency rule [JURIST news archive] imposed by President Pervez Musharraf in early November.
Pakistani cricket all-star turned politician and Movement for Justice [party website] party leader Imran Khan publicly criticized Bhutto's decision to run Saturday, telling Reuters [report] before addressing a lawyers' meeting that "It is a complete case of betrayal...Every day she says there is pre-poll rigging, every day she says there can't be free and fair elections. She says she doesn't trust the caretakers, she says the emergency is illegal...And yet she is participating and legitimising the whole process." Meanwhile the president of the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (Q) [party website] Chaudri Shujaat Hussain downplayed lawyers' concerns over the judiciary which are fueling the boycott drive, saying they are peripheral to the central issues Pakistanis are concerned with - basic life necessities and employment - and that politicians supporting the boycott would just be hurting their own interests. APP has more.