‘Pakistani government can't guarantee election safety’
RT:Almost daily we've seen deadly bomb blasts
targeting political party offices and candidates. Can the security
forces guarantee voter safety tomorrow at the polling
Eugene Puryear: I think they most certainly can’t guarantee that. I mean, they’ve been deploying a massive amount of people up to 600,000 security personnel. But we’ve seen over the past period of the campaign and even before that, that the Pakistani government has not been able to offer security solutions that are definite in any way in any part of the country.
RT:Why couldn't the government postpone the polls?
EP: Obviously, postponing the polls for the Pakistani government would be a major setback. This is the first democratic transition, which the country will actually have. And I think ultimately going forward with the polls is an important part of showing, in fact democracy in Pakistan is a real thing and certainly there is only a caretaking government in place now. And so to not extend what would essentially be an undemocratic technocratic force.
RT:The Taliban's been making a huge effort to undermine the vote. Do you think they've been effective?
EP: I think the Taliban has certainly done quite a bit to destabilize the election. I think that the most successful thing in terms of their campaign has been the fact, that both candidates have discussed the issue of severing the security relationship with the US, which at least in part is very central to the struggle of the Taliban inside Pakistan and what they are looking to do. So, how much they will impact the average voter in their ability to come out – we’ll just have to see on Saturday. But certainly their policies and their military campaign has, at least so it seems, affected the way the issues have been debated by the major parties.
RT:The leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N party which is expected to clinch victory, promises to pullout of the US war on terror, should it take power. How realistic is this?
EP: I think potentially it could be done. And certainly Sharif, when he was a Prime Minister before, presided over the two nuclear tests that resulted in a significant downgrading of relations with the US and economic sanctions. So, Sharif can claim that he has the fortitude to stand up to the US, but given the significant amount of support inaugurated for Pakistan, I mean I believe there’s a hundred million dollars provided by the US just to help Pakistan secure their nuclear arsenal. Obviously the ability from Pakistan to gain lending from the IMF, it will require a tremendous amount of effort, because Pakistan will have to refocus and rebalance both its economic and its security policies almost 180 degrees from what they have been since 2001, when Pakistan was more or less brought in from the code by the US. So, certainly it’s possible, but either party and certainly whether Sheriff will really have the 42 and the desire to carry this through – I think is yet to be seen.
RT:Meanwhile a Pakistani court has declared US drone strikes in the country illegal. Will that message be considered across the Atlantic?
EP: I think it is a message that will certainly be considered across the Atlantic. It’s a sign of a growing opposition in Pakistan and to a lesser degree in Yemen, in fact even inside the US against the US drone policy. And certainly to have such a high court say that the US drone strikes should end immediately just continues to add fuel to a fire that is raging around the world about its secretive illegal criminal campaign being waged by the United States government. Obviously, they have no intention of stopping their drone campaign, but certainly I think it has to be an item of interest for them.