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Feb 15, 2008 at 09:52pm IST

Mush aide caught talking of rigging elections

New Delhi: From PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari to former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the refrain has been common to both — these elections will be rigged.

And now, a US-based NGO has made a damaging revelation. The Human Rights Watch has an audio recording of a phone call made on November 21, which has the Attorney General of Pakistan, Malik Qayyum, admitting to a journalist that the elections will be "massively rigged".

The NGO claims to have taken time to authenticate the audio.

Malik Qayyum, who is a Musharraf confidant, is not just talking of rigging on the phone to the journalist, but also says he thinks that Nawaz Sharif would do well not to take part in this election.

This is the transcript of the phone call:

Malik Qayyum: "Leave Nawaz Sharif. I think Nawaz Sharif will not take part in the election. If he does take part, he will be in trouble. If Benazir takes part she too will be in trouble. They will massively rig to get their own people to win. If you can get a ticket from these guys, take it. If Nawaz Sharif does not return himself, then Nawaz Sharif has some advantage. If he comes himself, even if after the elections rather than before....yes."

Even as the storm broke, Qayyum dismissed the recording as nonsense and said he had never spoken those words.

Shortly after the Election Commission announced the polling schedule, the Human Rights Watch also said it had tried to contact Malik Qayyum but he never responded.

Nawaz Sharif on his part is sure that the elections are going to be rigged. This is what he had said when CNN-IBN interviewed him: "Mr Musharraf is all set to rig the elections. The rigging process has already started. My papers were rejected not by the Election Commission but by Mr Musharraf himself."

Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari are meeting on Saturday to discuss this issue, but the latest revelation will do little to inspire confidence in the credibility and fairness of Monday's voting.

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