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ALLIANCE FOR THE RESTORATION OF DEMOCRACY (ARD)

ALLIANCE FOR THE RESTORATION OF DEMOCRACY (ARD) In keeping with Pakistan’s turbulent political history in which various political groups formed alliances to deal with a particular situation rather than evolve permanent mechanisms for ensuring coordination among diverse political groups, several political parties formed the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy on 4 April 2001 to challenge the military’s rule under General Pervez Musharraf The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Sharif Group) PML(N) were the main components of the ARD The group was reminiscent of earlier political entities, such as the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) that had been formed to challenge the rule of President Zia ul-Haq, Pakistan’s third military president (1977-1988) The absence from the country of Benazir Bhutto, the chairperson of the PPP, and Mian Nawaz Sharif, the most prominent leader in PML(N), made it difficult for the ARD to become an effective organization or to provide a platform that could be shared by the main opposition parties Serious differences emerged between the two parties following talks between the senior representatives of the PPP and the Musharraf government The PPP seemed willing to support Musharraf’s continuation as president provided the pending cases of corruption against Benazir Bhutto were withdrawn and she was allowed to take part in political activities However, the PML(N) was opposed to talks with the government unless General Musharraf took off his uniform, restored the 1973 Constitution to its original form, and constituted an independent election commission The most active leaders of the ARD were Raja Zafarul Haq, the chairman of the PML(N), and Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the leader of the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) After remaining dormant for several months, the ARD began to actively agitate against the government in the fall of 2005, following local elections that were held over a period of several weeks in August and September The governing PML did well in the elections, at the expense of both the PPP and the PML(N)



The candidates who had the support of the government also did well against the candidates sponsored by the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, the coalition of six religious parties Various opposition parties and groups accused the government of election rigging, and ARD threatened to withdraw its candidates from the provincial assemblies unless the government agreed to hold fresh elections

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