Islamabad, Feb 27 : Former head of the internal wing of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has said that "political management" had dominated the 2002 general election.
Major General (retired) Ehtasham Zamir admitted that the ISI had played a role in persuading "like-minded politicians" to support President Pervez Musharraf.
"Of course, in the political management you were there. That is why the people termed it pre-poll rigging. If the political management what the ISI was doing prior to the election by arranging the people of similar ideology or similar mindset so that was there, " Ehtasham Zamir said.
He conceded that whatever the ISI was doing before the 2002 elections was not "purely constitutional".
"Pre-election manipulations are one form of rigging. The rigging is a network used for support and manipulation. That is why the people call it pre-poll manipulation or the support, which you extend prior to the polls," he told Dawn News.
"Thereafter, if you get involved in manipulations, bargaining or something else other than the norms of democracy, that would also be rigging," Zamir said.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Q was, in the eye of opponents, the "biggest beneficiary of pre-poll rigging" in 2002.
It emerged as the single largest party in the National Assembly and with the support of other "like-minded" candidates, formed a pro-Musharraf government.
But it was not as simple as that. After the ouster of Nawaz Sharif on October 12, 1999, the intelligence agencies set about to tear apart the PML-Nawaz and the People's Party. The aim was to make the sailing smooth for Musharraf.
He said the ISI was one of the tools used in "pre-poll and post-poll arrangements".
After the elections, the Q-League emerged as the largest party in the National Assembly with some 130 seats. But it was still short of the required number of 172 MNAs to form government.
The Dawn quoted Zamir as saying that the ISI had no role in the "post-poll phase of manipulations".