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    Pakistan National Elections 2013

    I thought it would be a good idea to have a thread covering events in the lead-up to, and during, the Pakistani elections currently scheduled for May 11, 2013.

    Starting off with this article from Time:

    Pakistan’s Election Season Begins With Two Very Different Candidates


    By Omar Waraich / LahoreMarch 25,

    Pakistan’s election campaign kicked off at the weekend with a massive political rally led by Lahore’s best-known celebrity — plus the surprise return to the country by a former military ruler. On Saturday, Imran Khan drew an impressive crowd of around 150,000 people in Lahore. And in Karachi the next day, ex-President Pervez Musharraf returned to Pakistan after four years in self-imposed exile, hazarding a journey that offers few political rewards — and carries real risks to his life.

    The Khan rally in Lahore was the closest Pakistani politics gets to a rock concert. The festive mood was apparent throughout the many clogged arteries that led to the venue, the landmark Minto Park in city’s old quarter. Young men were crammed on top of brightly painted buses, whooping with joy, waving party flags and swaying to their blare of their music. A group of drummers roused pedestrians with quick-paced bhangra rhythms.

    They were drawn from all over the country through a well-financed and heavily advertised campaign. But they were also drawn, they said, by a simple yet nebulous message. “We want change,” says Hafiz Abdul Rehman, a student from Lahore, echoing scores of other Khan supporters at the rally. The traditional politicians, he said, have failed their people. They are accused of being venal, inept and distant. By contrast, many supporters said, Khan has an image of a clean politician committed to doing something for Pakistanis. “People see Imran as a savior,” says Khadijah Shah, a Lahore fashion designer. “They don’t really go much into what his policies are.”

    Musharraf too is courting the votes of people disenchanted with Pakistan’s traditional parties. On Sunday, he landed in Karachi airport, vowing to “save Pakistan.” In a sign of his limited appeal, however, only a few hundred people turned up to meet him. Musharraf has dodged the threat of arrest by winning bail in cases against him. But a graver threat is the Taliban, who paraded a death squad on TV and threatened to kill him. “Musharraf is taking an unnecessary risk for a political future which is just not there,” says Hassan Abbas, a senior adviser at Asia Society.

    Musharraf is unlikely to make an impact in the elections, partly because voters looking for an alternative find Khan a more attractive choice. There are concerns among some of Khan’s supporters about his attitude to the Pakistani Taliban – wanting to negotiate with them – and the decision to work with the Jamaat-e-Islami, a hard-line religious party. But the mere fact that he represents a political force that hasn’t been compromised by power works in his favor — as does Khan’s celebrity. “He won us the Cricket World Cup,” says Shah, “he built us a cancer hospital, and he’s really good looking.”

    That appeal isn’t limited to women, who seem more numerous at Khan’s rallies than those of other parties. Young men walked around the park with T-shirts bearing a younger Khan’s face on them, from his cricketing days. While other speakers shouted themselves hoarse on the stage, the crowd looked unmoved. “We know what these opportunists are all about,” says Ghazanfar Ali, a stockbroker, in reference to the politicians who joined Khan’s party over the past year, as his popularity has risen. “We’re only here for Imran.” The crowds chatted in small groups. When the music played, they rose to dance. And when it came to Khan’s turn to speak, the park quickly filled up. They sat down and waited intently for the closing act.

    Khan sounds relaxed about the focus on him. “It’s true all over South Asia that party leaders are important,” he tells TIME. But to achieve his ambition of coming to power, he’ll have to build up a party, something that’s eluded him. Recent polls show that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) is tipped to win the highest number of seats. Khan surged after holding an equally sized rally in Lahore in October 2011. Since then, he’s dipped in the polls. “While we were focused on holding internal elections,” says Khan, “the PML-N started propaganda against us that we had disappeared. Now, with this rally, we’ve shown our strength again.”

    Since Khan emerged as a threat, the PML-N has gone on the offensive. They built a mass-transit system in the city of Lahore that has won wide praise, even among Khan supporters. “I can’t deny my city’s looking better,” concedes Shah, the fashion designer. In Punjab, the PML-N’s provincial government has sought out the youth who are vulnerable to Khan’s appeal, tempting them away with the offer of free laptops for promising students and solar panels for their homes. They also cobbled together an impressive string of electoral alliances. Since the province of Punjab holds half of Parliament’s seats, the main battle of the coming election will be between Sharif and Khan there.

    Analysts say Khan isn’t likely to win more than a couple dozen seats. But the PML-N isn’t getting complacent. “Imran Khan has definitely made a constituency for himself, the size of which is underestimated,” says Khawaja Muhammad Asif, an PML-N leader. “We should not rule him out.” Khan’s support, as the attendees at the rally demonstrated, is principally drawn from the urban middle classes. Better educated, more religious and more nationalistic than the rest of the country, they have taken to Khan’s criticism of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, his stance against corruption and his own displays of religiosity. But they only represent a small, though influential, part of the electorate.

    For some of Khan’s voters, it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t win. “I’m not worried about the outlook,” says Ali, the stockbroker. “My conscience is fixed on how best to cast my vote.” But Khan says he’s determined to win. He speaks excitedly of how a quarter of his candidates will be from the youth, and how he’s going to counter the money of the big parties with an Internet-based fundraising drive of his own. “The party we have now is invincible,” Khan says. “We’re the only party that can hold big rallies in all of Pakistan’s major cities, and 90% of the country wants change.”

    The coming campaign, Khan says, will be like a “tsunami.” It’s an ill-advised phrase he’s been using to speak of how his wave of supporters will destroy a political system they despise. On Saturday, Khan was unable to complete his speech at the park because heavy rain began to lash the venue. “Congratulations,” Khan told the crowd, wiping his face. “The tsunami has come!”

    Read more: Pakistan: Ex-Cricket Star, Ex-President Kick Off Election Campaign | TIME.com
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    Bilawal leaves Pakistan, not to lead PPP election campaign
    DAWN.COM | 3 hours ago

    ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will not be leading the party’s election campaign as party officials confirmed his departure for Dubai on Tuesday, days before the party launches its official campaignon April 4.

    The news comes amid reports that he left after an argument with his father, President Asif Ali Zardari.

    However, Latif Khosa, recently elected secretary general of the PPP, told the Press Trust of India that “Bilawal may not attend election rallies due to security concerns and is likely to address gatherings on telephone or via video-conferencing.”

    PPP spokesman Qamar Zaman Kaira too confirmed Bilawal would not partake in rallies because he was facing an extraordinary amount of threats.

    According to the report by the Press Trust of India though, the PPP chairman had a quarrel with President Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur over the party’s stance on several importance issues including militancy, sectarianism and the awarding of party tickets for the upcoming general elections.

    Sources told the news agency that Bilawal had an issue in particular with PPP’s weak reaction to the Malala Yousufzai shooting and the bomb attacks on the Shia community in Karachi and Quetta.

    In addition, Bilawal is concerned with the PPP’s handling of the ‘youth factor’, keeping in mind that Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s strong point is his popularity with Pakistan’s youth.

    Bilawal was also angered by Talpur’s decision to not hand over party tickets to candidates in Sindh whom he favoured, a source told the Press Trust of India.

    “Last month, Bilawal had recommended the names of some 200 PPP workers and asked former Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah to give them jobs but Talpur had intervened, causing bad blood between them,” according to the source.

    When he discussed the issue with his father, the president allegedly sided with his sister.

    “When Zardari told him that he would be handed over the command of the party after he is groomed politically, Bilawal got upset and left for Dubai,” a source said.

    Tensions rose so high that reportedly, at one point, Bilawal said: “If I had to vote, even I wouldn’t vote for the PPP.”

    The departure of the PPP’s chairman has caused some trouble within the party, which has been counting on him to appeal to voters as a member of the Bhutto progeny. The PPP is to launch its election campaign on April 4 in Garhi Khuda Buksh.

    “Bilawal had been projected as the PPP’s star campaigner as the president cannot participate in the campaign due to pressure from the courts,” a PPP leader said.

    “Without Bilawal, the PPP cannot touch the emotions of the people, especially the hard core PPP workers,” added the PPP leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

    Meanwhile, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani tried to downplay Bilawal’s departure for Dubai, saying there were no tensions between Bilawal, his father and his aunt.

    “In our families, our children give immense respect to their elders,” Gilani told the news agency.

    Hasham Riaz, Bilawal’s chief of staff, said Bilawal had gone to Dubai for “routine business”.

    He said the reports of tensions between Bilawal and President Zardari were “mere rumours”. Asked if Bilawal would come back to Pakistan, Riaz said: “Of course.”

    Meanwhile, a source told Dawn.com that Bilawal, who turns 25 this September and will be of eligible age to contest elections by the time of the by-elections, has decided not to take part in even the by-polls.

    Bilawal leaves Pakistan, not to lead PPP election campaign | Latest-News | DAWN.COM

    ===========

    The overwhelming majority of the commentary in Pakistan appears to view the alleged estrangement as a 'gimmick' by the PPP to try and position Bilawal as a 'rebel', disassociate him from the abysmal performance and polices of the PPP led government over the last 5 years, and subsequently herald his 'return to the PPP fold' as some kind of 'harbinger of change'.
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    Thank you and keep it up.

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    Pakistan has historically had a low voter turnout at national elections and a chunk of that turnout can be argued to be 'reliably in XYZ's pocket' given the influence of Tribal-Feudal dynamics in certain constituencies.

    Voter turnout in the coming elections is going to be critical to the outcome, especially for Imran Khan's PTI to succeed, because the PTI will need the historically disenchanted/disinterested voter to counter the traditional voter base the established political parties (PPP, PMLN) count on.

    Here is an article from 2012 that explores low voter turnout in Pakistan and socio-economic factors that might play a role:

    Pakistan’s voter turnout conundrum

    By Ibrahim KhanPublished: March 29, 2012
    The writer is an undergraduate student at Harvard University, Class of 2014. He is also the Chairman of Harvard University’s John F Kennedy Jr Forum. He tweets @ibrahimakhan


    In a democracy, a citizen’s vote is an empowering right. It is tragic then that in 2008 general elections, voter turnout across Pakistan was a meagre 44.1 per cent. In 2008, Bangladesh had an 87.4 per cent voter turnout in its parliamentary elections. In India’s 2009 general election, voter turnout across the five phases was 59.7 per cent. To make our democracy work, voting is of paramount importance.

    In search of an explanation for this anomaly, I analysed voter turnout in each district of Punjab through a simple linear regression model. Using data from the 1998 Census, the 2011 Punjab Development Statistics Report, the Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey, the Lights Report of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the 2008 General Election Report, I found interesting and often surprising correlations.

    Most tellingly, there is a strong positive correlation between income per capita and voter turnout. In large cities, areas with higher living standards have lower voter turnout. Across Punjab though, this is not the case; in fact, the opposite holds. In 2008, districts with higher levels of income per capita had higher voter turnout. Outside urban centres, economic development drives voter turnout. There is a simple explanation for this trend: regions with proportionally higher levels of income have more at stake during an election.

    While income strongly correlates with turnout, literacy rates across districts do not. An area with relatively high literacy is not necessarily going to have high voter turnout. Again, this defies conventional wisdom. It is generally believed that with a higher prevalence of education there is more involvement with the political process. But, puzzlingly, the data say otherwise. There is a potential explanation for this incongruity: the literacy rate statistic is inherently flawed. An individual is considered ‘literate’ if they can read a newspaper and write a simple letter. If turnout was regressed on a statistic of educational quality, perhaps, a stronger correlation would be observable.

    Crime per capita in a district is negatively correlated with voter turnout in that district. If a district has high crime per capita, voter turnout is bound to be low in that district. As law and order improves and crime per capita falls, turnout is higher. When voters feel secure, they have more faith in the system and have a greater incentive to turn up on election day.

    The number of union councils per capita is positively correlated with voter turnout. If a district has more union councils per capita, that district is more likely to have a higher voter turnout. This is probably because as the number of union councils per capita increases, individual voters have greater interaction with local government officials. With greater interaction, voters are more inclined to vote during a general election.

    Diverse sets of factors correlate with voter turnout in Pakistan’s 2008 general election. While it is important to remember the statistician’s mantra of correlation is not causation, each of these factors lends insight into our low turnout. With economic development, we can expect turnout to rise. As law and order improves, voters will be more comfortable at polling stations. As the local government improves, confidence in the political process will heighten and voters will be proud of their right to vote. We often speak about the evolution of democracy, but democracy cannot evolve unless we vote for the right candidates. As my research shows, we are not pushed to vote unless incomes rise, crime rates fall and local governments are strengthened. But none of this is possible if we do not utilise our vote.

    It is most disappointing to see low turnout in urban areas where education levels are higher. If we have been privileged with an education, the least we can do is to vote, thereby fulfilling our basic responsibility as citizens of this democracy. We need to lead our country out of this vicious cycle of low turnout and into a better future. Luckily for us, it starts with ticking a box.

    Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2012.
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    Last edited by Agnostic Muslim; 26 Mar 13, at 16:02.
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    One of the more objective op-eds on Imran Khan and his chances in the coming elections:
    Tens of thousands responded to PTI Chairman Imran Khan's call to attend his March 23 rally at the Minar-e-Pakistan if they wanted to create a 'new Pakistan'. Aside from some 80,000 newly-elected office bearers - a feather in his cap for holding genuine intraparty elections - as is the common practice at such gatherings, aspiring candidates for party tickets had brought along workers and supporters to make a show of strength.

    Also present in force were the urban middle-class youth inspired by Imran's slogan of change, responding enthusiastically to every one of his six pledges to never break a single promise, to end oppression, to wage jihad against exploitation and injustice, to keep his money in Pakistan, not to indulge in nepotism, to stand by his stance on US drone strikes in the tribal areas, and to turn government leaders' palatial residences into libraries. If his last public meeting at the same place proved he had 'arrived', the one on Sunday showed he stays as a formidable alternative to the two other major parties although it is yet to be known how the PTI is perceived in the rural areas.

    The important question at this point is whether or not he will be able to convert this groundswell of support into votes. One major positive development on that score is the just concluded intraparty elections. The exercise has created a large body of stakeholders from the union council, to tehsil, and district all the way up to provincial and national level, although the top positions have been filled unopposed inviting criticism from detractors. Then there is a newly raised cadre of a million 'Tabdeeli Razakars' (change volunteers) who are to propagate the party programme and bring out people to cast their votes. The urban youth who have been participating in his rallies are active on the social media spreading the party message. The fervour for change though may still be dampened if the usual electable types rather than new faces are dominant among the party ticket holders who are to contest assemblies' seats. An equally, if not more, serious problem could be Imran Khan's own misjudgements. His support for Tahirul Qadri's campaign did not sit well with many. His hobnobbing with the Jamaat-e-Islami has long been a source of unease among urban middle-classes wanting to see this country rise as a progressive forward-looking society. Yet at a recent party meeting the PTI, contrary to its earlier declarations not to forge any pre-election alliance, decided to make seat-to-seat adjustments with the JI and Sheikh Rashid's Awami Muslim League.

    It remains a mystery as to why should the PTI make any kind of alliance with Rashid's one-man party. Seat adjustments with JI can be a mixed bag of gains and losses. Small blocks of JI votes may benefit PTI candidates in Karachi and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. But then the PTI on its own is believed to have a large following in KP. If the hope is to dip into religious types' vote, it is already divided in KP where the JUI-F has a strong presence. Alliance with the JI may bring more loss than gain. It is likely to alienate a large number of liberal elements who think Imran, despite his right wing leanings, is a social liberal. Also, for those who may be willing to accept Imran's position on negotiating with the Taliban on the ground that much of the violence in the tribal areas is the result of the US war in neighbouring Afghanistan and the anger generated by drone strikes, it would be an outrage to associate with the JI, whose chief Munnawar Hassan, has consistently been refusing to condemn suicide bombings killing innocent people all over the country. Imran needs to rethink his present strategy to turn the waves of support into 'tsunami' that, he says, is to destroy the old system for him to build a new Pakistan.

    Imran's promise of a new Pakistan | Business Recorder
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    Upcoming Pakistan Vote Signals Change in Civilian-Military Relations

    ISLAMABAD — On May 11, Pakistan will hold national elections to usher in a new civilian government. After decades of military rule and political instability, this will be the first time in the country's history that a civilian government will transfer power through the ballot box. The handover reflects a shift in the relationship between civilian and military institutions in Pakistan.

    Army leader General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has kept his vow to keep the military out of politics. After decades of military coups and political interventions, May's national elections will mark the first time a government has completed its five-year term and peacefully handed over power to another civilian government.

    Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas says both the military and civilian leaderships have matured since the country first became an Islamic republic in 1956.

    "I would say the military leadership of this time has taken the principled decision to support democracy and not to allow the system to derail in any case, because they believe this is the way forward, as far as our nation, our country is concerned," Abbas said.

    That decision is a milestone for Pakistan's democratic development and an expansion of the democratic process. This year for the first time, political parties are being allowed to campaign in the military-controlled northwest Federally Administered Tribal Areas - known as FATA -- on the border with Afghanistan.

    Ashraf Ali, president of the FATA research center, says permitting those campaigns are a first step to integrating the region into the country's political mainstream.

    “There is quite a lot of enthusiasm on the part of the masses who know that now this process is ours," Ali said. "They have been given a sense of ownership now. Previously it was the case they were excluded from the political process and that was the crux of the issues. Now they have been given the sense of ownership that these elections are meant for you, these are from you, and these are for you."

    Ali says this sense of inclusion may also help the civilian leadership to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban, which in turn could affect how the military moves forward in the militant strongholds.

    "I believe that things are getting changed in FATA, in the given circumstances," Ali said. "I believe the civil-military relations are going to be getting better, and I believe now there is a realization on the part of the army, as well that it is the job of the civilian governments, that it is not the military to deliver on that front. It is going to be the job of the political administration to deliver."

    Former ambassador Karl Inderfurth of the United States Institute of Peace says the changes taking place within and between the civilian and military leaderships will prove extraordinarily important for Pakistan.

    But he cautions that it is a relationship that cannot be taken for granted.

    "It is fair to say that the military, including the ISI, which is part of the military, remain key players in the political dynamic of Pakistan and will remain that way for the foreseeable future," the ambassador noted. "Indeed a democratic Pakistan and a strong military these are not incompatible; it is a question though of the military respect for and willingness to abide by, the decisions of a democratically elected civilian leadership. That is the issue here."

    In economically fragile Pakistan, many point to weak growth, unemployment and the country’s ongoing energy crisis as major concerns for the incoming government.

    Retired General Talat Masood says the economy has become so central for both the armed forces and the civilians that the two can no longer afford to move in different directions. But he warns that if a new government is too weak to govern effectively, the balance of power may tip once again.

    "Well, I would say that if the next government fails to deliver to the minimum as far as the economy is concerned to meet the energy needs, the educational needs, and does not turn this somewhat semi-dysfunctional state into a functional state, then obviously the power of the military forces and the bureaucracy will increase, along maybe with the judiciary, and they will then fill in the vacuum," he said.

    Overall, analysts agree the military will remain a key player in Pakistan, though it will likely remain behind the scenes. The question that remains is to what extent the country's top generals will abide by the national and foreign policy decisions of a newly-elected civilian leadership.

    Upcoming Pakistan Vote Signals Change in Civilian-Military Relations
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    Zain,

    Thanks. A helpful series of columns. How the population is mobilized into voting constituencies along with securing the actual vote will be interesting for me. It's difficult imagining viable electoral polls in FATAville. Equally difficult seeing TTP and others not attempting to disrupt these proceedings. Still, it's a very small percentage of the overall vote so there's hope we'll see a reasonable reflection of the people's will.
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    Quote Originally Posted by S2 View Post
    Zain,
    It's difficult imagining viable electoral polls in FATAville. Equally difficult seeing TTP and others not attempting to disrupt these proceedings.
    I am not convinced that even viable electoral polls in FATA will help the local leadership in negotiating peace with the TTP - the TTP ideology does not accept 'democracy' as being compatible with their interpretation of Islam. In addition, the TTP has co-opted various criminal elements and endeavors (drugs, kidnapping, smuggling etc.) in order to boost its resources and influence, and a legitimately elected FATA leadership will pose a threat to that.
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    Political notes

    By Ejaz HaiderPublished: March 26, 2013
    The writer is Editor, National Security Affairs at Capital TV and a visiting fellow at SDPI


    Let’s begin with former General-President Pervez Musharraf. He is back — finally. Why he thinks he can make a difference is beyond me. As for a deal orchestrated by Saudi Arabia, since I don’t know anything about it beyond speculation, I shan’t speculate. Not even when people point out that Mian Nawaz Sharif has been surprisingly silent about Musharraf’s homecoming.

    Too many people bay for Musharraf’s blood. In this, Musharraf has united many disparate elements, from the abominable Taliban to the foreign-funded Baloch separatists to the gullible liberals.

    The video that the Taliban released a day before Musharraf’s arrival was less interesting about their desire to kill him and more fascinating in how the Taliban were reaching out to Baloch separatists, inviting them to conduct a joint operation. Perhaps that says something about the “roots of the Taliban rage” not just in targeting Musharraf but the overall violence they and other groups have unleashed in Pakistan. Murky waters these, and getting murkier while we eat muesli in the morning and think that the world outside is full of seraphim and the serpent crawls on its belly inside.

    Musharraf did many stupid things but unless we resort to selective amnesia, he also did some good things. In any case, he is now in the political arena and will have to atone, directly or indirectly, for what he did or didn’t do. What is unacceptable, as it should be to every Pakistani, is that he is now at the mercy of groups that want him dead. The issue of Musharraf’s security, whether we like it or not, is a matter that goes beyond his person. He represented the state and initiated a war against the terrorists groups (though the conduct of that war under him is another story). If they manage to get him, it will be a reflection, yet again, that the state is unable to protect itself and its interests. And we must remember that a crime against any citizen is a crime against the state. That is why all criminal cases are titled as the “State vs XYZ”.

    The day before Musharraf’s homecoming, we had the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) rally at Minto Park in Lahore. The detractors have invested much in telling us that the rally was a damp squib while the Insaafians think they massed some half million people at the venue. I think someone needs to, for once, scientifically work out the capacity of all political venues in Pakistan to get the nation out of this guessing game. As for the half-million figure, let’s put that number somewhere so people could see, for once, what that crowd looks like. Incidentally, the Pakistan Army’s total strength is 550,000 men!

    Then there was the issue of passion. Was there enough passion; was it more charged than the October 30th rally etcetera? The answers, again, depend on which side of the divide people stand. I was there and it looked quite passionate to me. The grounds south of Minar-e-Pakistan were full, except for the western stretch (which was sparsely populated). But the questions of numbers and passion are irrelevant. Elections in Pakistan are not about passion; they work on the basis of constituencies and constituencies, for the most part, are very local, municipal affairs.

    Constituency politics is why it is difficult to get a median voter in Pakistan; nor, for that reason, does voting depend on issues. So, the relevant question is not how many people could the PTI gather at the Minar or whether there was enough passion. The real question — and challenge — is whether the PTI can translate its supposed numbers and passion into the banality of vote-getting in a political system that is structured to lock out issues — unless there is indeed a tidal wave, as happened in 1970.

    This brings the wheel full circle to the (in)famous tsunami: are we about to witness a PTI deluge? More power to them if they can do it. But going by conventional wisdom, and counting out black swans, it doesn’t seem possible. The irony, though, is that while the PTI’s detractors never tire of pointing to the fact that rallies don’t win elections, they, nonetheless, continue to quibble over the questions of numbers and passion displayed in the PTI rallies.

    The PTI’s next challenge, if it were to win, would be to tweak the system such that it becomes more responsive to issues than municipal concerns. The thought that a system allowed to run uninterruptedly will, for that very reason, cleanse itself is as optimistic as the charge of the Light Brigade.

    Finally, on that note, the issue of making history: this government, we are told, has made history by completing five years. Since making history is not just a function of doing good, as history itself shows us, this government has made history. It successfully kept breathing even after rigor mortis had set in and if that is not remarkable, politically and medically, I don’t know what is. Three cheers to it for that.

    We are also told that a milestone has been achieved in working out, constitutionally, a neutral caretaker government. That might be so, except I am not sure a mature political system does indeed need a caretaker government. Far from indicating maturity, it signals a situation where an outgoing government is so distrusted by the political opposition that a fair election can only be conducted by a neutral government. If the reflection of this distrust through a constitutional mechanism to prevent a government from loading the dice against others is an achievement, then it indeed is. But to present such a guarantee as reflecting maturity is a bit of a stretch.

    What can, however, be argued — and correctly — is that it is an achievement that not only reflects the immaturity and fragility of the system but also a proactive effort by the politicians to try and address that weakness until there is greater regard on all sides of the normative aspects of politicking. Allah be praised!

    Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2013.
    Political notes – The Express Tribune
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    And on the subject of potential violence leading up to and during the coming elections ...

    ==============================

    Interior ministry’s assessment: Militants determined to sabotage elections

    From the Newspaper | Iftikhar A. Khan | 11 hours ago 3

    ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Interior has warned of a massive terrorist threat in the coming elections.

    A presentation made during a meeting between officials of the ministry and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to discuss security issues revealed that the banned Jandullah organisation, in coordination with Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was planning to carry out large-scale terrorist attacks in Balochistan, with Nushki and Quetta as their particular targets.

    Intelligence reports suggest that attacks on government and semi-government buildings, installations and personnel of security forces were also possible.

    A participant of the meeting told Dawn that the meeting had been informed that the Balochistan Republican Army (BRA) was also planning to carry out attacks by improvised explosive device (IED) in Dera Bugti, Naseerabad and Jaffarabad. Usman Saifullah Kurd, a ‘commander’ of the Balochistan faction of the LJ, was planning terrorist attacks in Islamabad.

    The meeting was also informed that the recent fighting among militants of the TTP, Lashkar-i-Islam and pro-government Ansar-ul-Islam from Jan 25 to March 18 might pose serious problem not only in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), but also in Peshawar and other settled districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

    The TTP is reported to be planning to carry out suicide and bomb attacks on important government buildings and installations in Peshawar.

    Mirali-based TTP militants may carry out attacks in Khanewal, Multan and surrounding areas.

    The meeting decided to set up a Joint Task Group comprising representatives of appropriate rank from operations wing of police, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Military Intelligence (MI), civil armed forces (CAF) and the ECP. The group will meet regularly to review security arrangements based on assessment of threat and changing needs as electioneering moves towards the polling day.

    It was observed that provinces needed to prepare a contingency plan to deal with any eventuality. However, the Ministry of Interior will keep federal resources — manpower, equipment and expertise — ready.

    The meeting also discussed security problems to be faced during movement of ballot papers, candidates, observers and the Election Commission’s staff. Various aspects of security during the election campaign and on the polling day were discussed.

    It was noted that maintaining law and order was basically the responsibility of the provinces. The provinces were asked to send in advance their demand for requisition of army and civil armed forces for particular cities and places.

    It was decided that the ministry would provide two helicopters to each province for air surveillance a few days before elections. At the request of the provinces, the ministry will coordinate with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for suspending mobile phone service in areas where there was possibility of terror attacks.

    The meeting decided that the responsibility of security for foreign observers and foreign media would be of Islamabad police in the federal capital and Rangers, FC and provincial police in the provinces.

    The meeting also decided that high level of coordination would be maintained among intelligence networks to effectively pre-empt and counter threats of terrorism.

    Meanwhile, Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim left for Quetta where he is scheduled to meet representatives of various political parties on Thursday.

    The meetings will be attended by ECP members from Balochistan and KP and ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan. When contacted, the ECP secretary said all Baloch leaders may meet the ECP and convey their concerns. Asked about reports that Talal Bugti had refused to meet the CEC and his team, he said: “We do not think they will do so with guests.”

    Interior ministry
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  11. #11
    Senior Contributor Agnostic Muslim's Avatar
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    A potentially disappointing development for overseas Pakistanis (OSP) given the pessimism and reluctance, with respect to setting up the logistical framework for OSP voting in the elections, being displayed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP):
    =================
    SC asks caretakers to enact legislation giving overseas Pakistanis the right to vote

    ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the caretaker government to enact legislation through an ordinance to give the overseas Pakistanis right to vote as per the requirement of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

    A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heard the overseas Pakistanis case. The court, in this regard, further said the Foreign Ministry can be contacted for the establishment of polling stations abroad, directing that arrangements be completed before the forthcoming general elections.

    The court sought a report pertaining to the concerned authorities’ deliberations over extending the facility to overseas Pakistanis, enabling them to exercise their right of franchise in the general elections.

    The court directed the attorney general for Pakistan to hold extensive deliberations with the foreign affairs, law; science and information technology secretaries, Nadra chairman and ECP over extending facility of voting o the overseas Pakistanis, and submit report by March 29.

    During the course of proceedings, the ECP submitted a report which said that it was not possible to provide voting right to overseas Pakistanis during the general elections.

    Munir A Piracha, counsel for the ECP, however, contended that the Commission had no issues if the government could make proper arrangements for the Pakistanis to cast their votes.

    “Then why don’t you come out from the bunker and do the needful,” Justice Gulzar Ahmed asked the ECP counsel.

    The chief justice observed that the court had suggested to make arrangements for 10 polling stations only, adding that they can ask the high courts to send 10 session judges to these countries as Returning Officers.

    Later, the court adjourned the hearing till tomorrow (Friday).

    Online adds: Addressing the ECP counsel, Justice Gulzar remarked: “You have given report that right to vote cannot be given to overseas Pakistanis despite the fact you have to do this job.”

    The chief justice observed: “We are not understanding it.”

    Munir Paracha said: “ECP is of the view that this cannot be done at present.” Justice Gulzar observed: “Leave aside your own thinking. No work is impossible in the world.”

    The chief justice remarked: “You cannot provide polling stations in the streets in other countries. You don’t want to do this job. Had you any intention to do so, you would have developed software on this matter so far. On one hand [we] all miss overseas Pakistanis but no one comes forward. Only politically motivated statements are being given. If all political persons show courage then a lot can be done. Trained persons can be sent to other countries to impart knowledge to the people. Don’t look towards the media. If you have courage then we can say to high courts to provide you 10 district sessions judges for their induction in other countries.”

    Munir Paracha said: “We have never stated earlier that it is not workable.”

    The CJ remarked: “Then what is your objective. Date upon date is lapsing. Overseas Pakistanis are running your country; they are sending you foreign exchange. You are not ready to do any thing for them. We had asked the previous government but two years have elapsed and now we are asking the caretaker government. What difficulties the ECP is facing on this count. How long we will continue to be called a developing country or does it not look better to us to be called a developed country. Several persons can do work voluntarily. Polling has to take place on May 11. Foreign Office would have done the job of appointing the people. People would have been given briefing with reference to the elections.

    Justice Iftikhar further observed: “Overseas Pakistanis are registered with you as voters. Nadra is having a set-up and it is beyond understanding as to why the process is being hampered. We should not be forced otherwise we would give decision and you people would have to implement this decision at every cost. The caretaker government has come and old things should be abandoned now. Do practical job instead of paying lip service. Court is being befooled that such and such thing cannot be done. If you are not ready to do anything then what the court has to do with it.”

    Munir Paracha said: “It is our best endeavour that right to vote is given to overseas Pakistanis. It is duty of caretaker government to hold elections in transparent manner. Amendments are needed and caretaker government will do it.”

    SC asks caretakers to legislate - thenews.com.pk
    Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission - Jinnah
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  12. #12
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    I think Imran Khan is a closet mullah with a westernized veneer that's soon going to crack at the seams. I am pretty sure most Indians are under no illusions about this smiling slick talking "moderate."

    But in the context of the current state of affairs in Pakistan, I can see the attraction he holds for the naive gullible urban liberals under siege by the home grown fanatics.
    Last edited by doppelganger; 28 Mar 13, at 13:07.

  13. #13
    Senior Contributor Agnostic Muslim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doppelganger View Post
    I think Imran Khan is a closet mullah with a westernized veneer that's soon going to crack at the seams. I am pretty sure most Indians are under no illusions about this smiling slick talking "moderate."

    But in the context of the current state of affairs in Pakistan, I can see the attraction he holds for the naive gullible urban liberals under siege by the home grown fanatics.
    If Imran Khan's personal life can be looked at as an indicator of his 'beliefs', then I would say he does fall into the 'moderate' category - he separated from his British wife amicably (for the most part - she still shows up occasionally in support of him at events) and has had no issues with his wife retaining primary custody of his children. He was one of the first political leaders to openly and strongly condemn the Quetta violence and called out the PMLN for its links to sectarian terrorist groups like the LeJ/ASWJ/SSP. He was also, IIRC, the only major political figure to tour the predominantly Christian colony that was the target of arson and riots over perceived 'blasphemy' to express his support for the victims and condemn the violence.
    Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission - Jinnah
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agnostic Muslim View Post
    If Imran Khan's personal life can be looked at as an indicator of his 'beliefs', then I would say he does fall into the 'moderate' category - he separated from his British wife amicably (for the most part - she still shows up occasionally in support of him at events) and has had no issues with his wife retaining primary custody of his children. He was one of the first political leaders to openly and strongly condemn the Quetta violence and called out the PMLN for its links to sectarian terrorist groups like the LeJ/ASWJ/SSP. He was also, IIRC, the only major political figure to tour the predominantly Christian colony that was the target of arson and riots over perceived 'blasphemy' to express his support for the victims and condemn the violence.
    Yet he is all for chumming up to the taliban, the whole hog with pashtun topi and AK, and is regularly seen having meetings with unsavory characters who are on global terror watch. He started off liberal and playboy, but got "religion" on the death of his mom, which to a large extent made his marriage fail as well, however amicable it is made out to be now in retrospect.

    Dont get me wrong, we here are under no illusions as to who would still call the shots at your end. We were just hoping for a more liberal totem.

  15. #15
    Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind Senior Contributor Tronic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doppelganger View Post
    Yet he is all for chumming up to the taliban, the whole hog with pashtun topi and AK, and is regularly seen having meetings with unsavory characters who are on global terror watch. He started off liberal and playboy, but got "religion" on the death of his mom, which to a large extent made his marriage fail as well, however amicable it is made out to be now in retrospect.

    Judge him by his political leanings, and he is an Islamist through and through. He staunchly supports Pakistan's blasphemy laws (while paying lip service to it's victims) and staunchly opposed the amendments to the Hudood Ordinance in 2006 which were tabled (and passed despite Imran's and other Islamist's opposition) to protect women's rights. Prior to these amendments, women were often sentenced to death, accused of adultery, if they had been raped. When pushed on his stance by the liberals on why he opposed the Women's Protection Bill, his response is that it's because he wanted to repeal the Hudood ordinance altogether. And that's just the start... The man speaks with a forked tongue on every single issue, so naturally, I don't trust him one bit. That said, "shhhh", AM's a fan. It's better to just sit back.
    doppelganger likes this.
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