Showing posts from May, 2013

Democratic transition

For the first time in six decades, we are witnessing a proper democratic transition take place in Pakistan. With a 60 percent voter turnout, Pakistan has elected a new government. The previous dispensation, despite being a weak coalition government, completed its tenure. General elections were held under a neutral caretaker setup and an independent Election Commission. By and large, these elections were free and fair except in a few constituencies where re-polling took place, votes were recounted and/or cases of rigging are being investigated. Most analysts had predicted a hung parliament but the electorate has given a clear mandate to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which is all set to form governments in both Punjab and Islamabad.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is now mostly confined to Sindh and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Imran Khan’s promised ‘tsunami’ failed to deliver much, which surprised many analysts but not Iftikhar Ahmad, a journalist…

Return of the Lion King

Nawaz Sharif wins Pakistan but can he win the many wars within, ranging from economic to Islamic?

It's 11.30 p.m. on election day, May 11, at PML-N's imposing headquarters in Model Town, Lahore. As hundreds of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supporters gather around to greet their leadership, "Burrhon, kamzoron ka sahara, puri qaum ka ek hee nara... Sher hamara, sher hamara (Champion of the old and weak, the entire nation's slogan: Our lion, our lion)" starts echoing in the background. A beaming Nawaz Sharif comes out on the balcony, as if to greet his loyal subjects. As daughter Maryam and brother Shahbaz nod approvingly, the prime minister-designate of Pakistan sounds suitably humble. "If anyone has abused me, abused Shahbaz Sharif, abused our party... we forgive them." With its victory, PML-N has silenced the moaners, groaners and doomsayers by sweeping Punjab and even emerging among the top three successful parties in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Bal…

Wounded Warrior Fights To The Finish

A hurt Imran Khan hopes the outpouring of public sympathy will propel him to victory in Pakistan polls

In an ironic twist of fate, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-a party that ridicules the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for capitalising on tragedies-is now cashing in on its chief Imran Khan's fall at a jalsa in Lahore on May 7. Hours after his accident, Khan sent a message to his supporters from his hospital bed. "My dear Pakistanis, I have done whatever I could for Pakistan. Now I want you to take charge. If you want to change your destiny, you will have to take responsibility. 11th May...11th May, vote for PTI candidates so that we can build a naya (new) Pakistan together." The enthusiasm and commitment of PTI supporters after Khan's emotional appeal was quite visible the next day. Young boys and girls were out in full force on the streets of Lahore chanting, "Dekho dekho kaun aayaa€, Sher ka shikaari aaya (The tiger's hunter is here)!"

A new survey con…

It’s a make-or-break Saturday for Islamabad

Pakistan stands at the cliff-edge of Saturday’s general elections with a fear of the unknown. With terrorist attacks almost every day and the possibility of more on poll day, the make-or-break moment for Pakistan’s democratic future is shrouded in morbidity. Conspiracy theories abound as usual. To dispel the notion that the military establishment wants to derail democracy, army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani recently reassured the nation that elections would be held on May 11.
“We mustn’t harbour suspicion or misgivings about it. This is a golden opportunity to usher in an era of true democratic values. It is not merely retribution but awareness and participation of the masses that can end this game of hide-and-seek between democracy and dictatorship,” he said.

Speaking at an event marking Youm-e-Shuhada (Martyrs' Day) on April 30, the General said: "If we succeed in rising above all ethnic, linguistic and sectarian biases to vote solely on the basis of honesty, sincerity, me…

Time for Pak to embrace democracy

Tomorrow is a big day for Pakistan. We are finally going to have a transition albeit not a smooth one to democracy by holding elections after a civilian government completed its tenure. Had the circumstances been different, we would have celebrated this moment. Instead, we are quivering in fear.

These elections have been dubbed as the bloodiest in the history of Pakistan. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is targeting the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) left, right and centre. These three parties have not been able to campaign due to security threats. Punjab is the only province where we have seen proper electioneering.

No wonder then that people are asking whether it is an election or selection process. Rightist parties like the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have not even condemned the Taliban for attacks against the three liberal parties.

They are making a huge mistake by thinkin…

Who will win Pakistan?

Will lion of Punjab Nawaz Sharif become prime minister for the third time or will captain Imran Khan ride a tsunami of youth power?

Sixty-six years after its creation, a democratic transition is taking place for the first time in Pakistan's history. An elected government has completed its tenure, put in place an independent Election Commission, and handed power to a neutral caretaker set-up to allow free and fair elections. But the fear of violence is palpable. Under normal circumstances, passions run high during election season-political leaders campaign in full force, election meetings and rallies are held at every nook and corner, and the atmosphere is that of a mela. In Pakistan, it seems, however, as if the election campaign is being staged solely for television screens, not the streets.

There is not much election activity outside Punjab, where campaigning is so hectic that candidates sometimes forget their own loyalties. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, who h…