New Age Islam
Fri Oct 23 2020, 12:39 AM

Current Affairs ( 11 May 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Nawaz Sharif Makes a Comeback in Pakistan, Faces Numerous Challenges



 ‘You Can Rig All You Want. Karachi Will Not Take Your Rubbish’

Women Participation: Voting In The Shadow Of Dreams

Manmohan Singh Felicitates Nawaz Sharif

Indo-Pak Ties Will Improve, If Nawaz Comes To Power: Salman Khurshid


Nawaz Sharif Makes a Comeback in Pak, Faces Numerous Challenges


ISLAMABAD, May 12, 2013: PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has made a triumphant return to the centre stage of Pakistani politics at a time when the country is bedevilled by immense problems ranging from a tanking economy, corruption to Taliban insurgency.

Thirteen years after he was removed as premier, arrested and humiliatingly sent into exile to Saudi Arabia, Sharif has declared victory in the historic general elections.

In many ways, analysts say, Sharif's return reflects the slow and steady maturing of democracy and politics in Pakistan, which has been run by the military for more than half of its 66-year history.

And it is Sharif's relationship with the powerful military, which sets the agenda for foreign and security policies that will largely determine the country's future.

The PML-N is set to bag over 125 of the 272 parliamentary seats for which polls were held on Saturday, with the party performing better than expected in the face of a last minute surge by Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf.

The PML-N is now comfortably placed to form a coalition government, setting up an unprecedented third term as premier for Sharif.

Sharif is set to return to power at a time when Pakistan is facing several major challenges, including growing extremism, a strong Taliban presence in the country's northwest, rampant corruption, uneasy relations with the US ahead of the withdrawal of foreign forces from war-torn Afghanistan and an economy that has virtually been in free fall for the past few years.

He has already made it clear that he intends to take up India-Pakistan relations from where he had left them when he was ousted from power in 1999.

After conducting nuclear tests in response to India's atomic blasts in 1998, Sharif had worked with his then Indian counterpart Atal Bihari Vajpayee to improve relations.

Talking to the media on Saturday night, Sharif said he worked hard for a detente with New Delhi before Musharraf deposed him.

"We'll pick the threads where we left. We want to move toward better relations with India, to resolve the remaining issues through peaceful means, including that of Kashmir," he said.

Sharif has shown that he is willing to work with other political forces to deal with these issues, saying that all parties should sit with the PML-N to find ways to tackle Pakistan's pressing problems.

In recent days, he has also called for peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, blamed for killing scores during the election campaign.

Analysts and commentators also believe the once-impetuous Sharif has matured during his years in exile and out of power.

Many of them point to the fact that he allowed the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government to complete its five-year term, despite being in a position to pull it down, simply because he wanted democracy to grow stronger in Pakistan.

"He is also a practical politician who understands that he cannot wish away the importance of the army. They will learn to work together," Farrukh Pitafi, a columnist and talk show host, told PTI.

"The perception that the civilian government and the military cannot work together is totally misplaced. The army is a prudent institution that understands it has to work with every elected political government," he said.

And while the PML-N is also set to return to power in Punjab — Pakistan's most populous province that has more than half the seats in the lower house of parliament — Sharif will have to walk a fine line in handling inter-provincial relations as Imran Khan's party will be in power in the restive north-western province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa while the PPP is set to form government in southern Sindh province.

Over the past two years, the PML-N launched several populist programmes, including distributing laptops to students and giving away new taxis, and during his campaign, Sharif promised new infrastructure projects like bullet trains and major highways.

Analysts, however, believe Sharif will be hard pressed to find the funds for such schemes.

Over the past five years, the government has been widely accused of economic mismanagement.

The country has remained stuck in a cycle of low growth and high inflation, unable to create jobs for the two million people who enter the employment market annually.


Indo-Pak Ties Will Improve, If Nawaz Comes To Power: Salman Khurshid

By Sohail Khattak / Naeem Sahoutara / Hafeez Tunio / Noman Ahmed / Rizwan Shehzad / Sarfaraz Memon / Rafay MahmoodPublished: May 12, 2013

Thousands of young people in Karachi looking to cast their votes for the first time were bristling with rage when the election process was hijacked in their constituencies.

In NA-250, the Election Commission of Pakistan has said that the process will be started from scratch in those polling stations from which complaints have been received.

One polling station where rigging was blatant was Aisha Bawany Secondary School, where the presiding officer, was watching a woman place stamps on ballot papers and slipping them into the ballot box.

The constituencies falling within district West also remained turbulent throughout Saturday. What began as a smooth start to a seemingly tranquil polling day in NA-242 quickly spiraled into chaos about an hour before noon. A small bomb planted in a bus rocked the area near Shaheen school, a polling station close to Kati Pahari. Polling was immediately suspended in the surrounding polling stations.

Violence was not the only hurdle here: like other parts of the city, voters and polling staff reported blatant hijacking of the election process amid the ECP mismanagement. A group of over 50 young men stormed the Government Boys Primary School, Pirabad, and manhandled the polling staff. While talking to The Express Tribune, Farhat Ali Khan, the presiding officer, said, “They tore half the ballot papers and took away the rest of them.”

More of the same was seen at the Government Degree College in SITE. Unidentified men barged into this polling station and threatened the staff, which scurried off to a separate room some distance away from where the booths had been set up. “They said they would take me to Kati Pahari if I don’t leave the room,” said the rather frightened presiding officer. “Are we here just to count votes as these people do whatever they like?”

Meanwhile, supporters of different political parties had erected barriers along routes which connected Lyari to Kharadar. The area falls in NA-249 – the constituency where a neck-and-neck competition was expected between Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Farooq Sattar and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) stalwart Abdul Aziz Memon.

The same happened in the heart of Lyari, where PPP’s Shah Jahan Baloch was vying for the same seat as MQM’s Nabeel Gabol. But here, markets were open and people, especially youngsters were dancing to the tune of Balochi and Sindhi songs, shouting support for PPP. The area might have a reputation for violence, but it remained peaceful on polling day.

At the other end of the city, near Landhi, people didn’t even have to make it all the way to the polling station to discover that their right to vote had been snatched. “You guys don’t need to go to the polling stations as your votes have already been cast,” an activist of a political party told a couple just as they were about to head out to vote.

According to Ashraf Samo, PPP candidate, the democratic process was also derailed in Malir. Reports of the hijacking of the election process also surfaced in NA-253. Umair, a 26-year-old man who did not get to cast his vote made an appeal to the authorities to declare the votes in his constituency null and void. “You can rig all you want. Karachi will not take your rubbish this time.”

Situation in the rest of Sindh

Violence also ensued in parts of Upper Sindh, disrupting the election process here. Some party workers were bringing voters to polling stations in their vehicles. The staff complained about a lack of facilities and load-shedding during the midnight and in the early morning. In Larkana, the police arrested PPP activist Ghulam Rasool at the Baqrani tower polling station, trying to cast fake vote.



Women Participation: Voting In The Shadow Of Dreams

By Abdur Rauf and Riaz Ahmed

May 12, 2013

Women across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) were expected to be a tentative swing vote. And in the face of blatant and frequent threats from the Taliban, women still showed up – even in areas considered ‘highly sensitive’ like Badhaber. Some even defied the men of their area to ink their thumbs.

Unfortunately women in certain localities could not exercise their right to vote and in some cases were allegedly manipulated to vote at the behest of candidates. Ban for women voters also surfaced at certain localities at the eleventh hour.

However, when the final results turn up, by their presence or their absence, women voters would have directly contributed to the next Government of Pakistan.

NA-1 Peshawar-I

The turnout in NA-1 was in the thousands. This was especially significant as women were seen forming long queues outside polling stations – even in areas such as Shaikhabad, Zagarabad, Afrido Garhi and Rasheedabad where women were usually not allowed to step out of their homes.

Voting slowed down substantially at the polling station at Faqirabad Government College as the presiding officer did not show up. Women who were not on the same list as the rest of their family members (a common complaint) tended to not go out on their own to vote.

Many political parties had been predicting the female vote could be a game changer for poll outcomes. NA-1 might be one area where this might be an actual possibility.

NA-2 Peshawar-II

Men in five villages on the outskirts of Peshawar did not ‘allow’ women to vote as per “local tradition”. Landi Bala, Landi Payan, Sangu, Achini and Haji Banda lie adjacent to Shalober, Khyber Agency and women polling stations there remained deserted throughout Election Day.

All five lie within NA-2 and PK-6. Their inhabitants proudly claim women have not been allowed to cast votes in any election in the history of the villages.

Local elder and former nazim Wahidullah Khan told The Express Tribune previously, villagers would unanimously decide not to allow female participation in elections, but this year no such decision was taken. However, women still did not turn up to vote.

Awami National Party (ANP) representative Shaukat Khan expressed a similar opinion. “It is not our tradition (women voting) and I think people respect it.”

Rahmat Ali, another elder, disagreed. He pointed out “nearly all surrounding villages let women vote” because not doing so was “against the local tradition.”

There were approximately 1,500 females registered to vote in the list provided by the Election Commission Pakistan (ECP) to the Landi Bala polling station. “Not a single vote has been cast,” said the polling officer who had been there since 6am.

Locals observed the turnout for male voters was ‘record; but nothing new for women voters.’

NA-4 Peshawar-IV

The constituency showed strength of force in the face of threats by those claiming voting was ‘anti-Islam’ and thronged to polling stations to vote.

In addition to the expected male voters, a surprisingly large number of women turned up to cast their ballots. This was short-lived as after 11am female polling was banned at a majority of stations with the consent of political parties.

“I did not allow my wife to visit the polling station due to Taliban threats. But I was in a state of shock after seeing a number of women casting their vote,” a voter from Pasanni village at the NA-4/PK-10 polling station bordering Frontier Region Peshawar told The Express Tribune over the phone, requesting anonymity.

Women turned up in large numbers at the Government Higher Secondary School in Badhaber – to the point that the army was called in to quell fights.  Frontier Constabulary and the police were already present in large numbers and were found unnecessarily crowding the stations.

According to voters, a fight broke out between ANP and the Pakistan Peoples Party workers, at which point the candidates arrived to intervene, making things worse. The army eventually dispersed the media and the extraneous men to take control of the situation, after which polling stopped. Till the filing of this report, it could not be determined if polling resumed.

In Government Girls Primary School Garhi Qamardeen, PK-6, “only five females used their right to vote, while the others went back. I don’t know why, but people said political parties had agreed to prevent women from taking part in the elections,” said Shabana, the presiding officer.

While women voted at the Government Middle School Hazar Khwani, an undue influence of policemen could be noted in the female polling booth. They were seen scolding women, ferrying them inside booths and crowding entrances.

Consequently, polling stopped midway, amidst accusations of the ANP interfering because of a perceived Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) victory.

Elsewhere in K-P

In NA-11 Mardan-III, male voters at two polling stations at the Government Middle School Surhabai-Rustam decided not to allow women to cast ballots at the combined station.

There were reports of brawls at NA-12 Swabi-I, which broke out following frequent visits by a candidate to the women’s polling station.

Polling booths were shifted without notice at the eleventh hour from Government Girls Primary School to a high school in another locality. Stuck without transport, many women voters had to turn back without voting.

In a last minute decision, women voters were barred from casting ballots in Paharkhel, NA-27 Lakki Marwat. It was a call made by tribal elders headed by Sharifullah and Goharzad.

Men forcefully stopped women from casting votes in various villages in NA-28 Buner. “In Dherai, Malakpur and Matwanai, elders unanimously decided not to allow women to cast votes. The decision was accepted by all political parties too,” said Shaukat Yousafzai, a local reporter.

Reports indicated women were not allowed to vote in Nogram. However, polling went smoothly in the rest of Buner where men and women participated enthusiastically.

In Frontier Region (FR) Peshawar, not a single woman turned up, despite announcements made by the administration urging females to cast their votes.

Across Swat (NA-29 and NA-30), women were seen participating, in spite of issues reported in many tehsils.

In Kabal and Matta, workers and political agents of certain political parties reportedly forced women to vote in their favour. After voters complained, the army was called in to streamline the polling process, according to Fazal Wadood, a resident of Kabal.

Turnout in many female polling stations was very low, but for the first time in history, all the female polling stations were functional and had women polling.



Manmohan Singh Felicitates Nawaz Sharif

LAHORE: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Sindh has felicitated Nawaz Sharif whose Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz emerged as the largest party in Saturday’s historic polls.

 Mr Singh telephoned the former prime minister on Sunday and expressed the hope that he would play his role for better coordination between Islamabad and New Delhi.



Indo-Pak Ties Will Improve, If Nawaz Comes To Power: Salman Khurshid

 May 12, 2013

NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid today hoped that India would continue to have good relations with Pakistan if former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif comes to power after the general elections there.

 "India welcomes whatever result that comes out of a democratic election. Our government has had relations with Nawaz Sharif. From Prime Minister's side also congratulations will be offered to him," Mr Khurshid said.

 "I hope we can continue to have good relations if he comes to power," he said.

 Mr Sharif was today set for a third term as Pakistan's Prime Minister as his PML-N party took a massive lead over its rivals in early poll results, making a remarkable comeback after having been toppled in a military coup in 1999 and sent into exile. He returned to Pakistan shortly before the 2008 polls and rebuilt his party.,-if-Nawaz-comes-to-power:-Salman-Khurshid