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Why the General Elections of 2013 in Pakistan will be Unique?


This audio identifies the factors that make the general elections of Pakistan in 2013, unique and historic.

(Click the play button above to listen)

Editorial Content of the Audio

Pakistan’s road towards democracy has been full of hurdles. The incumbent ruling coalition of the Pakistan People’s Party ( also known as the PPP) is the first democratically elected government in the history of Pakistan to complete its five-year term. However, the nation paid a heavy price for this. PPP’s leader and former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated after addressing a public rally in Liaqat Baagh Rawalpindi just when the elections of 2008 under General Musharraf were around the corner.

The dictator was ousted by the lawyers’ movement that supported the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Pakistan People’s Party marked an important democratic transition under the leadership of Asif Ali Zardari (widower of late Benazir Bhutto). Despite heavy criticism from the opposition for PPP’s bad governance, ill-management of energy crisis and record levels of corruption, the party is moving towards the end of its complete term.

The general elections of 2013 will be unique for a number of reasons.

To name a major few;

  • it is for the first time that political parties got a time span of 5 years to engage with the local population.
  • Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician has attracted a sizeable number of youth that constitutes more than half of the total population of Pakistan. Ascribing the word Tsunami with it, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf under the leadership of Imran Khan presents itself as a symbol for change in Pakistan.
  • It is for the first time that politicians are using social media, information networks like Twitter to reach the masses.
  • Public rallies were in full swing during the years 2011 and 2012. Including the historic public address of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Chief Imran Khan.
  • The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is constantly working to ensure that the elections in 2013 should be free and fair by all means.
  • The Supreme Court of Pakistan made some unprecedented verdicts on the socio-political issues of the country including reforms in the electoral process.
  • The upcoming general elections will be the most expensive ones in the history of Pakistan. The ECP has estimated that Rs 5.90 billion in expenses will be incurred during the election compared to Rs 1.45 billion spent in 2008. Moreover, the 180 million ballot papers printed for the election will be watermarked!
  • Last but not the least, ‘political songs’ echoed the most in rallies of Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf. Pop singer Abrar ul Haq sided with Imran Khan and Fakhir Mehmood, another singer of Pakistan, joined Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.pakistan_elections

¬†What is left to be seen is that how these factors will mould voting behaviour in Pakistan where most of the voters are ’emotionally-charged’ and literacy rate isn’t satisfactory.

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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Audio

 

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Who hijacked the spring at Egypt?


While witnessing the transitions which plagued the Arab world with the coveted disease of ‘revolutionary changes’, Egypt managed to topple down the 30 year old regime of the mighty Muhammad Hosni El Sayed Mubarak. The longest-serving ruler had to descend down from his throne as the chorus which demanded for a ‘change’ in the political set up of the country continued to burgeon up at Tahrir square. There are so many people who claim that the protests and demonstrations that erupted in Cairo were not led by anyone. Social media is often labelled as the leader of this revolution which ultimately ousted the stalwart dictator after 18 days of turmoil at the beginning of 2011. Not only this, but headlines which an Egyptian couldn’t have gone through during his/her wildest dreams grabbed ample space on the front pages of most of the newspapers -dictator behind the bars. Murder and corruption trial of the former Egyptian President was something next to impossible. .

These rapid fluctuations paved the way for elections in Egypt. 2012 serves a completely different political atmosphere for the once oppressed Egyptians. By far this chunk of Middle East is the biggest prize for democracy in the Arab world and will continue to be, but to what extent in the favour of those who gave the payment? The military, having allowed the people to choose their representatives by the end of 2011 has taken the credit of Egypt’s historic elections by stepping out of the way itself after keeping a lot of privileges though. The recent polls in Egypt apart from being ‘historic’ provided a pleasant respite to the protesters as they were now the voters and didn’t have to participate in never-ending rallies, give interviews and adverts. The country had voted before, but those were just deceptive designs to give Mubarak’s regime a veil of democratic legitimacy, even though it was an open secret that the numbers reflected the support the president thought he needed rather than the support he had; hence the frequent 90%-plus winning percentages Mubarak’s officials would announce to a population that knew what to expect.

Elections saga is at an entirely different dimension followed by frenzy and fervent voters who now have a considerable choice of 13 candidates. There are three names out of the 13 candidates that are consistently ahead of the pack: the Muslim Brotherhood‘s Mohammed Mursi, the secular Amr Moussa and the enigmatic Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh. Consequently, there is a stiff competition between the Hosni Mubarak-era figures and the Islamists (neither of them were the heroes of the young, liberal and technocratic Egyptians who are the original revolutionaries of Egypt). The worst form of injustice that could be done to the tweets from the Tahrir square would be to put the voters in a situation where they have no other choice then to vote for the Islamist fundamentalists or the remains of Mubarak. Admit it or not the Arab spring which ignited the Arab world like fire is getting extinguished at Egypt and that too in a very neat manner. The revolutionaries fought for their right to self-determination, but before they could have managed to reach the ladder of appointing their own government, the spring had been hijacked!

Originally published in Jahangir World Times Magazine- June 2012
http://www.jworldtimes.com/Article/62012_WHO_HIJACKED_THE_SPRING_AT_EGYPT

 
 

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