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The tiger roars again: PTI fails to stop ‘N’ juggernaut; Punjab punishes PPP
By Our Special Correspondent
ISLAMABAD, May 11: On Saturday night, the tiger’s roar was heard all over the Punjab and the PTI wave was visible in Peshawar valley and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. .
The people of Pakistan spoke, casting aside fears of attacks, and cast their votes — and in what appeared to be bigger numbers than witnessed in earlier elections.
Though none of the results had been finalised by the time the paper went to print, the early unofficial results were enough to make some trends evident.
The PML-N seemed to be set to emerge as the single largest party.
In fact, minutes before midnight, the Sharif brothers addressed their workers and supporters to announce their victory.
The younger Sharif announced that “Nawaz Sharif will be your [the people’s] prime minister and I will be your servant.”
The elder Sharif then thanked the people and God for the opportunity to serve Pakistan.
“We will fulfil all our promises to you,” he said, adding that he was certain that the party would emerge as the single largest party that needed no outside support or “borrowed seats”.
He then promised not to hold grudges and forgive all those who had insulted him and Shahbaz Sharif.
It was clearly Nawaz Sharif’s victory speech.
The PTI wave seems to have come in, though the predicted Tsunami evaded the shores of Pakistan’s electoral results.
As the unofficial, partial results poured in, the wave first hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Khan was leading in NA 1 with such a huge margin in the unofficial results against the ANP stalwart Ghulam Bilour that the former federal minister conceded defeat without even waiting for the official announcement.
Even in the other two National Assembly constituencies of the remaining three in Peshawar city, the PTI was leading.
However, in Punjab, the PML-N’s GT Road juggernaut did not seem to have slowed down much by the PTI.
In Lahore, which was being seen as the main battleground of the Sharifs and Khan, the tension in the air was palpable earlier in the day, but by the time night fell, the ‘Sher’ seemed to be prowling the streets and roads except for four or so seats — NA 125 (Hamid Khan versus Khwaja Saad Rafique); NA 126 (Shafqat Mahmood versus Khwaja Ahmed Hasan); NA 122 (Imran Khan versus Sardar Ayaz Sadiq) and 128 (where both parties had fielded members of the Khokhar clan) — where a close contest continued.
However, in Pindi, the PTI seemed to be better placed.
Sheikh Rashid, for instance, who enjoyed the support of the PTI in NA 55 seemed close to a victory.
In fact, his supporters had already begun celebrating near Lal Haveli, the residence of Ahmed.
Similarly Khan was fighting a tough contest in NA 56 against the PML-N’s Hanif Abbasi.
Elsewhere too it seemed the PML-N held its ground from Narowal to Sialkot.
On the other hand, as the PPP appeared to be facing a near wipeout in upper Punjab — its various luminaries such as Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Samina Ghurki and Qamar Zaman Kaira seemed to be in trouble. Even Firdous Ashiq Awan and Manzoor Wattoo seemed to be losing.
In south Punjab and Sindh there appeared to be little change.
The expected ‘electables’ of south Punjab such as Jehangir Tareen and Makhdoom Syed Mustafa Mahmood, a son of the current Punjab governor who dominates Rahimyar Khan district, were winning — the former on a PTI ticket and the latter on a PPP ticket. However, the results from the region were far from as detailed as upper Punjab.
In Sindh too the PPP was comfortably leading on the seats it has always bagged.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the ANP and PPP seemed to be set for the predicted drubbing while the PTI was doing surprisingly well.
In Balochistan, the security issues ruled supreme — at many places the ECP staff didn’t turn up for the polling to begin while there were a few incidents of violence that also proved unsettling.
Earlier in the day, the expectations and predictions of a higher turnout were proved right.
Though there were only eyewitness accounts of people, polling officers and journalists, everyone agreed that the number of people who turned out to vote was considerably high.
Polling station officers reported that voters had begun arriving as early as eight in the morning when the doors were first opened.
“There were two or three people present when we began in the morning,” said a presiding officer in a polling station in Rawalpindi.
A journalist based in Peshawar also said that the turnout in the city, which had witnessed a number of devastating attacks since the beginning of 2013, was high. “Most surprisingly, women were out with their children to vote,” he told Dawn.
The young and the old, children and parents and friends turned up at polling stations in most parts of the country.
Reports that poured in from most parts of the country, especially the urban centres, reported long queues at polling stations.
Eventually the Election Commission of Pakistan was compelled to provide an extra hour for voting, extending the deadline to six in the evening for most of the country; in Karachi it was extended to eight O’clock.
We have a huge turnout in Punjab,” commission secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed told a news conference.
There were fortunately no wholesale violence and mayhem on the day as some had feared, though Karachi was not spared once again. Two blasts in Karachi’s Quaidabad and Qasba areas in the early part of the day claimed 13 lives.
Though attacks and the resulting deaths were the most tragic events of Saturday, the commercial centre of Pakistan remained in the news all day — and for all the wrong reasons.
There were complaints of rigging and the use of strong arm tactics by some political parties which eventually led the Jamaat-i-Islami to announce a boycott of the electoral exercise in Karachi.
Later the ECP also jumped into the fray and cancelled the exercise in some polling stations of the city in NA 250, PS 112 and PS 113, adding that the new schedule would be announced later.
Poll-related violence claims 38 lives
KARACHI/QUETTA/PESHAWAR, May 11: Attacks, bomb explosions and violent clashes marked the polling day across the country on Saturday, killing at least 38 people and injuring over 150 others. .
The day started in Karachi with a powerful bomb blast apparently targeting an Awami National Party (ANP) candidate in the densely populated Landhi area.
Two Rangers personnel were killed and six others injured in a suicide attack in Manghopir.
Eleven people, a little boy among them, were killed and 45 others, including 11 children, were injured in the Landhi blast, according to hospital and police sources.
“Ostensibly, terrorists tried to target the ANP candidate for PS 28, Amanullah Mehsud, who was visiting polling camps, but he remained unhurt,” said Mazhar Nawaz Sheikh, Senior Superintendent of Police, Malir.
Mr Mehsud’s gunmen and activists surrounding him were among the dead and the injured.
“We received 11 bodies, including a three-year-old boy, and 45 injured, 11 children among them,” said Dr Seemin Jamali, head of the emergency ward of Jinnah Post-Graduate Medical Centre. She said the condition of seven injured, including three children, was critical.
The SSP said the bomb weighing about 6kg was attached to the gas cylinder of a rickshaw. It was detonated by remote control.
“It was an improvised explosive device which also contained ball bearings,” a bomb disposal squad official said.
The two Rangers personnel were killed and six others injured when a bomber rammed his explosives-laden motorcycle into their checkpoint at the New Nazimabad project in Manghopir, according to police.
Superintendent of Police Captain Chaudhry Asad said the head of the bomber had been in the scene. According to him, the bomber was accompanied by a terrorist on another bike. When Rangers and police started pursuing him, other terrorists took position behind a hill and opened fire on the security personnel.
In the ensuing exchange of fire, two terrorists were killed, the police officer claimed.
A bomb explosion in a coach killed one person and injured four others in Orangi Town, according to police. The bomb was planted on the backseat of the coach.
Terrorists threw a grenade outside a polling station in Saeedabad area, injuring one man.
A cracker was hurled at the office of a Jamaat-i-Islami leader in the Frontier Colony. Two people were injured.
A religious party’s candidate for NA 253 was feared to have been kidnapped in Shah Faisal Colony. The Majlis-i-Wahdatul Muslimeen’s candidate, along with his guard and coordinator, was kidnapped on his way polling camps in Gulistan-i-Jauhar, the party’s spokesman Asghar Taqvi said.
He said the party’s two candidates — Maulana Mohammad Hussain Karimi (NA 250) and Shakir Ali Rajani (PS 117) — were beaten at a polling station in Soldier Bazaar.
A violent clash between the workers of two rival parties in New Karachi Industrial Area left one passer-by dead. A police officer said the young man was passing through the area in Khamiso Goth when he was hit by bullets and killed on the spot.
Welcome to the victory party
By Cyril Almeida
LAHORE, May 11: A little past 9pm in the Sharif campaign headquarters in Model Town, as jubilant, flag-waving supporters begin to arrive in droves, an architect of the PML-N’s campaign says, “Welcome to the victory party”. .
Inside, the Sharifs, Nawaz, Maryam and other family members, are keeping a watchful eye on TV as early results are pouring in. Senior PML-N leaders are milling around, constantly checking their phones for updates from the field.
Nawaz himself is in a cautious mood, still refusing to be drawn into speculation about how many seats his party can win but hammering away at his line that the country needs a clear majority to address the serious problems that confront it.
“I’ve said all along, whichever party wins, it needs to have a clear majority. It’s not about me or about any party,” Sharif says.
The ostensible prime minister-elect, though, cannot hide his irritation at what he sees as the PML-N being pegged back by a joint PTI-PPP barrage.
“Both of these parties have attacked us. Look at what that lady Firdous Ashiq Awan did just to try and undermine a big leader of ours, Khwaja Asif,” Sharif complains, referring to the PPP’s Awan withdrawing her candidacy against Asif in reciprocal deal with the PTI hours before voting began on Saturday.
“Look at the power crisis,” Sharif continues. “Imran Khan says that the power crisis isn’t Zardari’s fault. If it isn’t Zardari’s fault then whose fault is it?” an incredulous Sharif asks.
As the minutes tick by, however, and the results begin to show a decisive swing towards the PML-N, Sharif’s demeanour changes. When handed a note informing him that unofficial results had him winning his seat in Sargodha, Sharif breaks out into a smile.
Nearby, Pervez Rasheed, a PML-N senator and a close Sharif confidant, offers his own assessment. “The spoilers have done their bit. There’s no wave,” Rasheed says with a wry smile. “The spoilers did what was needed of them,” Rasheed continues, referring to the PTI.
Maryam Nawaz, constantly checking her phone and glued to the TV, offers her own assessment of the election. “If, as you say, we were given a scare, I’d say the reason is the PPP,” the daughter of Nawaz says of the PTI challenge that ultimately sputtered. “This electricity crisis, this governance mess, people may have started to think about us in the same way.”
But Maryam Nawaz also admits that the PML-N has some soul-searching to do: “The party needs to be re-organised. We haven’t really focused on the party and keeping it strong. Our MNAs and MPAs didn’t do much for the party, they focused more on the government side of things.”
With the mood quickly turning celebratory, aides are quietly already turning to what comes next.
“The army,” says one Sharif aide,
voluntarily bringing up the fraught issue of relations between the army and Sharif. “In our strategy meetings, we discussed it and Mian Sahib seemed to understand that it isn’t that big a challenge, that it can be handled relatively easily. But Mian Sahib has a tendency to go off on his own tangent,” the aide says, his voice trailing off.
Maryam Nawaz, though, believes her father will handle matters differently this time. “He is a different man,” she says. “He’s seasoned, he’s a statesman, he has understanding, he’s a mature leader,” Sharif’s daughter says, downplaying the possibility of friction with army.
And talk also begins to switch to who will be in which office in a PML-N government. Will Shahbaz Sharif really quit Punjab chief ministership for the federal water and power ministry to try and address the energy crisis?
“He’ll be up for it. But if he leaves Punjab, then that will open all sorts of delicate questions about who takes his place. That question may be too difficult, so leaving could be a problem,” the aide says.
Earlier, in his election camp office, Shafqat Mahmood, a PTI contender in Lahore, was already reflecting on the PTI expectations falling far short of reality. “Honestly, I’m not seeing a landslide. We should have done better,” Mahmood says.
In Mahmood’s assessment of his own seat, NA-126 in Lahore, lies a clue about why the PML-N has surged to enormous gains in Punjab while leaving the PTI trailing.
“Our strategy was to sweep the posh areas and divide the poorer parts,” Mahmood says.But the strategy failed overall because the PML-N appears to have made inroads into the less-well-off sections of Punjab’s population, historically a PPP vote bank.
“We protected our base,” a Sharif aide says. “The club-going, mummy-daddy crowd, the upper class, was never with us to begin with. But we won a vote this time that we haven’t really before: poorer people.”
Late on Saturday night, there is no doubt that the established power has quashed the challenger. As PML-N supporters swarm the streets, bringing traffic to a halt, dancing and singing on main thoroughfares, the PTI wave of support, so obvious until hours earlier, has already melted away.
Gone are the cricket bats and out have come the stuffed lions.
PTI’s surprise victory in KP
PESHAWAR, May 11: The Awami National Party’s rout had become quite evident even before the polling day, but few people outside the PTI camp were expecting such a significant victory for Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in Peshawar and many other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkwa..
As results started pouring in the first major upset came in the form of Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour losing to Imran Khan in NA-1.
Mr Bilour, acting like a seasoned politician, was quick to accept his defeat.
The results that trickled in the next few hours made it quite clear that PTI was the major winner in Peshawar valley, Swat and many other areas of KP where pundits were predicting different results.
And the PTI victory was not just confined to the National Assembly seats, as early results suggested that either its candidates had won on a large number of provincial assembly seats, or it was clearly ahead of ANP, JUI and other opponents in many constituencies. Although a clearer picture will emerge around noon on Sunday, experts had already started to predict a possible PTI-led government in KP.
PTI ready for role as opposition party
By Nasir Jamal
LAHORE, May 11: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) may be down after Punjab ignored its call for ‘change’ on Saturday, but it is not out. .
“Overall the PTI has emerged as the second largest national party, capable of playing the role of a strong, active opposition in the National Assembly and independently forming the provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” Asad Omar, a central PTI leader, told Dawn.
Omar sounded confident of a future for his party in national politics and did not appear disappointed at its poorer-than-expected electoral performance in Punjab.
“The number of seats the PTI has secured from Punjab is probably a little less than what we had expected. Overall, it is a great day for the PTI because it has emerged as the second largest national party and will be able to independently form its government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and play the role of a strong opposition (in the National Assembly),” he said.
“Did we expect more seats from Punjab? Yes, we did. But we had never expected to (obtain majority seats from the province and) form government at the centre,” he frankly admitted. He, however, said it was a little early to say anything on the number of seats the PTI would win because the results were still coming. “The picture will clear by the morning and we (PTI leadership) are meeting on Sunday to determine our course of action,” he said.
Omar ruled out the possibility of the PTI becoming part of a coalition at the national level, but did not rule out partnering with some smaller parties to form its government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa if it did not obtain enough provincial assembly seats.
NYT bureau chief expelled
ISLAMABAD, May 11: The government ordered the bureau chief of New York Times in Islamabad to leave the country on the eve of general elections for ‘indulging in undesirable activities’, the newspaper said on Friday. .
A two-sentence letter was delivered by police officers to the home of the bureau chief, Declan Walsh, at 12.30am on Thursday, it said.
“It is informed that your visa is hereby canceled in view of your undesirable activities,” the Times quoted the letter as saying. “You are therefore advised to leave the country within 72 hours.”
The newspaper protested the action and urged the government to reconsider the move, said Danielle Rhoades Ha, a company spokeswoman.
“We respectfully request that you overturn this decision and allow Mr Walsh to remain in Pakistan,” wrote Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson in a letter to the interior minister, Ha said.
Ms Abramson’s letter described Mr Walsh as a “reporter of integrity who has at all times offered balanced, nuanced and factual reporting on Pakistan”.
Mr Walsh has lived and worked in Pakistan for nine years, most of the time for The Guardian newspaper of Britain. He was hired by the Times in January 2012.
The journalist has written about the country’s political strife, insurgency and sometimes tense relations with the United States.—Agencies
Five parties boycott elections in Karachi
KARACHI, May 11: Four religious parties, the Jamaat-i-Islami, Sunni Tehreek, Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan and the Sunni Ittehad Council, and Mohajir Qaumi Movement (Haqiqi) pulled out their candidates from the electoral race in Karachi, while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement also partially boycotted polling in a few constituencies citing allegations of poll irregularities and rigging on Saturday..
Even parties like the PPP, PTI, PML-N and the Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen joined the chorus against the Election Commission of Pakistan and law-enforcement agencies and criticised them for their failure to conduct free, fair and transparent elections in certain constituencies.
Most of the parties which completely boycotted the polling in the middle of the day also accused the MQM of rigging.
JI chief Syed Munawar Hasan alleged that armed men of the MQM had terrorised voters in Karachi and Hyderabad making it difficult for them to freely exercise their right of vote.
Addressing a press conference, he endorsed the decision of the Karachi and Hyderabad chapters of his party to boycott the poll in the two cities.
Karachi JI chief Mohammad Hussain Mehanti accused the MQM of kidnapping election staff and taking away election material from polling stations in several constituencies.
He gave a call for protests on Monday against incidents of alleged rigging. MQM-H: The MQM-Haqiqi led by Afaq Ahmed also boycotted the polls and accused the ECP and law-enforcement agencies of not following directives of superior judiciary about holding free and fair elections.
Speaking at a press conference, MQM-H leader Shamshad Ghori demanded that the ECP should hold fresh election for all Karachi seats in the presence of the army.
He also accused the MQM of forcibly occupying polling stations and denying access to the polling agents of his party. “We are supporting the strike call given by the JI against poll rigging in Karachi,” he added.
JUP: The JUP announced a boycott of elections in Karachi and Hyderabad.
JUP president Sahibzada Abul Khair Mohammad Zubair, who was contesting for NA-220 (Hyderabad) seat, said at a press conference that a particular party had hijacked polling stations in the district.
ST: Sunni Tehreek chief Sarwat Ejaz Qadri said his party decided to boycott the polls after its polling agents were beaten up and polling stations were occupied by ‘Thappa mafia’.
He demanded re-election in Karachi under the supervision of the army so that real representatives of people could reach parliament.
Sunni Ittehad Council leader Tariq Mehboob said it had boycotted the elections because of widespread rigging, adding that his party would not accept the results.
He demanded fresh elections under the supervision of the army. The MQM boycotted polls in one NA and two PA constituencies of Lyari.
Its leader Nabil Gabol told reporters that ‘terrorists of Lyari gang war’ carried out massive rigging in over 65 polling stations in NA-248 and PS-108 and 109. “The ECP was approached several times, but no action was taken, giving credibility to a perception that the commission is also a part of a conspiracy against the MQM.”
He demanded fresh polling in the three constituencies.
40 dead in Turkey car bombings
ISTANBUL, May 11: Two explosives-laden cars blew up in a small Turkish town near the border with Syria on Saturday, killing at least 40 people and injuring 100 in one of the deadliest recent attacks in the volatile area..
The bombings in the town of Reyhanli, just a few kilometres from the main border crossing into Syria, come amid increasingly bellicose criticism by Ankara of the regime in Damascus.
Interior Minister Muammer Guler said the explosions were caused by car bombs that blew up near the town hall and the post office in Reyhanli, according to the Anatolia news agency.
Guler told NTV television that the death toll had climbed to 40 and that 100 people were injured, updating an earlier toll given by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Twenty-nine survivors were in a serious condition, Guler said.
Rescuers were hunting for possible survivors buried underneath the rubble of buildings destroyed by the blasts.
Over a dozen ambulances and several air ambulances rushed to the scene to tend to the victims, Turkish NTV television said, adding that the town hall had suffered major damage.
A number of cars were also completely wrecked in the attacks whose force caused a power cut in the area around Reyhanli, local media reported.
Guler said the regional governor had been sent to Reyhanli “to put the necessary security measures in place” following the attack.
The attack sowed panic among residents in Reyhanli, a town of about 60,000 people, leading to tensions between local youths and Syrian refugees living locally and forcing police to fire into the air to disperse the crowd.
Thousands of refugees who fled the Syrian crisis are living in Reyhanli and a refugee camp adjacent to the town.
Reyhanli lies in southern Turkey near the Cilvegozu crossing opposite Syria’s rebel-controlled Bab al-Hawa border post, the busiest crossing between the two countries.
The border area has witnessed a number of deadly attacks as the conflict in Syria spills over into Turkey, whose government was once an ally of President Bashar Al-Assad but has become one of its harshest critics.
In February, a car bomb attack at Cilvegozu which Turkey blamed on Syrian intelligence agents killed 17 people and injured another 30.
Earlier this month, one police officer was killed and six other people injured when Syrians trying to cross into Turkey opened fire in a border buffer zone.
In a statement Syria’s opposition condemned Saturday’s attacks, saying they were destined to pit Turks and Syrians against each other.
“The coalition sees these heinous terrorist acts an attempt to take revenge on the Turkish people and punish them for their honourable support of the Syrian people (…)”The bombings were “a desperate and failed attempt to sow discord”, the statement added.—AFP
Repolling ordered in 43 polling stations of NA-250
By Our Staff Reporter
KARACHI, May 11: The Election Commission of Pakistan ordered repolling in 43 of the 180 polling stations in a National Assembly constituency of Karachi after receiving complaints of rigging. .
An official of the provincial election commission told Dawn that the date for repolling in the 43 polling stations of NA-250 and its provincial assembly constituencies would be announced later.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Khushbakht Shujaat and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Dr Arif Alvi are among the main contestants in the constituency that comprises posh neighbourhoods of Defence and Clifton as well as Burnes Road and PNT Colony.
JI’s Naimatullah Khan pulled out of the contest after his party boycotted the election.
Shahbaz set to become CM again
By Amjad Mahmood
LAHORE, May 12: The stage is set for Shahbaz Sharif to become chief minister of Punjab for the fourth time as the PML-N does not seem inclined to try a new face for the top post in its citadel. .
Leaders of the party discussed plans for forming governments at the centre and in the provinces at an informal consultative meeting at the Raiwind residence of its chief Nawaz Sharif on Sunday.
A PML-N leader told Dawn that there was a consensus in the meeting that Shahbaz Sharif was the best choice for managing the affairs of Punjab, the party’s stronghold.
He claimed that the party had earlier considered Chaudhry Nisar Ali for the post that was the reason the Leader of Opposition in the last National Assembly had contested for a provincial assembly seat.
But the rising challenge from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had forced the PML-N to change its plan and decide to continue with Shahbaz Sharif as chief minister to fortify its position in the province, he said.
Shahbaz Sharif himself dropped a hint to the effect by calling himself Nokar (servant) of the people in his victory speech on Saturday evening. He had adopted the title of Khadim-i-Ala (chief servant) in his previous stint as chief minister.
The PML-N leader said that they were contacting other parties to explore the possibility of forming governments in other provinces, particularly Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the PTI had emerged as the single largest party. But the PML-N appears to be in a position to form a coalition government there if it manages to rope in the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and independents.
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman called Nawaz Sharif on Sunday and discussed with him the possibility of a coalition in KP. Later the Maulana contacted JI chief Munawwar Hasan, Aftab Sherpao of the Qaumi Watan Party and other likely allies.
Answering a question about the formation of the federal government, the PML-N leader said that although the party was in a position to form the government on its own, it had decided to take along other parties like the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and the PML-Functional.
About the federal cabinet, he said that in the first phase it would be a ‘smart’ one as the number of its members would not cross the double digit.
Chaudhry Nisar, Ishaq Dar, Ahsan Iqbal, Pervaiz Rashid, Mushahidullah Khan and Riaz Pirzada are likely to be taken in the cabinet in the first stage.
About portfolios, he said that Chaudhry Nisar was interested in foreign or interior ministry and Ishaq Dar was likely to become finance minister. Ahsan Iqbal may be given education ministry and Pervaiz Rashid information ministry, he said.
Plea for early convening of NA session: PML-N in a hurry to take up challenges
By Khawar Ghumman
ISLAMABAD, May 12: Although the constitution provides a window of 21 days after the election date to summon the session of the new National Assembly, the PML-N which has emerged as the single largest party plans to get into action as soon as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) officially announces the results..
Senator Mushahidullah Khan, information secretary of the PML-N, told Dawn that his party wanted to form the government soon in order to take up the manifold problems the country was facing.
He said the PML-N was hoping to secure a majority of 172 members in the house of 342 and it would definitely like early convening of the NA session so the new government could be formed without delay. Mr Khan said the National Assembly would have to adopt the federal budget by June 30 which also required early convening of its session.
Answering a question, he said after election results were officially announced, the caretaker government could be asked to immediately summon the National Assembly session.
Talking to Dawn, Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Ahmar Bilal Sufi said: “We are just waiting for the finalisation of election results which will be done in a day or two and after that we will decide when the National Assembly session can be called under the constitutional procedures.”
He said there would not be any delay because the caretaker government was aware of the constitutional requirement.
The prime minister will move a summary to the president to summon the National Assembly session. According to Article 224 (1) of the constitution, the ECP is bound to announce election results not later than 14 days of the holding of election.
Article 91 (2) says: “The National Assembly shall meet on the twenty-first day following the day on which a general election to the assembly is held, unless sooner summoned by the president.”
Indians salute Pakistani people, Singh invites Nawaz
By Jawed Naqvi
NEW DELHI, May 12: Indians across the board on Sunday saluted the people of Pakistan for their determined fight to protect and advance democracy in their troubled country as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited the clear winner to New Delhi to resume the bonhomie cut short by a military coup that toppled Mr Nawaz Sharif 14 years ago. .
Dr Singh wrote on his official Twitter account, “Congratulations to Mr Nawaz Sharif and his party for their emphatic victory in Pakistan’s elections.”
The Indian prime minister, beleaguered by a slew of corruption charges that have forced senior ministers to quit, congratulated “the people and the political parties of Pakistan for braving the threats of violence and voting in large numbers” in Saturday’s election.
He said he hoped to work with Mr Sharif to chart “a new course for the relationship” between the two countries and invited him to “visit India at a mutually convenient time”.
Indian journalist Karan Thapar who was in Pakistan to cover the polls lauded the voters on Sunday. “As we await the election results from Pakistan — and I believe we should have a clear idea of the outcome before the day is out, even if the outcome is not clear! — let’s pause and consider what sort of campaign it’s been. This was for many reasons a litmus test for Pakistan. And it’s passed it creditably. That deserves recognition,” Thapar wrote.
“First, it’s been an exceptionally, actually an unprecedentedly, violent campaign. Declaring ‘We are not in favour of democracy’, the Taliban threatened to bomb the electoral rallies of secular parties like the PPP, the MQM and the ANP. By one reliable count, on an average 10 to 15 people were killed daily. As Bushra Gohar of the ANP put it: ‘This is pre-poll rigging’. You could hardly disagree.
“Yet that didn’t deter candidates. They found ways, effective or symbolic, of overcoming this hurdle. In the process some martyred themselves for the cause of democracy.”
The Hindu said Dr Singh’s strategic policy managers heaved a sigh of relief over the relatively decisive mandate because this was the second item on India’s wishlist. The first was parties contesting the elections in Pakistan not bringing India on their agendas.
“Bilateral ties between India and Pakistan had stalled late last year over security issues — the hanging of Kashmiri separatist Afzal Guru and Mumbai attacker Ajmal Kasab, a skirmish that ended with the beheading of an Indian soldier, and the beating to death of two prisoners in each other’s jails,” The Hindu noted.
It said Dr Singh’s security managers felt the clear mandate would make it much easier to work with Islamabad in building up a bilateral relationship. But it would be ideal if the new government was more in control of security and foreign policy issues.
The Hindu said its sources had in mind the Mumbai attacks of 2008 and the Kargil attack almost a decade earlier, both under the watch of democratic governments in Pakistan. “These attacks completely roiled the delicate political and diplomatic attempts at mending bilateral fences. Between Kargil and Mumbai, public mood towards Pakistan was soured, as the police blamed many of the bomb blasts on Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).”
The government feels that India’s vastly improved political, military and economic balance with Pakistan has removed anxieties in dealing with Islamabad, The Hindu said. “But doubts about Pakistan’s Deep State charting an independent path persist.”
PPP terms Punjab results ‘manipulated’
By Zulqernain Tahir
LAHORE, May 12: The PPP sees the results of the May 11 polls in Punjab as ‘manipulated’ and has vowed to come up with evidence to prove its allegation. .
“There was total rigging. We are taking feedback from our candidates in the province and will present the evidence before the media soon,” PPP secretary general Sardar Latif Khosa told Dawn on Sunday.
However, most of the losing PPP candidates privately blame loadshedding and inflation as the major causes of their rout in Punjab.
The PPP could manage to get only one National Assembly seat in Punjab, according to unofficial results. In 2008, it had won over 50 seats in the province, most of them in south Punjab.
“There has been a complete failure on the part of the Election Commission which failed to stop use of the state machinery by the PML-N to rig the elections,” Mr Khosa said, adding that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf was also complaining about rigging.
He said prior to the election the PPP had brought to the notice of the ECP numerous instances of violation of the code of conduct committed by the PML-N but it never bothered to address them.
To a question about whether the PPP was going to reject the results in Punjab, the former governor said: “We have not decided yet.”
Mr Khosa said the party (PML-N) which had won most seats was not even expecting ‘such a huge victory’ in Punjab.
PPP information secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira said the party was assessing ‘what went wrong’ in Saturday’s elections.
Lahore PPP president Samina Ghurki expressed her surprise over the ‘phenomenal’ election turnout. “It appeared that angels cast the votes at the last minute to give victory to our opponents,” she said.
Ms Ghurki, who lost to Sohail Shaukat Butt of the PML-N in NA 130, said rigging could not be ruled out.
In background interviews, some defeated PPP candidates from Lahore blamed loadshedding as a major reason for their defeat. “There are complaints of rigging but loadshedding has cost us a large number of seats in the province,” said a candidate who had lost a National Assembly seat with a huge margin.
A PPP candidate from the south said: “We are disappointed to see the results in the southern belt because we were expecting a good number of seats from here because of the issue of south Punjab which the PPP had advocated well.”
He said the PTI factor had also dented the PPP vote bank.
Five killed: Balochistan IGP escapes suicide attack
QUETTA, May 12: Balochistan’s Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Sukhera escaped a suicide attack here on Sunday night. Five people were killed and 68 others, 27 police personnel among them, injured in the attack. .
The powerful blast destroyed IGP’s official residence.
The IGP’s house is located in the high security zone on Zarghoon Road where the Governor’s House, Chief Minister’s House, official residence of the chief secretary, Civil Secretariat and other important government buildings are also situated.
The explosion damaged buildings within a radius of about two kilometres in the security zone.
Sources said that the suicide bomber in a mini-truck laden with explosives was chasing the IGP’s motorcade that was going to his official residence.
The bomber struck the vehicle outside the IGP’s residence.
“The suicide bomber rammed his vehicle loaded with 2,000 kg of explosives against the boulders near the IGP’s house,” Deputy Inspector General Investigation Syed Mobin Ahmed told Dawn.
The blast killed five people, including a child, and injured 68 others, including 12 police personnel who were escorting the IGP’s vehicle.
Sources in the bomb disposal squad said that there were rockets in the vehicle.
“The dead include two personnel of Frontier Corps whose bodies were taken to the Combined Military Hospital,” Mr Mobin said.
A student, who was passing through Zarghoon Road, was also killed.
Police personnel posted at a checkpost at the corner of the Governor’s House had tried to stop the vehicle, but failed.
After the blast, heavy firing started on Jinnah Road and in front of the Quetta Press Club.
Windowpanes of the offices of Dawn, bureaus of the Associated Press of Pakistan and Samaa TV and other nearby buildings were also shattered.—Saleem Shahid
Fazl moves to keep PTI out of power
By Ismail Khan
PESHAWAR, May 12: Living up to its reputation, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is again heading for a coalition government, triggering a race among parties to out-manoeuvre each other and gather partners. .
As predicted, the results have been fractious though interesting, giving the major contenders a chance to have a shot at forming the provincial government.
But of all the parties, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf with a tally of 35 seats is in a stronger position to form the government. Independents, after the JUI-F and the PML-N, have emerged as the fourth largest group in the assembly and hold the key to the citadel in Peshawar.
From the look of it, if the PTI does make an effort to form the next government, it could look up to the independents and the seven Jamaat-i-Islami members. And the effort has begun in right earnest.
PTI’s secretary general and newly-elected MPA Pervez Khattak has moved into top gear for the job. An old campaigner, who under Aftab Sherpao’s tutelage had learned the skill of cobbling up alliances and out-manoeuvring rivals, he could become PTI’s first choice to head the coalition.
“There is no one else,” he said of himself as the party’s likely choice for the chief minister. “We are comfortably placed,” he told Dawn in the wee hours on Sunday morning, hours after the PTI had emerged as the largest party in the province. “The independents would come to us,” the PTI leader from Nowshera said.
And if need be, Khattak could also turn to his once-upon-a-time PPP leader, Aftab Sherpao, whose party has improved on its past performance and managed seven seats in the provincial assembly.
Another likely partner for the PTI could be the Awami Jamhuri Ittehad Pakistan — a wealthy cigarette-manufacturing Swabi-based, family-owned party that has secured three seats.
Knowing Imran Khan’s tirade against the JUI-F, PML-N, ANP and PPP, the PTI is unlikely to turn to any of them for help.
Indeed, the numbers game is so tricky and so open to manipulation that a conglomeration of three or more parties could cause an upset and throw a spanner in the works of other contenders.
And who else can spoil the broth for the PTI but the wily Maulana from Dera Ismail Khan? The JUI-F leader, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, has already taken the initiative and spoken to PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif on the possibility of forming the government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The JUI-F has secured 13 seats and is leading in another two whose results are awaited, which may raise its strength to 15. The PML-N has 12 seats. Fazlur Rehman can speak to Sherpao, with whom he had seat adjustment in Charasadda.
Maulana Fazl told reporters in Dera Ismail Khan that he had spoken to the PML-N chief and the two parties agreed to explore the possibility. “We can speak to Sherpao too.”
The PTI and the JUI-F have begun efforts to woo Mr Sherpao and it is learnt that JUI’s nominee for chief minister, former CM Akram Khan Durrani, was on his way to meet the former interior minister to mull over the issue.
And when it comes to realpolitik, Fazlur Rehman will have no qualms in aligning with either his former partner Jamaat-i-Islami, the ANP, PPP or retired Gen Pervez Musharraf’s lone MPA from Chitral.
So far, the PML-N leadership has not come up with any formal announcement in this regard. Its senior leader and former chief minister Sardar Mahtab Ahmad Khan said if he was asked for his opinion he would like to let the PTI form the provincial government.
“My personal opinion is: let the PTI form the government, implement its programme and show if it can serve as a role model for the rest of Pakistan,” the Sardar from Bakote said.
But in the final analysis, what may become the sole influencing and motivating factor for the political parties – except the PTI — to support the JUI-F move would be the PML-N government in Islamabad and its equation and relationship with any government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
‘Administration interfered with electoral process’: Imran promises ‘white paper’ on irregularities
By Nasir Jamal
LAHORE, May 12: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan alleged on Sunday that the elections had been rigged and pledged to produce a ‘white paper’ on poll irregularities and flaws..
“We have information that electoral results have been changed in different districts. There are reports the administration misused its authority and interfered with the electoral process. We are collecting evidence,” the injured PTI leader said in a video message from his hospital bed a day after his party received an unexpected drubbing at the hands of the PML-N in Punjab.
Allegations have already been made by others, including Balochistan National Party-Mengal leader Sardar Akhtar Mengal, who said the announcement of results in his area was being blocked and delayed. In Karachi, many political parties, among them Jamaat-i-lslami, boycotted the voting on Saturday and on Sunday PPP’s Faisal Karim Kundi tweeted: “Well planned game by the hidden hands. Time will tell how winning seats were converted to defeat.”
Imran Khan in his message vowed to play a better opposition (than Nawaz Sharif) inside and outside the parliament. But he regretted rigging had taken place in a landmark election that saw an unprecedented number of voters to turn out to “create a new Pakistan”.
“The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has admitted to this and re-polling in a Karachi constituency (NA-250) was proof (of the electoral irregularities),” he said.
He alleged his candidates had started losing (in Punjab) soon after Nawaz Sharif had made his (victory) speech late on Saturday. “The polling staff stopped counting ballots as soon as Nawaz Sharif started his speech and (then) our candidates started losing,” he contended.
Allegations from a visibly weak Imran Khan came in the wake of delayed results, especially in Lahore where the PTI was being billed as a threat to PML-N domination. Early trends showed PTI’s candidates leading in various constituencies, which was not out of sync with the size of the camps set up by the party outside the polling stations.
The build-up was promising and expectations were raised. Imran Khan’s supporters eagerly pointed out the ‘pro-PTI’ tone of the media houses. If they were talking about ‘tabdeeli’ (change), and if the senior EC officials concurred with them in supportive remarks that blatantly rejected the old incumbents, it could only mean that Mr Khan was on his way to mount a serious challenge to the incumbents, Punjab being crucial to his campaign for a change.
The PTI has emerged as the single largest party in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa both at the national and provincial levels, but trails far behind the PML-N in Punjab where it was expecting to do much better.
PTI supporters claimed that the solitary seat the party had won in Lahore was secured by Shafqat Mehmood only after he raised an alarm in the media.
In another constituency, which took awfully long to yield results and where some disturbances at polling stations had been reported on the polling day, PML-N’s Saad Rafiq was declared victorious. The tally showed the PML-N candidate beating Hamid Khan by about 40,000 votes even though the latter had a very respectable total of more than 80,000 votes.
This was the same area that had thrown up a ‘mysterious’ result in the 2002 elections. Then, early results favoured Akram Zaki of the PML-N in a close race with PPP’s Naveed Chaudhry and PML-Q’s Humayun Akhtar Khan. Later into the night, Humayun Akhtar was declared winner, to the chagrin of PML-N supporters who back then said that their protest had been subdued by the absence of the party leadership (the Sharifs) which was in exile at the time.
The PTI supporters held a demonstration in the constituency on Sunday, chanting the election had been stolen from them.
There were sporadic protests elsewhere, such as the one lodged by singer-politician Abrarul Haq, a PTI candidate who took on Ahsan Iqbal of the PML-N in Narowal. Mr Abrar said the poll in his area had been decided at gunpoint.
Imran Khan did question the credibility of the election, but he gave no hint if his party planned to launch street protests against vote-rigging as he had warned at a press conference last month.
Some PTI supporters Dawn talked to said the protest could have been much stronger if Mr Khan had been up and about. They said there were a few seats and a few issues that needed to be addressed urgently. Like the Lodhran seat the PTI stalwart Jahangir Tareen ‘was winning’ until he lost it to an invisible late-night scramble to an independent candidate.
Mr Tareen’s rival for the seat from the PPP, Mirza Nasir Beg, tells Dawn it was far from a transparent and fair election. Whereas he admits fighting on a PPP ticket in times such as these was tantamount to fighting a jihad, he is also frank in pointing out the large-scale rigging that was allowed in his constituency – NA-154.
“We were promised the army but we didn’t even get sufficient police protection,” Mr Beg said by telephone. “There were people stamping ballot papers at will.”
The losing PPP candidate says he has some papers signed by the returning officers at two polling stations to support his claim. He holds the same arm-twisting and cheating which took place in his area could well have been repeated elsewhere to deny the people a free vote and some candidates their due place in the assemblies.
In spite of his reservations on the fairness of polling results, Imran Khan termed the high voter turnout as a step forward for democracy in the country. He congratulated the people for taking part in the electoral process in such a big number.
“Even those who had never voted in their entire lives had come out to vote. Defeat and victory are part of the game but the passion of our youth has taken away the pain of my loss. I also thank women who came out in such a large number for the first time to participate in the democratic process to bring a change. We may have lost but we have laid foundation for the change and no one can reverse it,” Imran Khan said as he promised to make “Khyber Pakhtunkhawa an ideal Pakistan” if his party succeeded in forming its government in Peshawar.
MQM chief rejects allegations of rigging
By Our Staff Reporter
KARACHI, May 12: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain said on Sunday that his party was being pushed against the wall, warning that the establishment would be responsible for any unfortunate development in Karachi. .
In a telephonic address from London to MQM’s workers and supporters gathered at the party’s headquarters to celebrate victory of its candidates in Saturday’s elections, Mr Hussain said “the establishment is playing with fire”.
He rejected allegations that his party was involved in rigging of elections, saying that people of different ethnic backgrounds who believed in his philosophy could not be involved in criminal activities.
The MQM chief was unhappy over the media coverage being given to a protest sit-in at Teen Talwar in Clifton by workers and supporters of Imran Khan’s Tehreek-i-Insaf against alleged rigging in Saturday’s elections in Karachi.
He said some biased elements in television channels were trying to highlight what he called “a protest of a few people”. He accused the media of ignoring demonstrations organised by the MQM in Dolly Khata and other parts of Karachi which were attended by thousands of people.
Mr Hussain said PTI’s people were accusing the MQM of carrying out rigging in Karachi, but they were not telling what had happened with their party in Punjab. Instead of levelling allegations, the PTI should produce evidences if there was rigging, he added.
He urged the rulers and the establishment to cede Karachi from Pakistan if they did not like the city and the mandate of its people. He asked the people to get ready because the MQM leadership was going to give a call for a protest in a day or two.
No chance of change in results: ECP
By Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD, May 12: Rejecting the possibility that results of the elections could have been changed at any stage, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said on Sunday it would take the responsibility for each and every ballot paper. .
“There is no reason for any doubt or fear because of the delay in publication of official results because a foolproof procedure under the law is being followed,” ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan said at a press conference.
He said that under section 38 of the Representation of the People Act, 1976, a presiding officer was required to count votes immediately after the end of polling in the presence of candidates, election agents and polling agents and provide them information consistent with the orderly conduct of count and discharge of his responsibility in connection with the process.
Under the procedure, he said, valid ballot papers cast in favour of a candidate were put in separate packets and each packet was sealed with a certificate of count both in letters and figures, specifying the name and symbol of the candidates.
The ballot papers excluded from the count are put in separate packets which are kept in the main packet.
The presiding officer also prepares on the prescribed form a ballot paper account showing separately the number of ballot papers entrusted to him, the number of unused ballot papers, the number of ballot papers taken out of the ballot box or boxes and counted and the number of tendered, challenged and spoilt ballot papers.
The presiding officer is required to give a certified copy of the statement of count and ballot paper account to the candidates, their election agents or polling agents.
He seals in separate packets the un-issued, spoilt, tendered and challenged ballot papers, the marked copies of electoral rolls and counterfoils of used ballot papers.
The presiding officer obtains signatures of the candidates or their agents on each statement and packet prepared and records the fact if somebody refuses to sign it. A person required to sign a packet or a statement may, if he so desires, also affix his seal to it.
The presiding officer then sends the packets, statements of count and ballot paper count to the returning officer concerned who gives the candidates or their election agents a notice in writing of the day, time and place fixed for consolidation of the results and counts votes in their presence, including postal ballots.
After consolidation of the results, the returning officer provides a copy of the same to the candidates or their agents and reseals the packets and statements opened by him.
The returning officer then intimates the ECP the results of the count which is to be published in the commission’s official gazette.
Ishtiak Ahmed said the result of a winning candidate would not be published in the gazette if he failed to submit the return of election expenses within 10 days.
The ECP secretary said the election in NA-38 (Lower Dir) suspended because of law and order would be held within 10 days.
He said those elected as independents would have three days to join a political party after publication of the results in the official gazette. The candidates elected from more than one seat would have to retain one and by-elections on vacant seats would be held by the end of July, he added.
Mr Ishtiak said the quota of seats reserved for women and minorities would be worked out on the basis of numerical strength of political parties in the assemblies. He said that under the law, the National Assembly was to meet within 21 days after the elections.
Repolling for NA-250 seat in 10 days
By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD: ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad said a re-polling on 43 polling stations of NA-250 Karachi would be held in 10 days. .
He said the elections throughout the country were largely free and fair and held without any major incident, but Karachi was an exception where the commission was compelled to stop poling at various stations of NA-250.
He said presiding officers and other polling staff had faced threats and the election material was stolen by criminal elements. Their substitutes appointed by district returning officers were also threatened and they refused to perform the election duty.
The office of the chief election commissioner also came under fire, he said. “In these circumstances, the polling was substantially delayed in NA-250 constituency and could not be held in its 43 polling stations.”
Mr Ishtiak said the commission was carrying out investigations and would take action against those responsible. He said Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim had also travelled to Karachi to assess the situation. He said necessary measures would be taken to ensure that such unfortunate incidents did not take place during the re-polling.
BNP-M rejects results of various constituencies
By Our Staff Correspondent
QUETTA, May 12: The Balochistan National Party-Mengal has rejected the results of the May 11 elections in various constituencies and urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the chief election commissioner to take notice of what it called rigging in favour of some political parties. .
Addressing a press conference here on Sunday, BNP-M vice-president Sajid Tareen said the CEC should cancel the results and hold fresh polls in these constituencies, two of them in Quetta, because of ‘massive rigging’ in favour of two nationalist parties.
Accompanied by Akhtar Hussian Langov and Ahmed Nawaz Baloch, the BNP-M candidates for PB-4-Quetta and PB-5 Quetta, he said that despite its reservations and apprehensions, the party had decided to take part in the elections and enter into parliamentary politics instead of taking up arms for the rights of the Baloch people.
He said that although BNP-M leaders had expressed apprehensions about pre- and post-poll rigging at a meeting of its central committee, the party decided to contest the elections.
Mr Tareen said some elements had tried to harass leaders and workers of the party by hurling grenades and firing rockets at their homes, but the BNP-M refused to leave the field. “All these tactics were used to force the party out of the electoral process.” He alleged massive rigging in Khuzdar, Wadh, Gwadar, Turbat, Chagai, Noshki, Panjgur, Nasirabad, Jaffarabad and Quetta and said the results of BNP-M chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal and other candidates were being delayed without any reason.
He said that in the two Quetta constituencies, polling staff had allowed the supporters of candidates of BNP-M’s rival parties to cast their votes till late night despite the end of polling time. He claimed that the BNP-M candidates were leading in the two constituencies but the results were changed overnight.
Mr Tareen said his party had decided to move court against the rigging and appealed to Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and CEC Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim to take notice of the matter.
He said the BNP-M would not compromise on the rights of the Baloch people and continue its struggle.
Nawaz wants to end mistrust with India, boost ties with US
LAHORE, May 13: Nawaz Sharif, poised to become prime minister for a third time after a decisive victory in the elections, said on Monday that the mistrust which had long dogged relations with India needed to be addressed. .
He also pledged to strengthen relations with the United States, but called its drone campaign in Pakistan’s tribal region a challenge to national sovereignty.
Mr Sharif said he had a “long chat” with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday and both of them extended invitation to each other to visit, a diplomatic nicety in some parts of the world, but a heavily symbolic step for South Asia’s
Asked by an Indian journalist if he would invite Mr Singh for his swearing-in as prime minister, he said he would be very happy to extend that invitation.
“There are fears on your side; there are fears on our side. We have to seriously address this,” Mr Sharif said while speaking to the foreign media at his palatial estate outside Lahore.
A supporter of free market policy, he wants to see trade between the two countries unshackled, and he has a history of making conciliatory gestures towards New Delhi.
In 1999, when he was prime minister, Mr Sharif stood at the frontier post waiting to welcome his counterpart, Atal Behari Vajpayee, to arrive on the inaugural run of a bus service between New Delhi and Lahore.
It was a moment of high hope for two countries that had gone to war three times in the preceding decades.
But by May of that year, the two sides were sucked into a new conflict as then army chief Pervez Musharraf sent forces across the line dividing Kashmir. And by October, Mr Sharif had been ousted by Gen Musharraf in a bloodless coup.
Mr Sharif’s return to power 14 years later has raised concern that he will again cross swords with the military, which has long controlled the country’s foreign and security policies.
Mr Sharif sought to play down his perceived enmity towards the army, saying he only blamed Gen Musharraf for the coup, not the entire service. “I think the rest of the army resented Gen Musharraf’s decision,” he said.
“So I don’t hold the rest of the army responsible for that.”
He said that as prime minister he would ensure that the military and the civilian government work together on the myriad problems facing the country. In an ironic twist, Gen Musharraf is currently under house arrest after returning from self-imposed exile, and Mr Sharif will need to decide whether to press treason charges against him in the Supreme Court.
Open to like-minded allies: Mr Sharif said his PML-N won enough of the 272 National Assembly seats to rule on its own, but suggested he was open to allies joining his government.
“I am not against any coalition. But as far as Islamabad is concerned, we are ourselves in a position to form our own government,” he said. “All those who share our vision, we will be happy to work with them.”
Mr Sharif’s biggest challenges are likely to be closer to home — fixing the shattered economy, ending an appalling energy crisis, coping with poverty and tackling a Taliban insurgency.
Another bailout from the International Monetary Fund to avoid a new balance of payments crisis is seen as inevitable.
Mr Sharif suggested that he would be willing to implement politically sensitive reforms to secure an IMF lifeline.
He has picked Senator Ishaq Dar as his finance minister in the new cabinet, a party spokesman said on Monday. Mr Dar had “all the facts and figures at his fingertips” and would present in June the budget for the next financial year, Siddiqul Farooq said.
Mr Dar, who served as finance minister in a previous cabinet of Mr Sharif in the 1990s, has said he plans to push provincial governments to collect agricultural taxes, a policy that can set him on a collision course with some of the PML-N’s wealthy backers.
US war against terrorism, drone attacks: Mr Sharif said ahead of the election that Pakistan should reconsider its support for the US war against terrorism and suggested he was in favour of negotiations with the Taliban.
As prime minister-elect, Mr Sharif chose his words carefully on Monday, saying Islamabad and Washington have “good relations” and “need to listen to each other”.
Asked about US drone strikes against militants on Pakistani soil, which many see as a violation of sovereignty, he referred to it as a “challenge” to sovereignty.
“We will sit with our American friends and talk to them about this issue,” he said.
“Of course we have taken this matter up very seriously. I think this is a very serious issue, and our concern must be understood properly.”
The CIA’s drone campaign targeting Al Qaeda and other militants has been extremely controversial in Pakistan, where people say it frequently kills innocent civilians — something Washington denies — and that it violates Pakistan’s sovereignty.
Mr Sharif promised Pakistan’s “full support” as the United States withdraws combat troops from Afghanistan next year. “If there are concerns on either side I think we should address those concerns and strengthen this relationship.”
The US and Nato are due to withdraw most of their troops from war-torn Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and Pakistan will be a key transit point for shipping home equipment overland to the Karachi port.
“We will extend full support to them and we will see everything goes smoothly,” Mr Sharif said, hours after President Barack Obama said Washington was ready to work with Islamabad “as equal partners” and welcomed the transition.
Pakistan will likely play a strong role in any reconciliation deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Nawaz Sharif urged Imran Khan of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf to drop his claims of vote rigging, saying “I think we should all show sportsman’s spirit and accept the results of the elections.”—Agencies
PTI’s Pervez Khattak likely to lead KP govt
PESHAWAR, May 13: The Jamaat-i-Islami announced on Monday night that it was aligning with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in its efforts to from government in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa. .
JI’s provincial spokesperson Advocate Israrullah told Dawn that a meeting of the party’s executive had decided to support the PTI which had the mandate to serve the people of KP.
The meeting, presided over by Prof Ibrahim, was held soon after a PTI team led by its central Secretary General Pervez Khattak had met JI leader Sirajul Haq to convey his party’s desire to form the government in KP with their support.
The PTI has so far won 34 seats in the KP assembly of 99 members, while the JI has seven seats.
The PTI is hoping to rope in Aftab Sherpao’s Qaumi Watan Party which has bagged 10 seats.
The development took place amid a statement by PTI’s provincial secretary information and MPA-elect Shaukat Yousafzai that the party’s chairman, Imran Khan, has named Pervez Khattak as the party’s parliamentary leader and also his choice to become the next chief minister of KP.
This will help put to rest an internal power struggle between Mr Khattak and the party’s provincial president Asad Qaisar who also is aspiring for the top post.
Stocks hit all-time high
KARACHI: The Karachi stock market hit an all-time high on Monday following Nawaz Sharif’s strong victory in landmark elections, which revived hopes the steel tycoon’s pro-business agenda could spark an economic revival.
The benchmark index of top 100 shares rose by 1.65 per cent to 20,244 points, surpassing the 20,000 mark for the first time.
Investors are hopeful of an economic revival under Mr Sharif whose pro-business policies earned him a good reputation among traders and industrialists during his two previous tenures in the 1990s.
“He liberalised the economy by launching a privatisation programme and liberalised the financial sector allowing foreign investors to step into Pakistani capital markets,” said Mohammad Sohail, the chief of a leading brokerage house in Karachi.
PkMAP, PML-N and NP set to rule Balochistan
By Saleem Shahid
QUETTA, May 13: The Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and National Party (NP) — the three major parties in Balochistan which have won 26 of the 51 general seats of the provincial assembly — have begun contacting other groups for the formation of a coalition government. .
The PkMAP has emerged as the largest party in the assembly having clinched 10 seats. The PML-N has secured nine seats and the Baloch nationalist National Party seven.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam has got six seats, while the PML-Q, which was the largest party in the previous assembly with 19 seats, has won only four.
The Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) has won two seats and the Awami National Party (ANP), BNP-Awami (BNP-A), Majlis-i-Wahdatul Muslimeen and Jamote Qaumi Movement one each.
Seven independent candidates have succeeded and the results of some seats are yet to be announced.
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) could not win any national or provincial assembly seat in Balochistan. The PPP had won 15 seats of the provincial assembly and six of the NA in the 2008 elections.
The PkMAP, PML-N and National Party appear to be in a position to form the provincial government.
After the allotment of the reserved seats for women and religious minorities, the combined strength of the three parties will increase to 36 in the house of 65 and they will be able to comfortably form government.
The strength of the PML-N may further increase as some of the independent members are likely to join it.
According to sources, some independent members have already approached PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif. However, the sources said, Mr Sharif would form a committee for holding negotiations with independent members and leaders of other parties for forming the government in Balochistan.
The sources said the leaders of the PkMAP and the PML-N had been in contact with each other.
The PML-N had supported PkMAP chairman Mehmood Khan Achakzai in the National Assembly constituency NA 259, Quetta, and withdrawn its candidate in favour of Mr Achakzai.
The PkMAP also had an understanding with the National Party and the latter had withdrawn its candidate in favour of Mr Achakzai.
Four names are circulating in the provincial capital for the post of chief minister — former Senate deputy chairman Mir Jan Mohammad Khan Jamali, Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, Nawabzada Mir Jangez Khan Marri of the PML-N and Nawab Ayaz Khan Jogezai of the PkMAP.
Imran alleges rigging in 25 constituencies, seeks recount
By Mansoor Malik
LAHORE, May 13: As enthusiastic workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf held sits-in in several cities of the country on Monday in protest against alleged irregularities in elections, PTI chairman Imran Khan said the party had collected evidence of rigging in 25 constituencies of the National Assembly and asked the Election Commission of Pakistan to look into the complaints. .
Mr Khan, who is bed-ridden at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital since May 7 after falling off a fork-lift vehicle, called for re-counting in constituencies identified for rigging complaints.
The PTI chief said the party would soon issue a white-paper on election rigging complaints.
Meanwhile, the PTI Punjab chapter has called its parliamentary board meeting in Lahore to discuss the ‘massive rigging evidence’ the party has found.
The PTI’s MPAs-elect will attend the meeting. The PTI’s election complaint cell has already collected and forwarded some 8,000 complaints to the Election Commission.
On the other hand, the party’s supporters, comprising largely youth and women, have been continuously protesting in different parts of the province, including three areas in Lahore. A sit-in has been going on at Lalak Jan Chowk in Defence Housing Authority since Sunday afternoon.
The protesters have started calling the Lalak Jan Chowk as the “Insaf Square”.
“This Chowk will become the Tahrir Square of Pakistan,” said Imran Khan’s sister Aleema Khan, referring to the massive rallies held in the Egyptian capital two years ago which finally led to the fall of dictator Hosni Mubarak’s government.
Imran Khan, the PTI chief, has also tweeted on the internet that he was standing with the protesters.
Ms Aleema Khan said the results from all over Punjab and particularly in Lahore were highly unexpected.
“How come 62 per cent turnout and almost 90 per cent voters casting vote for the PTI but results declaring PML-N candidates winners,” she asked.
She said the demonstrations would continue till the ECP took action and let justice prevail. She also quoted Imran as saying: “Morally, I am standing with you. If physically fit, I would have myself been standing with the protesters”.
Speaking to journalists, PTI leaders Shafqat Mahmood, Hamid Khan, Ahsan Rasheed, Fauzia Kasuri and others said that the PTI would carry out sits-in across Punjab on Tuesday. They alleged that the PML-N had staged rigging with the cooperation of police and polling station staff.
Alleging worst-ever rigging, the PTI leaders called for re-election in NA-122 and NA-125 under the army’s supervision. The PTI lost to the PML-N in the two Lahore constituencies and among the losers was Imran Khan.
The PTI supporters have also been holding demonstrations in other areas such as Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital Chowk and Icchra in Lahore; at Shahrah-i-Faisal and Teen Talwar Chowk in Karachi; and D-Chowk in Islamabad.
Umer Zaheer Meer, the party’s complaint cell in-charge, told Dawn that he had collected some 8,000 election-related complaints from across the country and submitted them to the ECP.
Gilani accepts responsibility for PPP defeat
By Our Staff Correspondent
MULTAN, May 13: Accepting responsibility for PPP’s electoral defeat, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has quit the post of the party’s senior vice chairman. .
Addressing a press conference here on Monday, he said the PPP lost elections in southern Punjab because it had not met the demand of the people of this region for creation of a new province.
“As a former prime minister, I am taking responsibility for the party’s defeat. Bilawal (Bhutto Zardari) was not responsible for PPP’s performance in the elections because there is no connection between the party’s performance and government’s affairs,” Mr Gilani said.
He said President Asif Ali Zardari had not asked him to resign. “I have decided to resign keeping in view the election results.”
He said the criterion for success of a party was implementation of at least 40 per cent of its manifesto while the PPP government had implemented 80 per cent of its manifesto. “The history will decide about our government’s performance as we have done legislation, improved infrastructure and increased electricity generation capacity.” Mr Gilani said the power projects launched by the PPP government would complete in two to three years and on the basis of this our opponents are claiming to overcome the energy crisis.”
He said he had suggested to the PPP leadership that government’s tenure should be reduced from five to four years because people usually got fed up with the long government tenure of any party. He said there were equal opportunities for both the government and the opposition to serve the masses and the PPP would play an effective opposition role.
Mr Gilani said many facts would emerge about the election results after a few days, adding that his party was assessing constituency-wise results and would publish a ‘white paper’ in this regard.
The former premier said there was a need to reorganise the PPP at union council level to bring new leadership.
He said efforts were being made to marginalise the Muttahida Qaumi Movement although it had played a democratic role over the past five years. The MQM had an important role in maintaining law and order in Karachi, he said.
Mr Gilani extended ‘best wishes’ to Nawaz Sharif whose PML-N swept the elections.
Dar most likely to be finance minister
By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD, May 13: While Senator Ishaq Dar has emerged as consensus choice to lead the economic team, the PML-N’s core leadership appeared to be divided over who should head the ministries of water and power and petroleum and natural resources — the key ministries that will determine the performance of the new government..
A party leader who attended a meeting of the PML-N’s core committee in Lahore on Sunday told Dawn that Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Khawaja Mohammad Asif had desired to be appointed as ministers for petroleum and water and power, respectively.
Since there was little discussion on the petroleum ministry it was unclear if Chaudhry Nisar, a two-time petroleum minister, could ultimately be given the choice portfolio.
There was explicit opposition to Khwaja Asif’s nomination for the post of water and power minister.
A few voices pointed out that the selection of Khawaja Mohammad Naeem on the recommendations of Khawaja Asif (the two Khawajas are close relatives) as Punjab’s member of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority had not gone well because he had not been able to deliver.
There is a possibility that the two ministries are merged and given to one energetic and bold parliamentarian who is capable of steering the country out of the chronic power crisis because the PML-N’s top leadership believed the major reason behind PPP’s defeat in the May 11 elections was widespread loadshedding and its inability to provide relief to consumers.
Given this challenge, the party then considered Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Ahsan Iqbal.
Mr Abbasi, a businessman, former minister for commerce and chief executive of Airblue, is an electrical engineer, educated in the United States, and had given up his PhD in power distribution and transmission because of some problems in the family.
As head of a sub-committee of the special energy committee of the National Assembly, he had prepared a report on the power crisis and submitted recommendations to the PPP government for resolution of the issue.
Mr Iqbal has got his mechanical engineer’s degree from the Lahore University of Technology and done his master’s in business administration from the United States. A former deputy chairman of the planning commission and education minister, Mr Iqbal has headed a think tank of the Pakistan Engineering Council on power sector problems for quite some time.
“There is a tough competition between the two engineers for the challenging job of power minister and it would go to one who is considered by the party leadership as a bold and active administrator and a strong performance-oriented person,” said the PML-N leader.
Punjab governor resigns
By Our Staff Reporter
LAHORE, May 13: Punjab Governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood resigned from his office on Monday. .
“I am submitting my resignation to President Asif Ali Zardari. It is the prerogative of the new party to have its own governor. I have decided to do so as self-respect is very dear to me,” Mr Mahmood told a press conference at the Governor’s House.
Mr Mahmood had assumed the office over four months ago. He was then the president of PML-Functional Party in Punjab, but the party leadership removed him from the office after his decision to become the Punjab governor.
The PPP has won only one National Assembly seat from Punjab. Incidentally, the seat went to Makhdoom Mustafa, the son of Governor Mahmood, from Rahim Yar Khan.
The governor congratulated PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and PTI chief Imran Khan for winning elections and expressed the hope that they would both come up to expectations of the people.
In reply to a question about rigging, he said: “There may be a few cases of rigging but as a whole, elections were free and fair and I congratulate the Election Commission for this.” He said the parties which lost elections should accept the results with an open heart.
When asked why the people of south Punjab did not vote for the PPP despite it raising the issue of a new province, Mr Mahmood said the people (of south) still wanted the new province, but they were unhappy over massive loadshedding and an unprecedented inflation over the past five years. “If the new government fails to deliver it will face the same fate in next elections,” he said.
Mr Mahmood claimed that democracy was fragile when the PPP had come to power in 2008 and it focused only on saving democracy than governance. He gave credit to President Asif Ali Zardari for strengthening democracy. To a question about his political future, he said: “I will serve the PPP as an ordinary
Nowshera polling station recorded 271pc turnout
By Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD, May 13: In what may invite trouble for many presiding officers, over 100 per cent votes were polled in at least 49 polling stations across the country. .
But this could be just the tip of the iceberg as those detected were among the 8,119 out of a total of 70,000 polling stations monitored by observers belonging to over 40 NGOs working for improving electoral processes.
The list of polling stations with more than 100pc turnout was released by the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) on Monday. The polling stations where irregularity appears to have been committed in connivance with the polling staff were in the constituencies of some top political leaders, including Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, PPP Punjab president Manzoor Wattoo, former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Abdul Qadir Gilani.
The list includes six polling stations of five National Assembly constituencies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 32 polling stations of 26 constituencies in Punjab, eight polling stations of seven constituencies in Sindh and one polling station in Balochistan.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the polling stations were in NA-5, NA-6, NA-7, NA-13 and NA-24. Elections in three of the five constituencies have been won by the PTI and the rest by the JUI-F, including the one by Maulana Fazlur Rahman. An abnormal turnout of 271.16pc was reported from a poling station in Nowshera (NA-6). The PTI’s Siraj Khan was declared winner in the constituency.
In Punjab, the list includes NA-52 (Rawalpindi) where Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan beat Ajmal Sabir Raja of PTI with a clear margin. Over 170pc and 192pc turnouts were recorded in two polling stations of NA-122, where Sardar Ayaz Sadiq of the PML-N beat PTI chief Imran Khan. The list includes NA-71 (Mianwali), where PTI chief Imran Khan emerged victorious.
The other constituencies in Punjab with over 100pc turnout were Na-74 (Bhakkar), NA-94 (Toba Tek Singh), NA-98 and 101 (Gujranwala), NA-105 (Gujrat) where Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi defeated PPP’s Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, NA-115 (Narowal), NA-124 (Lahore), NA-126 (Lahore) where PTI leader Shafqat Mahmood won, NA-127, 128, 130 and 140 (Lahore), NA-142 (Kasur), NA-143, 144 and 147 (Okara), NA-148 and 151 (Multan), NA-168 (Vehari), NA-175 (Rajanpur), NA-193 and NA-195.
The polling stations in Sindh with over 100pc turnout are: NA-198 (Sukkur), NA-200 (Ghotki), NA-211, 217 and 218 (Matiari), the constituency of PPP leader Makdoom Amin Fahim, NA-226 (Mirpur Khas), NA-229 (Tharparkar) and NA-242, 256 and 257 (Karachi).
The only such polling station in Balochistan was NA-262 (Killa Abdullah), where PKMAP chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai won the election.
In its statement, Fafen called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to place statements of count of all polling stations on its website before certifying any final result of a constituency.
It suggested that the ECP should not include votes of the polling stations with over 100pc turnout in calculation of results and consider re-polling in these stations.
ECP MEETING: The ECP held a meeting in the federal capital on Monday to take up allegations of rigging in Karachi and decided to summon the election record of all constituencies of the city.
The meeting, presided over by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, was attended by all four members and senior officials of the commission. Briefing journalists, ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan said reports had been sought from district returning officers, returning officers, provincial election commission and the Sindh police chief.
He said the commission had kept intact the decision for re-polling in 43 polling stations of NA-250 (Karachi) and indicated that re-polling in other constituencies of the city and other areas was possible if concrete evidence of rigging was available. He said the ECP had the powers to order re-polling because of rigging. Mr Ishtiak was of the opinion that army troops should not be pulled out of Karachi and Hyderabad because re-polling was possible in some constituencies there.
Observers praise voters, parties
By Kalbe Ali
ISLAMABAD, May 13: The European Union’s Election Observation Mission has termed the May 11 elections ‘largely fair’ and praised the strong commitment demonstrated by the parties, candidates and voters to the democratic process despite high levels of militant attacks in some parts of the country..
The EU observers mostly rated the polling process as ‘satisfactory or good’ but they expressed concern over a lesser role of women in the election process and called for increasing their reserved seats in the assemblies.
Launching the mission’s preliminary statement here on Monday, its Chief Observer Michael Gahler said violence by non-state actors had unbalanced the playing field and considerably distorted the election process at some places.
According to the statement, there were 62 reported election related security incidents on the polling day, resulting in 64 deaths.
The voting process was rated as ‘poor or inadequate’ in nine per cent of the poling stations visited by the observers.
The mission said that the Election Commission’s late decision to extend the time for voting by an hour had caused confusion and it had not been officially announced on the ECP website.
It praised the Pakistani society for the success of the elections and said that while state authorities, political parties and the civil society had expressed strong commitment to the democratic process, militant groups had tried to sabotage it.
“The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant groups initially targeted certain political parties in three provinces in particular and then an increased
number of parties across the country.
‘‘This deliberate attempt to disrupt the democratic process as a whole affected parties and candidates, voters, the election administration, the media and civil society,” Mr Gahler said.
He said there had been calls which declared the democratic system “un-Islamic” and called upon voters and polling staff not to participate in the elections.
The banned TTP had threatened to attack the places where electoral activities were taking place, he said.
The people had demonstrated their commitment to democratic governance and overcoming militant violence on the election day, he said.
“We saw a competitive process with twice as many candidates as there were in 2008,” he added.
However, the mission noted several shortcomings in the process. The irregularities ranged from absence of ink to presence of police personnel inside polling booths, although there had not been any evidence that they had interfered in the voting.
The EU mission was joined by three members of the European Parliament, led by Richard Howitt, who acted as short-term observers.
Mr Howitt said the holding of satisfactory elections would help forward Pakistan’s case for duty free exports to the EU under the Generalised System of Preferences-Plus.
Corruption main cause of power sector mess, says minister
By Khaleeq Kiani
ISLAMABAD, May 13: Caretaker Water and Power Minister Dr Musaddik Malik said on Monday the country’s entire power sector had become a hub of corruption and cannot attract quality investors. .
Speaking at a reception here, the minister said the depth of corruption in the National Power Control Centre (NPCC) was beyond imagination, but nobody realised its ramifications. The government had procured two soft-wares in early 1990s for monitoring and transparent distribution of electricity, but they had still not been put to use.
He said during his recent visit to NPCC, the critical centre that controls the entire electricity system, including its generation, transmission and distribution network, was found to be a place like ‘fish market’ where the power system was managed on the basis of telephone calls. “Unless you get rid of corruption in the NPCC, the performance of power sector could not be improved,” the minister said.
“We have created a business model in the power sector that does not allow genuine investors to come forward and only dubious investors are making investments,” the minister regretted.
The minister said that huge payments were being made to private power producers in the name of capacity payments in a highly questionable manner which was full of corruption.
Giving an example, he said that the National Transmission and Dispatch Company usually contacted the power producers every day for booking of energy purchases from independent power producers on the basis of availability of power plant and fuel requirements. For example, a plant is booked for 1000MW of electricity but in reality the plant provided only 500MW because it did not have enough fuel or faced technical problems, but payment was made to the plant for the entire booking.
“This is misappropriation and corruption of the highest order,” the minister said, adding that payments to private producers were being made after payment of bribe to selected producers who even fail to supply electricity, but payments were being denied to those who provided full committed supplies of electricity.
Referring to fuel supply problems, the minister revealed that during transportation of furnace oil from port to power plant, huge pilferage and adulteration were made and public sector generation companies were involved in this business to the extent of 80 per cent.
“As a minister I wanted to take some critical and bold decisions to end the ongoing mess in the power sector which is also causing unprecedented load-shedding, but was forced to retreat because of severe hurdles created by an influential and powerful network within the power sector,” Dr Malik said.
He said the power regulator had allowed transmission losses of 2.5 per cent last year against the actual losses of about 2.9 per cent which had now increased to 3.6 per cent this year with same distribution and transmission system.
The minister expressed surprise that though there was massive theft in electricity supply, it has conveniently been described as an administrative loss and this was official!
He said that distribution companies in Punjab were comparatively efficient, but there was massive figure fudging among these companies as well, adding that he had ordered an audit of 22 ongoing power projects, most of them hydropower, and found that those scheduled to be completed in 2010 had still not achieved more than 60 per cent progress.
He also revealed that relevant agencies were reluctant to give details of cost overruns and losses to national economy owing to delayed completion of projects.
“They are not ready even to give details about those responsible for construction of these projects,” the minister said, adding that had these projects been completed in time, there would have been no load-shedding now.
In reply to a question, Mr Malik said the power sector had been designed on the business model of countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar who were oil producers. But this model was not sustainable for oil importing countries like Pakistan.
In the generation sector, the minister said that efficiency and heat rates – basic parameters of power generation throughout the world — were missing in Pakistan and it had resulted in huge build-up in power tariff which was ultimately paid by consumers or by the government.
“This is shameful,” the minister said, adding that heat rate test and efficiency parameter test were basic requirements which were done every year in the entire world, but it has not happened in Pakistan for years.
Altaf denies having threatened secession
By Our Staff Reporter
KARACHI, May 13: A day after he had asked the rulers and the establishment to separate Karachi from Pakistan if they did not like the mandate of the city, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain clarified on Monday that he did not make any such demand. .
According to an MQM press release, Mr Hussain denied in unequivocal terms what he called baseless allegations and said: “I request all those who are accusing me to obtain the CD of my address from Nine Zero and see my points in the light of the context in which I was speaking and then give their comments.”
He said those whose forefathers had sacrificed over two million lives for the creation of Pakistan could not even imagine going against the country.
He congratulated the nation on the holding of general elections and the continuation of the democratic process and expressed the hope that it would continue. He said the nation deserved praise for defying terrorism and coming out of homes on May 11.
Mr Hussain said people had reached polling stations on time, but had to wait for long in queues because of “mismanagement” of the Election Commission (ECP).
They waited patiently but did not get disappointed, he said, adding that the massive turnout indicated that there was an awakening among the people.
The Muttahida chief praised the army, Rangers, Frontier Constabulary and police for working tirelessly. He said the ECP and Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim had played an important role and worked day and night to ensure timely elections.
The MQM chief said the process of elections had ended and those who had any grievance should seek legal remedy instead of coming out on streets and creating difficulties for the country.
He urged all political and religious parties to accept each other’s mandate with open heart and suggested that power should be transferred to the majority party.
Amidst the euphoria, the dark underbelly
By Our Staff Reporter
KARACHI, May 13: A day after arriving in London via a Pakistan International Airlines flight from Lahore, Declan Walsh, the expelled New York Times’ Pakistan bureau chief, is reeling from the heavy-handed treatment he received during his final hours in the country and still unsure why he was asked to leave Pakistan..
In an interview with Dawn on Monday, Walsh said: “I wish I knew why I was told to leave Pakistan. ‘Undesirable activities’ is so broad as to be virtually meaningless.”
“We asked this question repeatedly at every level of the government: spokesmen, section heads, ambassadors, generals, ministers,” Walsh continued. “Some offered vague suggestions but nothing concrete, appearing as embarrassed and as bewildered as I was. Others were silent.”
The veteran correspondent’s ordeal began last Thursday, just hours before he was set to leave for Lahore to cover the weekend’s general election.
“The police came to my house (in Islamabad) after midnight with a plain-clothes officer who said he was with the Special Branch, bearing a letter from the Interior Ministry. I opened the letter in front of them. Then they asked me to sign a delivery receipt, we shook hands and off they went,” Walsh explained.
He continued, “Two days later, with the clock ticking on my 72-hour deadline, it became clear that the decision could not be reversed. I went to Lahore to cover the elections on my last day in Pakistan, where I was detained at a military checkpost and questioned extensively.”
After being questioned at the military checkpost, matters began to quickly deteriorate. “I was released and went to a friend’s house, where men identifying themselves as belonging to the ‘security services’ turned up and demanded I come with them to the airport — even though the 72-hours had not expired, and my flight was 11 hours away,” Walsh recounted.
After being told that as an “anti-state element” he could not stay in a Pakistani citizen’s home, Walsh negotiated with the officials who agreed to take him to the Avari Hotel, where he was kept under virtual room arrest until he left for the airport to catch the 6am PIA flight to London.
PPP to take along allies in Sindh: Bilawal
By Our Staff Reporter
KARACHI, May 14: Pakistan Peoples Party’s Patron-in-Chief, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, has stressed the need for continuation of the democratic process without any obstacle to transfer of power through the ballot..
Addressing through video link members-elect of the national and provincial assemblies from Sindh here on Tuesday night at the Bilawal House, he called for an investigation into rigging complaints and said the elections were stolen in the constituencies from where the PPP used to return victorious.
He said despite complaints the Election Commission did not take any notice. The PPP was defeated through rigging, but the party considered the elections important for the country, he added.
Mr Bhutto recalled that despite unfavourable circumstances and conspiracies to stop his party from participating in the elections, it demonstrated patience and restraint and the people of Sindh showed their love for Benazir Bhutto.
He said the PPP had accepted the nation’s mandate for the sake of continuity of the democratic process and would play the role of opposition in the National Assembly.
“My party honours the mandate of all political parties and expects respect for its mandate.”
The PPP chief said despite having a majority in the Sindh Assembly, his party would take along its allies.
“We do not believe in politics of confrontation and will continue the political journey in a democratic manner by pursuing the policy of reconciliation,” Mr Bhutto said.
He asked the legislators-elect to serve the people with their fresh mandate.
He said that those who criticised the PPP should realise that democracy was stabilised in the country because of the sacrifice of Benazir Bhutto. The democratic government was able to complete its five-year tenure because of far-sightedness of President Asif Ali Zardari, he said.
Mr Bhutto said the PPP restored the constitution in its original shape and made amendments in it for strengthening the democratic order.
Addressing members-elect of the Sindh Assembly, he said: “Your victory is the victory of the people and the PPP. It is also a victory of Shaheed Bhutto’s philosophy.”
Talking to newsmen outside the Bilawal House, Syed Khurshid Shah, a minister in the PPP-led government, asked the Election Commission to look into complaints of 200 per cent polling at certain places.
He said the party leadership would take a decision soon about the leader of the opposition.
Syed Qaim Ali Shah said the party high command would decide about the leader of the house in the Sindh Assembly.
Sherjeel Memon said the people had proved that Sindh was the PPP’s fortress.
PML-N chief visits hospital, Nawaz to Imran: let’s bury the hatchet
By Mansoor Malik
LAHORE, May 14: PML-N president Nawaz Sharif has said that he harbours no ill will against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan and hopes to have a good relationship with him. .
“We will have a good working relationship with Imran Khan and steer the country out of crisis,” Mr Sharif remarked while talking to newsmen after visiting the bed-ridden Khan at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital on Tuesday.
The two leaders had been trading venomous remarks throughout the election campaign and Mr Sharif had even lodged a complaint against Mr Khan with the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Mr Sharif said he had told Mr Khan that they should bury the hatchet and play a ‘friendly match’ as soon as the PTI chief recovered from his injuries.
“I offered friendly relations to Imran telling him that Muslims must not harbour anger against each other for more than three days,” he added.
Answering a question, Mr Sharif said: “Imran Khan congratulated me on PML-N’s victory in the elections and I felicitated him on PTI’s win in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”
“I value PTI’s mandate in KP and asked Imran to form his party’s government there. We must respect each other’s electoral mandate,” he added.
The PML-N chief said the country was in serious trouble and there was a dire need for all stakeholders to work together to take the country out of the crisis it was facing because Pakistanis wanted to live in a strong and prosperous country.
He said Mr Khan was receptive to his suggestions and he prayed that he would regain health and play an active role in national politics.
Mr Sharif said Imran Khan had been advised bed rest. He was making fast recovery.
Answering another question, the would-be prime minister said Pakistan would maintain good relations with the US and other countries and resolve issues through talks.
PML-N steps up bid to widen support base outside Punjab
By Amjad Mahmood
LAHORE, May 14: The PML-N has reached out to political players in Sindh and Balochistan in its efforts to widen its support base outside Punjab and explore the possibility of forming provincial governments or play the role of an effective opposition there. .
In Karachi, its team comprising former Sindh chief minister Liaquat Jatoi, Rana Mashhood and Senator Jafar Iqbal called on PML-F president Pir Pagara and invited him to join the PML-N-led federal government.
The PML-F accepted the offer to join the federal government and become part of the opposition in Sindh while the PML-N endorsed the latter’s call for a protest on Thursday against rigging in the province.
The meeting decided that PML-F leader Imtiaz Shaikh would meet Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday. It will be followed by another meeting between Pir Pagara and Nawaz Sharif in Lahore.
The leaders of the two parties expressed reservations over what they called large-scale rigging in the elections in Sindh in which the governor and the caretaker chief minister were also allegedly involved. They also criticised the speech of MQM chief Altaf Hussain.
The N-League has secured 123 seats to become the largest party in the National Assembly. Although seven independent MNAs, mostly from Punjab, have joined the PML-N raising its tally of seats to 131, it needs at least three more members to attain a simple majority to form its government.
The PML-F has secured four National Assembly seats.
Another team comprising MNAs-elect retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch and Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, who has defeated Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan in a Lahore constituency, is in Quetta for talks with nationalists, particularly Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai.
Mr Achakzai, who had sided with Nawaz Sharif in thwarting the former ruling party’s bid to postpone elections, is being offered a greater role in the National Assembly, though his party has won only two seats in the lower house of parliament.
According to a PML-N official, the nationalist leader may replace Dr Fehmida Mirza as National Assembly speaker if their talks on formation of the federal and Balochistan governments end positively.
Talks are also under way to take the Jamaat-i-Islami along. The JI has secured three berths in the National Assembly and shown its inclination towards the PTI for forming a coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In Balochistan, the PML-N with a tally of nine seats is seeking to form a coalition government with the PkMAP (10), JUI-F (6) and National Party (6). Eight independents are also being approached, Ayaz Sadiq says.
Since the N-League and its alliance partners in Sindh, nationalists and the PML-F, have failed to secure any significant strength, it has decided to sit in the opposition, instead of joining the PPP-led government.
Habib Khan Ghori also contributed to this report.
‘Adiyala prisoners’ unaware of trial
By Nasir Iqbal
ISLAMABAD, May 14: The seven surviving Adiyala prisoners who were produced before the Supreme Court for the second time on Tuesday expressed complete ignorance about the trial in which they had been convicted of terrorism and sentenced to different jail terms..
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had taken up a miscellaneous application moved by Advocate Tariq Asad, who is representing the prisoners.
An assistant political agent (APA) of lower Orakzai Agency, Mawaz Khan, had on May 2 sentenced two brothers — Syed Abdul Basit and Syed Abdul Majid — to five years imprisonment and Dr Niaz Ahmed, Mohammad Mazharul Haq, Mohammad Shafeeq, Shafeequr Rehman and Gulroze to 14 years on charges of carrying illegal arms and aiding attacks on convoys of the army.
Naveed Akhtar, additional advocate general of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, informed the bench that five of the prisoners were being kept in Peshawar’s Central Jail and the rest in District Jail Haripur.
When they were produced before the court on Feb 13, they were visibly frail, with Abdul Majid carrying a urine bag. And almost all of them were suffering from a skin ailment, with their entire body covered with small blisters.
But on Tuesday they looked in a relatively better shape.
“We have been treated differently and very harshly compared to other inmates,” complained Dr Niaz Ahmed while talking to reporters on Tuesday. He said they were never produced before any court of law except the Supreme Court after they had been picked from Rawalpindi’s Adiyala jail.
Dr Niaz informed the court that they had been shifted from an internment centre in Parachinar to Kohat jail and then to Bannu and Peshawar jails.
The sever prisoners were among the 11 who had mysteriously gone missing from outside Adiyala jail on May 29, 2010 — the day they were acquitted of terrorism charges for their alleged involvement in the audacious Oct 2009 attacks on the GHQ and the ISI’s Hamza Camp in Rawalpindi.
Four of them later died under unexplained circumstances.
They were first sent to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar for treatment on the court’s orders and after five of them recovered they were shifted to the internment centre set up under the Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulations 2011, promulgated by President Asif Ali Zardari in exercise of his powers under article 247 of the constitution. They were later handed over to the political administration in Fata for trial under the Frontier Crime Regulation 1901.
On Tuesday, the court took exception to the process under which the prisoners had been sentenced by the political agent of Orakzai Agency and that a tehsildar informed them in Kohat jail that they had been convicted and sentenced.
“Record shows that these men were convicted by the APA on May 2 — the same day when the prisoners were produced before it after the authorities concerned were ordered for their production,” observed Justice Ijaz Chaudhry, a member of the bench, when the APA presented the record of the court proceedings.
The record suggested that the court of the APA had set May 17 as the next date of hearing, but announced the verdict on May 2.
“March 22, 2013, is mentioned as date of arrest of these seven men in your record, but these men had been detained since long,” Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja said.
The court asked Attorney General Irfan Qadir to assist it in determining whether the convicts were dealt with in accordance with article 10-A of the constitution which ensured a fair trial. It ordered APA Mawaz Khan and the additional law secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Shan Zeb, to submit complete record of the trial.
The Peshawar jail authorities have been asked to arrange a meeting between the prisoners and their family members in accordance with jail manual.
The hearing was adjourned to May 22.
Fazl rejects PTI mandate in KP
PESHAWAR, May 14: The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) has accused Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf of poll rigging in Mardan, Kohat, Peshawar and Fata and demanded re-election in the areas. .
Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman warned of protests across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa if his demand was not accepted.
He said his party did not accept the PTI’s victory in Mardan, Kohat, Peshawar and Fata obtained through massive rigging.
He alleged that results had been changed in the areas and asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take notice of irregularities and order re-election.
Raising doubts over the credibility of elections held across the country, he said the ECP’s failure to stop rigging had made the entire exercise controversial.
People, he said, had expected that the commission would conduct free, fair and impartial polls but they were disappointed.
Replying to a question, he said the JUI-F was in touch with the PML-N, Qaumi Watan Party, Jamaat-i-Islami and independents to explore the possibility of forming a coalition government in KP.
PTI’s response: Responding to the allegations, Asad Qaisar, president of the provincial chapter of PTI, has urged the JUI-F to respect the people’s mandate and sit in the opposition, instead of raising a hue and cry.
He said in a statement that Maulana Fazl had used the name of Islam only to grab power but he was rejected by the people who were aware of his motive.
He said the PTI had emerged as the party of the people under the dynamic leadership of Imran Khan.
He accused Maulana Fazl of accumulating wealth “in the name of Islam”, but the days of corrupt politicians were numbered. “Now people’s true representatives will rule the province.”
The Maulana, he said, cried foul whenever his party was rejected by people in an election.
18th amendment limits cabinet size
By Amir Wasim
ISLAMABAD, May 14: The days of forming large cabinets at centre and in provinces to keep everybody happy are over because of restrictions imposed by two articles inserted into the constitution by the 18th amendment, which have become effective for the first time after the May 11 elections..
The constraint will test accommodating skills of political parties which are in a position to form governments, particularly in the three smaller provinces, because they will have very little to offer to their coalition partners or will have to sacrifice key ministries to make alliances.Article 92 of the constitution says about federal cabinet: “… the total strength of the Cabinet, including Ministers of State, shall not exceed eleven per cent of the total membership of Majlis-i-Shoora (Parliament).”
After the enforcement of the article, the strength of federal cabinet cannot exceed 49 members because the total membership of parliament comes to 446 (342 MNAs and 104 senators). Since the PML-N has acquired sufficient strength to form government on its own at the centre and in Punjab, it will face no problem in forming cabinets there.
But the amendments may make the process of government formation difficult in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, according to political observers.
Article 130(6) of the constitution, which deals with the strength of provincial cabinets, says: “… the total strength of the Cabinet shall not exceed 15 members, or eleven per cent of the total membership of a provincial assembly, whichever is higher.”
According to this formula, chief ministers of Balochistan and KP can have a cabinet of 15 members at most while the size of the Sindh cabinet cannot exceed 19 members.
If the 11 per cent formula is applied, a 41-member cabinet can be formed in Punjab because its assembly has 371 members.
Political observers believe that the process of government formation in the three smaller provinces, particularly in Balochistan which always has a coalition government, has now become difficult.
Despite having the smallest assembly in terms of its strength, Balochistan has always had a large cabinet as compared to other provinces. There were more than 50 members, out of a total of 65 MPAs, in the previous cabinet, headed by Nawab Aslam Raisani.
Sindh and KP also had large cabinets because their ruling parties had to give a major share in the ministries to their coalition partners.
Chiefs of 3 public sector organisations removed
By Khaleeq Kiani
ISLAMABAD, May 14: Just a few weeks before handing over power to an elected government, the caretakers removed on Tuesday managing directors of three petroleum and natural resources companies..
An official notification issued with the approval of the prime minister’s secretariat said that Arif Hameed, the managing director of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), and Zuhair Siddiqui of Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) had been removed and asked to report to the ministry of petroleum and natural resources.
The government promoted Amir Tufail, deputy managing director of the SNGPL, and Rahat Kamal Siddiqui, deputy managing director operations of the SSGCL, to the post of managing director.
A petroleum ministry official said the removal of the two senior officials had been ordered by the prime minister’s secretariat without seeking the ministry’s opinion.
He claimed that a group of senior officials in the prime minister’s secretariat including principal secretary and head of PM’s Complaint Cell was responsible for removing the chief executives appointed by the PPP government.
But another official said the two had been removed because of their poor performance and gradual increase in the unaccounted for gas to an extent that the two companies were finding it difficult to meet their development and financial obligations.
He, however, agreed that it was inappropriate for a caretaker government to remove the senior executives soon after the elections and said the decision should have been left to the elected government.
He said the head of one of the gas companies had started consulting lawyers to challenge his ‘unceremonious’ removal.
The two officials are regular employees of the gas companies and had a couple of years to reach the age of retirement.
The government also removed the managing director of the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC) retired Brigadier Khalid Khokhar and appointed General Manager Saifullah Khan as the chief executive officer.
The PMDC looks after the mineral resources sector like salt and coal and precious metals.
Mr Saifullah was appointed as managing director of the PMDC a couple of years ago, but he was removed after intervention of the National Accountability Bureau.
The caretaker government had earlier removed Masood Siddiqui, managing director of the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited.
Ambassador Sherry Rehman resigns
By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD, May 14: Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Sherry Rehman, has resigned following PPP’s defeat in general elections. .
Ms Rehman who played a crucial role in normalising relations with the US after tense events of 2011-12 tendered her resignation on Tuesday to caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso.
According to a message posted on Pakistan embassy’s official Twitter account, Ms Sherry congratulated the winner.
She is quoted as having said: “It is time a new envoy comes in as quickly as possible so that there is no gap in the relationship.”
Though as tradition all political ambassadors stand retired with the change in government, Ms Rehman is so far the only one to have formally resigned.
During its tenure the PPP appointed about 17 non-career ambassadors, many of whom may be replaced. The only ones likely to be retained are retired generals and those who were serving after retirement from Foreign Service.
Besides Washington, some of the important capitals where political ambassadors are currently serving include London, Delhi, Abu Dhabi, Moscow, Muscat, Kiev and Mexico City.
Ms Rehman had earlier offered to resign when the tenure of the PPP government had ended in March, but she was asked by President Zardari to continue till the formation of the new government.
Ms Rehman replaced Hussain Haqqani in Washington last year following the Memogate issue, which had led to a row between the military establishment and the then PPP government.
Mr Haqqani was forced to resign because of allegations of his involvement with the memo allegedly seeking US help for preventing a military takeover.
Ms Rehman took over the assignment at one of the most difficult times in Pak-US relations. Pakistan was on that occasion re-defining its relations with the US because of the Salala border post attack.
The outgoing ambassador worked closely with Capital Hill and bureaucracy in Washington to advocate the Pakistan’s cause and was successful in putting the rocky bilateral relationship on an even keel.
‘Presiding officers accountable for every ballot paper’: Re-polling on 19th in Karachi’s 43 stations
By Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD, May 14: Re-polling will be held on May 19 (Sunday) in 43 polling stations of the National Assembly constituency NA 250 in Karachi, where the process was suspended on Saturday after the Election Commission received complaints of irregularities..
According to an official, the ECP had summoned reports from the returning officers and other officials concerned on allegations of irregularities and re-polling in other constituencies could not be ruled out if substantial evidence was provided.
About reports of over 100 per cent turnout at some polling stations across the country, the official said the presiding officers were bound under the law to provide a certified copy of the vote count to the polling agents. “The presiding officers concerned will have to face action if they are found involved in any illegal practice.”
He said the presiding officers would be accountable for every ballot paper.
“If they had issued ballot papers to people other than the genuine voters, the impersonators will be traced and punished.”
The official said the parties, candidates and polling agents having proof of rigging should come forward. Five election tribunals had been set up in Punjab and three each in other provinces.
He said the ECP also had the power to order re-polling if undeniable evidence of rigging was provided to it.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) urged the ECP to immediately hold an inquiry under the Representation of the People Act, 1976, into what it termed gross rigging allegedly committed by its opponents in the general elections. The party’s additional secretary general, Saifullah Khan Niazi, claimed that the party had managed to collect undeniable evidence to prove that gross irregularities had been committed by its opponents across the country.
He said that besides recounting, the ECP should also match the thumb impressions on the counterfoils of ballot papers with the National database and Registration Authority (Nadra) record.
He said the commission must take stern action against those government officials who had failed to perform their duties in accordance with the laws and election rules.
Salim Saifullah Khan, a Pakistan Muslim League leader and former federal minister, alleged that Jamiat Ualemi-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and his supporters had openly used loudspeakers and mosques for election campaign in violation of the ECP rules in NA 27, Lakki Marwat. He said that despite ECP’s warning against seeking votes in the name of religion, the JUI-F chief had said on record that those who did not vote for his party would be infidels. He called for an inquiry and re-polling in the constituency.
The Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat) also urged the ECP and Nadra to immediately carry out an audit of thumb impressions in the constituencies where complaints of rigging had been made, especially in Karachi and Lahore.
It said the audit could be undertaken without much difficulty in a short time and it had become necessary in view of the complaints made by several parties and voters. “This exercise is essential to pinpoint the specific areas where irregularities may have been committed so that the general credibility of the overall elections should be safeguarded.
“Since Nadra has authenticated thumb impressions of voters in its database, these should be compared with the thumb impressions affixed on the picture electoral rolls and the counterfoils of the ballot papers on the day of the election and any discrepancy should be brought to the notice of the ECP.”
It said that in case of mismatch of thumb impressions, the results of that polling station should be declared void.
Pildat noted with concern that polling staff, especially women, had been handed over election material without any transportation or security arrangements. “Vulnerability of the staff and the influence of local powerful elements on them proved to be one of the weakest links in the chain of election arrangements made by the ECP.”
Our Staff Reporter in Karachi adds: In the polling stations in Karachi South’s NA 250 constituency where re-polling will be held, 86,316 people are eligible to cast their votes — 48,442 men and 37,874 women.
Voting for Sindh Assembly’s constituencies 112 and 113 will also be held in the 43 polling stations.
The re-polling has been announced for the stations where polling could not be held on the election day because of an inordinate delay or absence of presiding officers and other staff or the process became controversial because of mismanagement to the extent that almost all parties having candidates in the constituencies demanded re-election under the army’s supervision.
In the light of complaints, the ECP had conceded on Saturday its failure to hold free, fair and transparent elections in Karachi and decided to conduct re-polling in the stations where glaring irregularities were found.
The date for the re-polling was decided at an ECP meeting on Tuesday.
According to a notification, the names of the polling stations with their old numbers are: PS-4 Safiya Sec Boys (Private) School, Pak Chowk; PS-7 GBSS, Railway Colony; PS-11 GBBS MUM School, Gari Khata; PS-48 GGSS, P&T Colony; PS-52 Islamia Collegiate Public Sec School, Hijrat Colony; PS-56 Jamshed Ahmad Khan Lower Sec School; PS-57 Bismillah Hijrat Colony GBPS; PS-58 CDGK Primary School No54-55 MK Junejo Road; PS-60 CDGK School 56, Tekri Colony, Bath Island; PS-62 College of Accounting Management Science, Allama Shibli Nomani Road; PS-78 Pak Turkish Institute, Shireen Jinnah Colony; PS-97&98 Aaisha Bawani Secondary School; PS-100&101 Aaisha Bawani Govt College; PS-104 KMC Primary School No62-63, Hazara Colony Cantt; PS-109&110 GBSS Qamarul Islam, Punjab Colony; PS-113&114 Ismail Allahwala Sec School, Delhi Colony; PS-115 DHA Tooba High School, Phase-I; PS-117 Aminia Girls Sec School, Delhi Colony Street-7; PS-121 Zaheen Academy, Block-9, Kehkashan Clifton; PS-122 Bay View Junior School, Block 9, near International Islamic Chamber; PS-131 Absa School of Deaf & Dumb Children, Phase-II Ext, Main Korangi Road; PS-135, 136, 137 and 139 Defence Model School, Phase IV; PS-140, 141, 142, 143 and 144 DHA Boys College, Phase VII; PS-148 DHA Model High School, Phase-VII, Khayaban-i-Hilal; PS-157 DA Model School O & A Level, Khayaban-i-Mujahid; PS-165 DA Middle School, Phase-VIII, Khayaban-i-Shujaat; PS-168 DHA Girls College, Phase-VIII; PS-175 Govt Rizwan Pry School, B-Area, Qayyumabad and PS-177, 179 and 180 Baldia Primary Lower Sec School, A-Area, Qayyumabad.
‘Taliban more afraid of books than bombs’
OKLAHOMA CITY, May 14: A human rights activist who founded an all-girls school said the Pakistani Taliban were “more afraid of books than bombs” as he and his 15-year-old daughter, Malala Yousufzai, were honoured on Monday at the memorial for Oklahoma City bombing victims. .
Ziauddin Yousufzai decried political violence during a ceremony held to honour him and his daughter, who has been recovering in Great Britain since the shooting that garnered international attention.
The annual Reflections of Hope Award is given out by the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museums in honour of the 168 people who died in the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.
Mr Yousufzai said Pakistanis were all too familiar with the kind of extremism that led to the Oklahoma attack, as well as the Sept 11 terrorist attacks and the Boston Marathon bombings last month.
“We share the pain. We share the suffering,” he said. “We have tragedies like Boston every day.”
He denounced the violence inflicted by Taliban militants who have taken the lives of tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers over the past 30 years. He said the militants advocated an “ideology of darkness” where truth was
stifled and education discouraged.
“My part of the world is bleeding. I’m here to bring my people out of terrorism,” he said.
Mr Yousufzai accepted the award on his daughter’s behalf during his first trip to the United States since the Taliban’s assassination attempt on Malala.
In a recorded acceptance speech, she said the Oklahoma memorial’s recognition served as encouragement to continue being an advocate for the right of girls worldwide to receive an education.
“It’s more courage. It’s more strength,” said Malala, who returned to school in England in March.
Mr Yousufzai founded the Khushal Public School 17 years ago to foster female leadership in an area where the Taliban had banned girls from attending school. His daughter also was an activist who attended the school until Oct 9, when the Taliban shot her in the head and neck while she was riding the school bus home.
Mr Yousufzai said he was honoured to be known largely as Malala’s father in Pakistan’s male-oriented society and dedicated the award to fathers, brothers, sons and husbands “who believe and who accept and who respect their daughters, their sisters, their mothers and their wives”. “They are individuals and they are equal to them,” he said.
As he concluded, dozens of teenage girls from Oklahoma communities entered the stage behind him holding signs that read: “I am Malala.” He encouraged them: “We should defeat bad ideas with good ideas.”—AP
Obama wants to strengthen ties
By Our Staff Reporter
LAHORE, May 14: US President Barack Obama called PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday and congratulated him on the success of his party in the May 11 elections. .
“Washington respects your mandate and appreciates the valour you showed in running the election campaign (in the face of security threats),” a press release quoted Mr Obama as having told Mr Sharif.
A number of other international leaders have also greeted the PML-N chief on his party’s victory in the landmark polls, although such greetings are usually extended after the swearing-in of a newly elected president or prime minister.
The US president was quoted as saying that he had learnt about some good traits of the Pakistani leader and he wished to meet Mr Sharif at the earliest.
He assured the PML-N chief that the United States was looking towards stronger and friendlier relations and trade ties with Pakistan.
Rahul Gandhi, vice-president of the Indian Congress party, also called Mr Sharif and conveyed his greetings.
Earlier, US Ambassador Richards Olson and Saudi envoy Ibrahim Al Ghadir called on the PML-N chief.
Meanwhile, the PML-N denied reports that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had been invited to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Mr Sharif.
A party spokesperson said in a statement that the reports were based on misunderstanding and there was no precedent of inviting foreign celebrities to such ceremonies.
Foreign media had quoted Mr Sharif as having extended the invitation on Monday.
The spokesperson also denied that President Asif Zardari had phoned Mr Sharif and congratulated him on his party’s victory in the polls.
Kerry to visit Pakistan soon
WASHINGTON, May 14: US Secretary of State John Kerry is hoping to visit Pakistan soon, once the new government of incoming prime minister Nawaz Sharif is in place, a US official said on Monday..
The two men already spoke on the phone on Sunday, when the top US diplomat called Mr Sharif “to congratulate him on his strong showing in Saturday’s elections,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.—AFP
MQM ends sit-in after Altaf’s appeal
By Our Staff Reporter
KARACHI, May 15: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement ended on late Wednesday night a sit-in it had been holding outside the office of the provincial Election Commission in protest against ECP’s decision to hold re-polling in 43 polling stations of the NA-250 constituency. .
The decision was announced by MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar while addressing the participants of the sit-in.
Earlier, MQM chief Altaf Hussain had appealed to the coordination committee to call off the sit-in by leaders and workers of the party. He said the protest should be postponed till the decision of the ECP on an MQM application seeking re-election in the entire NA-250 constituency.
Dr Sattar read out the message of Mr Hussain in which he had asked the owners of television channels and anchors to forgive him if he had hurt their sentiments.
He said Mr Hussain had congratulated PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif on winning the elections and said the MQM had accepted wholeheartedly the victory of his party. He urged Mr Sharif to also accept the mandate given by the people to the MQM.
Mr Hussain also congratulated Imran Khan and other leaders on their parties’ electoral success.
Meanwhile, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan called PML-N leader Shahbaz Sharif and congratulated him on the success of his party in the elections and asked him to convey his greetings also to Nawaz Sharif.
The governor and Mr Shahbaz also discussed the political situation in the country.
Earlier, the Sindh government advised the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) not to hold repoll in 43 polling stations of NA-250 for security reasons.
“We have just given a proposal to the ECP,” Sindh Information Minister Noor-ul-Huda Shah told Dawn here on Wednesday. The minister said: “Obviously, a decision will be taken by the ECP but the provincial government had just expressed its inability to hold the polls.”
She said the government had also told the ECP that if the contesting parties agreed, the repolling should not be held.
Ms Shah said in view of happenings of the past few days there were apprehensions that the law and order situation could deteriorate.
The minister said emotions of MQM and PTI activists, who had been holding rallies and sits-in almost daily, were running high. Section 144 had been imposed and political rallies had been banned, but if the polling were held crowds would gather again, she added.
Meanwhile, Clifton police arrested seven suspects allegedly involved in rigging at two polling stations of NA-250.
Imran wants vote recount in four NA constituencies
By Mansoor Malik
LAHORE, May 15: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan asked the Election Commission (ECP) on Wednesday to order recounting of votes, with forensic examination of voters’ thumb impressions, in four constituencies of the National Assembly “to regain public confidence in the elections”..
In a video message from his hospital bed played at a press conference here on Wednesday, he said rigging might have taken place in 25 constituencies of the National Assembly and urged the ECP to address his party’s concerns before announcing results.
About the post-poll scenario, he said his party would form government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and play the role of opposition at the centre.
The verification of voters’ thumb impressions would help identify rigging, satisfy those protesting against it and discourage such practices in future, he added.
On the basis of research, he said, the PTI believed the recounting with verification of thumb impressions would take only two days.
The PTI chief said the whole exercise of using computerised national identity cards, photographs and thumb impressions of voters would become futile if not used to verify results
Mr Khan said it was the first time that people had come out in such a large number to cast votes after standing in queues for hours.
The confidence of new voters would be shaken if the ECP refused to allay their concerns, he said, and added that the verification of results would strengthen democracy.
Although the PTI chief called for recounting in four NA constituencies, Ejaz Chaudhry, president of the Punjab chapter of the party, called for recounting in six constituencies — NA57 (Attock), 110 (Sialkot), 122 and 125 (Lahore), 154 (Lodhran) and 239 (Karachi).
The party’s General Secretary, Dr Yasmin Rashid, gave a three-day deadline to the ECP to accept the request for recounting. Otherwise a party meeting would be convened to work out a protest plan.
Dr Yasmin dismissed PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif’s request to Mr Khan to bury the hatchet and said the differences between the two leaders were of a political nature, and not personal. “There will be no friendly match. The PTI will continue its political struggle.”
However, Imran Khan said they had severe differences with the PML-N but the elections were over and now every stakeholder, including the PTI, wanted to move ahead.
He said people wanted all stakeholders to sit together and steer the country out of crisis.
He described terrorism as the main problem facing the country and said without eradicating the menace, prosperity could not even be dreamt of.
Mr Khan said the PTI would work with the federal government and army to resolve the issue of terrorism in KP. “I have talked to Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani about the issue of terrorism,” he added.
“My party will translate its vision of “New Pakistan” in KP by transforming it into a model province, revamping its public institutions and police system and reviving local bodies’ system,” Imran Khan said.
AFP adds: Mr Khan vowed to cooperate with incoming prime minister Nawaz Sharif on terrorism and other major challenges. “We have decided that despite severe differences that we have, we will work together to resolve major national problems, including terrorism.”
He said he wanted all politicians and the military to sit down together and find a solution to terrorism.
PML-N’s top guns jostle for key positions
By Amir Wasim
ISLAMABAD, May 15: As the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is set to form its governments at the centre and in Punjab in a couple of weeks, a number of its legislators have started lobbying to get coveted offices in the cabinet..
Sources in the party told Dawn that Nawaz Sharif had so far not held consultations on the formation of his cabinet and was expected to do this after his visit to Saudi Arabia soon.
The sources said Mr Sharif had not even decided whether Shahbaz Sharif would retain his provincial assembly seat or that in the National Assembly. The younger Sharif has already expressed a desire to become the Punjab chief minister for another term.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan is also said to be in the run for the office of the Punjab chief minister, but his chances are slim because a strong group within the party has opposed him.
Ishaq Dar and Ahsan Iqbal are considered to be strong contenders for the foreign minister’s portfolio.
A source in the party said if Mr Dar was appointed as foreign minister, Sartaj Aziz could be made adviser to the prime minister on finance and Mr Iqbal could be given the water and power portfolio.
Senator Pervez Rashid is being tipped for the post of federal information minister.
Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, an MNA-elect from Islamabad, was being considered for the post of deputy speaker of the National Assembly. The PML-N leadership was also said to be discussing the names of Sumaira Malik and Saira Afzal Tarar for the same post.
The sources said the party leadership wanted to nominate someone from Balochistan or Khyber Pakhtunkhawa as speaker of the National Assembly.
Mr Sharif, they said, wanted Pakhtunkhawa Milli Awami Party chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai to become the speaker and had constituted a team under MNA-elect Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to contact Mr Achakzai for his consent.
Senator Pervez Rashid termed all reports about cabinet formation speculative and said no decision had been made so far.
He said since the prime minister belonged to Punjab, it was unlikely that all key ministries would be given to people from the same province because this would send a bad message to other provinces.
‘N’ names Zehri for Balochistan CM post
By Saleem Shahid
QUETTA: The PML-N has nominated Sardar Sanaullah Zehri for the chief ministership of Balochistan after it became the largest party in the provincial assembly with the joining of two MPAs-elect..
Mir Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti, an independent candidate elected from Dera Bugti, announced his decision to join the PML-N and MPA-elect Syed Mohammad Raza of the Majlis-i-Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen announced his party’s support for the N-League at separate press conferences here on Wednesday evening. They were accompanied by Sanaullah Zehri, provincial president of the PML-N, and senior leader retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch.
Sardar Zehri said the party had nominated him for the chief ministership and set up a five-member committee, comprising Gen Qadir Baloch, Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasar, Nawabzada Lashkari Raisani, Jamal Shah and Nasibullah Bazai, to hold talks with other parties on the formation of a coalition government in Balochistan.
After the joining of Mir Sarfaraz Bugti, the PML-N has become the largest party with 10 seats in the 65-member Balochistan Assembly, followed by Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party with nine, National Party (seven), JUI-F (six), PML-Q (four), Balochistan National Party-Mengal (two) and BNP-Awami, Awami National Party, Jamoot Qaumi Movement and Majlis-i-Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen one each. There are eight independent members.
Sardar Zehri said he would try to form a stable government which could resolve the problems being faced by the people of this backward province. He said he believed in a strong opposition so that it could point out mistakes of the government and suggest measures for good governance.
The province had badly suffered in the absence of an opposition in the previous assembly. All members of different parties were in the government and they supported its every move whether wrong or right, leading to bad governance.
No one even asked the then chief minister about his absence from the province, said Sardar Zehri, who was minister for services and general administration in the cabinet of Nawab Aslam Raisani.
He said the top priority of the PML-N government would be to restore peace and order in Balochistan. “There was no writ of the pervious government which was responsible for the deteriorating law and order in the province,” he said, adding that without restoring peace no development work could be launched in the province.
He said Punjab was ahead of Balochistan in development because of better law and order. “People from all over the country and even many Baloch families have shifted to Punjab because of peace and order there.”
Sardar Zehri said his government would launch development projects and people would be provided basic facilities like heath, education and drinking water.
In reply to a question, he said he would make all efforts to persuade “angry Baloch brothers” to join the mainstream for resolution of all issues being faced by Balochistan. All stakeholders would be taken on board to resolve the issue of displaced people of Dera Bugti.
Gen Qadir Baloch said a number of independent MPAs had contacted the PML-N leadership for joining the party. He said the PML-N had nominated Sardar Zehri because he and his family had rendered sacrifices for democracy in Balochistan.
Altaf’s remarks evoke complaints: UK envoy
By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD, May 15: British High Commissioner Adam Thomson, faced with a barrage of questions on Wednesday about MQM leader Altaf Hussain’s recent remarks, remained non-committal about London pursuing charges against him (Altaf) for allegedly threatening to dismember Pakistan..
He was responding to questions from journalists if UK could extradite the MQM leader for his offensive public comments.
Mr Hussain, while reacting to rigging allegations in Karachi, had stated during an address to his supporters that if those against the MQM did not like its mandate then they should let Karachi secede. Later, when a section of the media interpreted it as a call to dismember Pakistan, the MQM leader clarified his statement, saying that his remarks were misinterpreted.
The British High Commissioner, while addressing a news conference, also responded to a number of questions about the possibility of British government taking action against the MQM leader for allegedly threatening his opponents in Karachi who had been protesting against alleged rigging in last week’s elections. The envoy said London Metropolitan Police had been flooded with complaints from both Pakistani and British citizens about those remarks. He noted that such allegations were usually taken very seriously by London police.
“As far as the United Kingdom is concerned, we have very strong laws which…prohibit the incitement to violence or incitement of hatred. And we take these laws seriously,” the high commissioner said.
He, however, said that it was up to the London police to investigate and decide whether or not to prosecute the accused.
“Unlike some countries in the world, the British police are fiercely independent of British government. And it is for the British police to investigate allegations of incitement to violence or incitement to hatred and to make a judgment on whether they can bring a successful prosecution,” he said.
Mr Thomson reminded that Mr Hussain had already retracted or denied the comments.
Speaking about elections, the high commissioner remarked that despite shortcomings there was nothing to doubt the poll results.
The United Kingdom, he said, endorsed the judgment made by the European Union’s Election Observation Mission that these elections were indeed a step forward for Pakistan.
Prospects of increased UK-Pakistan collaboration on shared challenges including countering violent extremism and boosting bilateral trade, Mr Thomson said, had improved following successful conduct of elections.
Over 500 suspects held in detention centre, court told
By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD, May 15: A man detained by intelligence agencies since 2011 told the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday that over 500 terrorism suspects had been kept in an internment centre in Lakki Marwat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. .
Rana Amir, who went missing in 2011, also was detained at the centre. This was confirmed by a defence ministry official who told the court on May 2 to ask the KPK government to produce him before it.
On the directive of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, the interior ministry and the KP government produced Amir during the hearing of a petition filed by his wife Rashida Amir.
Responding to the court’s questions, Amir said that intelligence personnel had picked him up from his dairy farm in Rahimyar Khan on Feb 10, 2011.
According to him, the agencies initially kept him in solitary confinement for five months somewhere in Bahawalpur. From there he was taken to Lahore and Peshawar and subsequently to Lakki Marwat.
He said he had been kept in a dark room and he saw daylight after several months when he was being brought to the IHC.
When asked how he identified the place of his detention, Amir said initially he guessed about the area from the call of prayer (Azan) and announcements made from mosques on loudspeakers. Later he talked to other detainees who informed him about the place.
He told the court that the Lakki Marwat centre housed more than 500 suspects in about 20 barracks.
He said that he had come to know during interrogation that he had been picked up on suspicion of being an activist of Lashkar-e- Jhangvi but he denied having any link with the proscribed organisation.
But Deputy Attorney general Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri told the court that according to the internment order Rana Amir had been arrested from Khajuri check-post near North Wazirstan Agency.
He alleged that the suspect belonged to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and was involved in the killing of a security official. Security forces found six grenades, a suicide vest, an AK-47 rifle and 180 bullets in his possession.
Justice Siddiqui directed the authorities to furnish details about Amir on May 24 and ordered the army authorities and the KP government to allow members of his family to meet him.
The petition for his recovery was filed in the court on May 28, 2012 after his family failed to ascertain his whereabouts with the help of police.
Rabbani says PPP to act as constructive opposition
By Our Staff Reporter
KARACHI, May 15: Senator Raza Rabbani, a leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, has said that his party will play the role of a constructive opposition in the National Assembly. .
Speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club here on Wednesday, he said the opposition would pursue a seven-point agenda to keep a check on the PML-N government.
He said the opposition would keep an eye on the IMF package and its new conditionalities, the policy for generation of employment, steps to control prices of essential commodities and restoration of trade unions in banks and it would also ensue that no anti-worker law be adopted by parliament.
The quantum of provincial autonomy which was ensured through the 18th Amendment would be guarded jealously and the government would not be allowed to roll it back, the senator said. Mr Rabbani headed the parliamentary committee which drafted the amendment.
He recalled that health and education were provincial subjects and the PPP would ensure that they remained with the provinces. It was unfortunate that the caretakers had tried to take back provincial control over education and health sectors by changing the rules of business of the federal government, Mr Rabbani said.
“My party will force implementation of Article 172 of the constitution, under which 50 per cent of resources had been allocated to the federal government and the rest to the provinces.”
The PPP leader said the opposition would see to it that the province where gas was discovered enjoyed the first right of use.
He said PML-N’s election manifesto was not clear about the strategy to control terrorism and extremism, but the opposition would monitor steps taken by the new government. “We will see how the new government will counter the threat of international terrorism and maintain law and order in the country.”
Mr Rabbani said the PML-N government should follow an independent foreign policy whose main points had been enunciated in a consensus resolution adopted by a joint session of parliament.
The government should adopt a clear policy about drone attacks, US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, ties with the US, Nato and Afghanistan, and talks with the Taliban, he added.
He said the opposition would monitor measures to be taken to end loadshedding.
It would also watch how the agreements signed by the PPP government to hand over Gwadar port to China and the gas pipeline project with Iran were implemented by the new government, he added.
Mr Rabbani said participation of political parties led by Sardar Akhtar Mengal and Dr Abdul Malik in the elections would help in resolving the Balochistan issue.
In reply a question, he said the federation would remain under threat if democratic institutions were not stable and the democratic process did not continue.
Lamha wins best film award in US
By Our Staff Reporter
KARACHI, May 15: Pakistani film Lamha won on Wednesday the award for Best Feature Film at the DC South Asian Film Festival 2013 in Washington. .
According to information received here, Lamha was the only Pakistani feature film to be selected for the festival and screened to a packed audience on May 12. The deputy chief of mission, Dr Asad Khan, represented the Pakistan Embassy at the screening of the film.
The film’s producer Meher Jaffri received the award from Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao.
The award ceremony included a panel discussion on the state of independent cinema in India and Pakistan. Producer/actor Meher Jaffri was guest speaker, alongside other filmmakers from South Asia.
“It is very difficult to compare our film industry that is still in its nascency to that of India’s. Having said that I am very excited for the path ahead as we, in Pakistan, are standing on the cusp of an emerging independent film scene aided by industry veterans who are beginning to listen to the increasing demand by audiences and filmmakers alike to figure out solutions and make space for Pakistani independent films that are already gaining acclaim internationally,” Ms Jaffri said.
Lamha previously won the Best Feature Film (Audience Choice) award with Aamina Sheikh taking home the award for Best Actress at the New York City International Film Festival 2012.
NHA chief replaced
By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD, May 15: National Highway Authority’s (NHA) Chairman Hamid Ali Khan was removed on Wednesday, said a notification issued by the Establishment Division. Dr Sajjad Hussain Baloch, who served as chairman of the Gwadar Development Authority, was made the NHA chief. .
An NHA spokesperson said Dr Baloch would take charge of his new post on Thursday.
NHA Member Operations Mujib Qadir was also removed and made officer on special duty.
Communications Minister Asad Mandokhel expressed ignorance about the reshuffle.
“As head of the ministry, I should have been consulted before making these changes,” he said.
However, the ministry issued a statement, saying transfer and postings were a routine matter.
“The transfer of Chairman, NHA, Hamid Ali Khan, and appointment of Sajjad Hussain Baloch in his place is the discretionary power of the cabinet secretariat/establishment division,” it said.
Musharraf will leave country soon: Ijaz
By Our Staff Reporter
LAHORE, May 15: Retired Gen Pervez Musharraf, who is being tried in a number of cases of serious nature and detained at his Chak Shahzad farmhouse sub-jail, will leave the country before the swearing-in of the new government, says PML-Z chief and MNA-elect Ijazul Haq..
Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, Mr Haq said his party would support the PML-N in formation of the new government at the centre.
The PML-Z leader, who won the NA-191 Bahawalnagar seat, said he had taken the decision in national interest.
Mr Haq, who also contested from NA-190 but lost to PML-N’s Tahir Bashir Cheema, accused his rival of poll rigging and said he would move the Election Commission of Pakistan.
In reply to a question about Gen Musharraf’s future, he said the former president would leave the country before the new government took charge in Islamabad.
Notices issued to Imran, Dr Sattar: ECP to hear plea for re-polling in NA 250
By Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD, May 15: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to hear on Friday a plea for re-polling in the entire NA 250 (Karachi) constituency and issued notices to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan and Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s deputy convener Dr Farooq Sattar..
The commission met here on Wednesday and took up 53 cases on the cause list. Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim did not attend the hearing.
When a petition filed by Advocate Maulvi Iqbal Haider, himself a candidate, seeking re-polling in the NA 250 constituency came up for hearing, the commission, according to sources, pointed out that a similar plea had been made by Dr Sattar in an application sent to the CEC.
The ECP expressed its desire to hear the parties before taking a decision on the issue and issued notices to the Sindh chief secretary, the PTI chief and the MQM leader.
It will decide on Friday whether to uphold its earlier decision to hold re-polling at 43 polling stations of NA 250 or in the entire constituency.
Mr Haider said voting at almost all the polling stations of the constituency had begun three hours after the time fixed by the commission. Besides, he said polling stations had been captured by activists of political parties and ballot boxes taken away. He claimed that Sindh High Court Chief Justice Musheer Alam also could not cast his vote.
The sources said the commission also ordered recount of the votes in NA 57 (Attock) on an application filed by Malik Amin Aslam of the PPP. The recount will take place at the office of the district returning officer at 8am on Thursday. According to unofficial results, Sheikh Aftab Ahmad of the PML-N had won the seat, securing 59,638 votes, while Malik Aslam had bagged 55,515 votes.
The commission ordered re-polling at 34 polling stations of three constituencies of the National Assembly and two of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.
The re-polling at two polling stations of NA 269 (Khuzdar), four of NA 41 (Fata), four of PK 71 (Bannu) and three of PK 72 (Bannu) will be held on May 21. Re-polling at 21 polling stations of NA 46 (Fata) will be held on May 25.
Talking to reporters after the ECP hearing, Mir Baz Khan Khetran of the PPP, who had lost to JUI-F candidate Maulana Ameer Zaman, alleged that hundreds of ballots papers had been stamped by one person in his constituency. He said that at a polling station where only 71 votes had been cast when polling closed, the result showed over 900 votes. He said the location of seven polling stations had been changed at the eleventh hour to up to 17km away.
He said the thumb impressions of the voters in his constituency should be verified through Nadra’s database. He also offered to bear expenses of the exercise.
Malik Nasir Khan from PK 73 and Pakhtun Yar from PK 70 said they had brought with them concrete evidence of rigging. They showed reporters ballot papers with stamps on the election symbol of book and fake identity cards.
Pakistani bags prestigious award
KARACHI, May 15: Arif Naqvi, the founder and chief executive officer of the Abraaj Group, has been chosen as one of the five honourees under the 2013 Oslo Business for Peace Award. .
Mr Naqvi was given the award at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway, by the Mayor of Oslo, Stian Berger Rosland, and the chairman of the Business for Peace Foundation, Per L. Saxegaard, a press release of the group said on Wednesday.
It said the Oslo Business for Peace Award was awarded after an extensive search conducted jointly by the International Chamber of Commerce, United Nations Development Programme and the Oslo-based Business for Peace Foundation.
The jury for the 2013 edition of the award comprised Nobel Laureates Professor Muhammad Yunus and Professor Michael A. Spence.
Mr Naqvi is the first Pakistani and the first chief executive from the global private equity industry to have received the award, according to the press release.
The Abraaj Group is a leading investor operating in Asia, Middle East and North Africa, Turkey and Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.
It is currently managing $7.5 billion across 25 sector- and country-specific funds.
Balochistan miracle: 544 votes enough for PA seat
By Iftikhar A. Khan and Kalbe Ali
ISLAMABAD, May 16: The overall voter turnout in the recent elections was impressive, but not in most of the constituencies in Balochistan..
In PB-41 (Awaran), the turnout was 1.18 per cent and Abdul Judoos Bizenjo of the Pakistan Muslim League was declared winner with only 544 votes. Mir Hidayatullah of the National Party, who bagged 95 votes, was the runner-up.
Of the 57,666 registered votes in the constituency, only 672 were cast.
What is surprising was that despite this dismal situation the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced the unofficial results, instead of deciding to ordering a repolling.
The turnout was similar in many other mainly Baloch constituencies.
In PB-50 (Kech), Akbar Ashkani of the PML-N won the seat with 1,385 votes against his nearest rival Mohammad Akram of NP who secured 1,331. The other seven candidates collectively polled 994 votes. The number of registered voters in the constituency is 59,097, but only 3,712 of them exercised their right of franchise.
In PB-42 (Panjgur), Rahmat Ali of NP won by getting 2,073 votes against 1,079 of his closest rival Asadullah of the Balochistan National Party. Of the 42,102 registered voters, only 4,892 chose to vote.
Turnout in PB-46 (Kharan) was relatively high. Of the 45,176 registered voters, 14,611 cast their votes. Abdul Karim Nosherwani of the PML-N, who secured only 3,418 votes, won the seat and Sanaullah Baloch of the BNP-M was the runner-up with 2,710 votes.
In PB-19 (Zhob), Jaffar Khan Mandokhel of the PML won the seat by securing 5,219 votes. Among 22 candidates in the run, only three — Sheikh Ayaz Mandokhel of the JUI-F, Mitha Khan of the PML-N and Abdul Qayyum of the Pakhtunkhawa Milli Awami Party — managed to bag more than 3,000 votes.
In PB-1 (Quetta), with 49,042 registered voters, Tahir Mehmood Khan of the PML-N won after polling 6,084 votes.
There are 66,979 registered voters in PB-4 (Quetta) and the winner was Raza Mohammad Barrech of the PkMAP with 5,352 votes.
In PB-49 (Kech), Mohammad Azeem of the National Party polled 3,472 out of 40,503 registered votes.
In PB-22 (Harnai-Sibi), the winner, Abdul Raheem Ziaratwal of the PkMAP, got 4,101 of 35,297 registered votes. Mohammad Islam of NP was elected in PB-43 (Panjgur) with 4,369 votes. There are 32,764 registered voters in the constituency.
Mir Mujeebul Rehman Hassani (Independent) won by securing 4,811 out of 38,171 registered votes in PB-47 (Washuk).
In PB-48 Kech, where registered voters are 74,374, Abdul Malik of NP won after securing 4,539 votes.
Mufti Ghulab Khan of the JUI-F was declared the winner with 5,755 votes in PB-18 (Sherani-Zhob) where registered voters are 68,599.
Mir Zafaraullah Khan Zehri, who obtained 5,229 votes in PB-37 (Kallat), won the election. There are 36,917 registered voters in the constituency.
In PB-40 (Nushki), where 61,882 voters are registered, Mir Ghulam Dastgir Badini (Independent) became the winner with 5,046 votes.
Only 22 candidates could obtain more than 10,000 votes in Balochistan.
Independent candidate Jam Kamal Khan secured the highest number of votes (35,180) in the province from PB-44 where 82,824 voters are registered.
Karachi issue: Meanwhile, ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan said there was an issue of rigging in Karachi. Talking to newsmen here on Thursday, he said the commission would decide on Friday whether to hold repolling in the entire NA-250 constituency.
He said PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s application seeking repolling in various constituencies was under consideration.
He said the system for verification of thumb impressions had been put in place for the purpose and no-one would be able to circumvent the system. Nadra had the capacity to handle the matching of thousands of thumb impressions and it had been asked to enhance its capacity, he said.
He described as baseless the claim of Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) that voter turnout in several constituencies was more than 100 per cent and said that such statements had been made at a time when the international community was praising the holding of transparent elections in Pakistan.
“We are ready for positive criticism, but those trying to negate facts should decide if it was good for Pakistan, democracy and the system.”
He said the entire record had been summoned and the matter would be thoroughly investigated.
“If the presiding officers had done something wrong they will be accountable for it, and if Fafen has done something wrong it would be responsible.”
Giving data of some of the constituencies mentioned in the Fafen report, he said in a polling station of PS-155 the turnout was 42 per cent and not 157 per cent as claimed by Fafen.In PS-19, the turnout was 31 per cent, and not 105 per cent. He said the Fafen report had cited the turnout in PS-210, PS-8, PS-173 and PS-80 as 132 per cent, 172 per cent, 107 per cent and 186 per cent while it was in fact 50 per cent, 74 per cent, 34 per cent and 73 per cent, respectively.
In PS-6, PS-109, PS-4, PS-7 and PS-14 the turnout was 47, 41, 65, 63 and 54 per cent and not 116, 161, 109, 127 and 320 per cent, respectively, as claimed by Fafen.
Mr Khan said the ECP had received 110 complaints of alleged rigging over the past three days and orders for recount had been issued in nine cases.
Election referee was Mehsud, not CEC, says Asfandyar
By Amir Wasim
ISLAMABAD, May 16: ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan has credited the Taliban for successfully engineering the rout of his party in recent elections. .
At the same time, he fired a broadside at the Election Commission of Pakistan which, according to him, was so ineffective in providing a level playing field to all the parties that it appeared the actual referee in the fight was Hakimullah Mehsud and not Justice Fakhruddin Ibrahim.
Mr Khan was addressing a press conference here on Thursday to analyse the results of the May 11 elections. He said he accepted the results, despite reservations, and his party would sit on the opposition benches in the National Assembly and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan assemblies.
“We are democratic people. Our elders have offered sacrifices for democracy. Therefore, despite having reservations, we accept the election results,” Mr Khan said after presiding over the first meeting of ANP’s central working committee after the elections.
Flanked by senior party leaders Afrasiab Khattak, Haji Adeel and Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Mr Khan said the Election Commission did nothing to provide a level playing field to his party to run the election campaign which was targeted by
“We thought that the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) would be the referee. But Hakimullah Mehsud was the referee and not Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim,” Mr Khan said referring to Taliban’s threats and attacks on ANP’s candidates and meetings during the election campaign. He said 61 ANP activists had been killed in 31 terrorist attacks on the party’s meetings and offices between March 30 and May 11.
The ANP chief said he had written letters to the CEC, the caretaker prime minister, the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the KP chief minister informing them about the “pre-poll rigging”, but there was no response from any of them. “We kept on wailing, but no-one listened to us,” he said, adding that his party’s candidates had been thrown in the wrestling ring with their hands and feet tied.
Mr Khan, who lost his NA seat in his hometown of Charsadda to a JUI-F man, expressed the hope that his party would soon revive itself and again get the people’s mandate which, according to him, had been “snatched from the party through terrorism”.
The former ruling party in KP and a partner in the PPP-led coalition government at the centre, the ANP this time only managed to secure four seats in the KP Assembly and one each in the National Assembly and Balochistan Assembly.
The ANP chief ruled out joining any alliance even in the opposition and said the party would take decisions on “issue-to-issue basis” as an “independent opposition”. He vowed to resist every move aimed at obstructing the implementation of 18th amendment.
Mr Khan said he had faced pressure within the party to boycott the elections, but he decided against it and believed that such a decision could provide an opportunity to others to do the same and that could undermine the democratic process.
He said his party would fully participate in by-elections.
Answering a question about allegations of rigging in some constituencies, he said it was unfortunate that parties were alleging rigging only in constituencies where they had lost while declaring the polls as fair and transparent in constituencies where they had won. “This trend and double standard must come to an end. Either accept the results as a whole or reject the elections as a whole.”
Mr Khan said he would soon constitute committees to review the causes of the party’s defeat. He said he himself was ready to face punishment if found responsible for the defeat.
Responding to a question about the poor performance of the KP government, he said if their performance was not good they should have been allowed to be ousted by people through the ballot, instead of having been targeted by terrorists.
He requested the parties forming governments at the centre and in the provinces to respect each other’s mandate and fulfil the promises they had made during the election campaign.
Responding to a question, he said the parties forming the government had been spared by the Taliban during the election campaign. He said when his party was in power, the Taliban had desired to make these parties guarantors in their talks with the government. Now these guarantors were going to form governments and one could hope that they would restore peace in the country, he added.
In reply to a question about the victories of the PPP and MQM in Sindh despite being on the hit-list of terrorists, Mr Khan said the situation in KP was not the same as in Karachi. The Taliban collected money from Karachi whereas in KP there was a war to gain space, he added.
He warned that Pakistan could face the worst law and order situation if a “concrete exit policy” was not adopted after the withdrawal of US and Nato forces from Afghanistan in 2014.
Plea to send Punjab staff for NA-250 rejected
LAHORE, May 16: The Punjab government has declined a request by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to depute staff for supervising re-polling at 43 polling stations of Karachi’s NA-250 constituency on the grounds that this will create bad blood for the province..
Elections at these polling stations could not be held on May 11 because of violence and allegations of rigging or mismanagement.
Official sources said on Thursday that the ECP’s request was found to be illegal and unconstitutional.
The Law Department had maintained that returning officer could summon staff from anywhere in the country for conducting an election. But this plea was not accepted.
It was found that elections in a province could only be supervised by the local staff. The government officials of a province could serve in another province on deputation but this rule can not be applied for conducting elections.
Officials said the final plea against the request was that politicians and voters in Karachi were already levelling allegations of rigging and raising objections on the victory of PML-N, and sending supervisory staff from Punjab would allow them another opportunity to blame the province for influencing the elections.
They said that the authorities concerned after con-sidering all aspects of the request sent a summary to the caretaker chief minister who then formally declined it.—Intikhab Hanif
Fazl fails to get PML-N support to form KP govt
By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD, May 16: Desperate to join government at the centre and in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman received a cold response from the PML-N on Thursday on his request to make joint efforts to stop the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf from forming its government in KP..
“PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has already categorically stated that the PTI has the first right to form the government in KP as it is the single largest party there,” former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif told reporters after his meeting with a delegation of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), headed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, at the farm house residence of Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, an MNA-elect from Islamabad.
Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri and Mohammad Akram Durrani accompanied Maulana Fazl. Mr Sharif was assisted by PML-N’s secretary general Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Pir Sabir Shah and Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.
Sources in the PML-N told Dawn that the meeting had taken place on the request of the JUI-F chief, who had come to convince the PML-N leadership that all parties had an equal right to try to form governments in provinces and the centre.
The sources said the PML-N had advised Maulana Fazl to wait and allow the PTI to form government in KP.
The PML-N, they said, had also advised him to respect the PTI’s mandate.
“In case the PTI fails to form government for any reason, only then we should make such an attempt,” a PML-N member, who was present in the meeting, quoted Shahbaz Sharif as having told the Maulana.
Maulana Fazl, whose party had secured 13 seats out of 99 general seats in the KP Assembly, has refused to accept the PTI’s mandate.
The PTI has already reached an agreement with the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and Qaumi Watan Party of Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao to form a coalition government in KP.
Both the PML-N and the JUI-F, however, discussed the possibilities of joining hands at the Centre and in Balochistan.
Speaking to newsmen after the meeting, Shahbaz Sharif said the challenges faced by the country needed to be addressed jointly. He said the PML-F was their ally in Sindh whereas party chief Nawaz Sharif wanted to take all political parties onboard to tackle terrorism, corruption and the energy crisis.
The JUI-F chief said that no decision had been made in the meeting regarding formation of the government in Balochistan and at the centre. “We have called a party meeting and will take the matter forward after taking everyone’s opinion. We will continue with our cooperation,” the Maulana said.
Mohammad Asghar adds: Later, PML-N leader Shahbaz Sharif held a meeting with six newly-elected independent National Assembly members from Fata at a hotel in Rawalpindi and sought their cooperation in formation of the government.
Mr Sharif was accompanied by Capt Safdar, Raja Ashfaq Serwar, Amir Maqam and Iqbal Zafar Jhagra in the meeting, according to a source.
MNAs-elect from Fata who met Mr Sharif were Bilal-ur-Rehman from Mohamand Agency, Shahji Gul (Khyber Agency), Dr Ghazi Gulab Jamal (Orakzai), Sajid Tori (Kurram), Bismillah Khan, the father of the KP governor, and Mohammad Nazir Khan (Waziristan).
Zardari invites Nawaz, Imran to lunch for Chinese PM
By Syed Irfan Raza
ISLAMABAD, May 16: President Asif Ali Zardari has invited heads of all political parties, including PML-N’s Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Imran Khan, to a luncheon he will be hosting in honour of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang at the Presidency next week..
The Chinese premier is arriving in Islamabad on May 22 on a two-day state visit on the invitation of President Zardari.
President’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said on Thursday that other politicians who had been invited to the luncheon included PML-Q’s Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Farooq Sattar, Awami National Party’s Asfandyar Wali Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami’s Syed Munawar Hasan, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Qaumi Watan Party’s Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Balochistan National Party-Mengal’s Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party’s Mahmood Khan Achakzai, National Party’s Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, National Peoples Party’s Ghulam Murtaza Khan Jatoi, PML-F’s Pir Sibghatullah Shah Rashidi (Pir Pagara), Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan’s Shahram Khan Tarakai, Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, and Balochistan National Party-Awami’s Mir Israrullah Khan Zehri.
PTI, allies want KP govt to be role model for other provinces
By Ashfaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR, May 16: Leaders of an alliance of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) hammered out on Thursday a formula for the formation of government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. .
“We have formed the alliance only to solve the problems of the people and bring about an improvement in health and education sectors. Ministries are not important for us. We want the KP government to be a role model for other provinces,” PTI’s Pervez Khan Khattak, who is likely to head the provincial government, said at a press conference held at the residence of QWP chairman Aftab Khan Sherpao. JI leader Sirajul Haq also attended the press conference.
PTI’s provincial chief Asad Qaisar stayed away, possibly because the party leadership did not nominate him for the post of chief minister.
Mr Khattak said details of distribution of portfolios were yet to be decided. “These are secondary matters. What is important for us is to work out a plan to replace the present class-based education system with a uniformed system where children of different social classes could study together,” he said, adding that the PTI would fulfil its promises regarding better education and healthcare facilities.
He said the worst victims of terrorism were Pakhtuns and resolving this would be on top of the agenda of his government.
The JI leader said his party did not hanker after power and ministries. “Poverty, corruption and bad governance are the major problems of the country. We want to improve civic services and have entered into the alliance only for this purpose,” he added.
Mr Haq said people had fulfilled their duty by casting votes and it was now the responsibility of elected representatives to play their role, adding that the confidence reposed by people in the political leadership must be translated into action and joint efforts should be made to improve the living condition of people.
Mr Sherpao said there were similarities in the political programmes of the three parties which would work as a binding force for the alliance. “Our alliance is practical and can benefit the masses.”
He said the three parties had agreed to hold elections for local bodies after formation of the provincial government.
He said the future KP government would establish funds for victims of natural calamities and internally displaced persons.
Mr Sherpao said the provincial government would try to have good working relationship with the federal government and avoid confrontation.
Peace process with India likely to gain pace, says FO
By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD, May 16: The Foreign Office said on Thursday that it expected the peace process with India to gain pace after the installation of the new government..
“We hope that the dialogue process would pick up momentum in all areas,” Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry said at the weekly media briefing.
The peace process has been on a virtual hold since the violations of the Line of Control in Kashmir at the start of this year. Tensions resurfaced when an Indian prisoner, Sarbjeet Singh, died after an attack by inmates in Lahore jail and a Pakistani, Sanaullah, was fatally beaten in Jammu jail. Another Pakistani, Abdul Jabbar, was injured in an attack in Tihar prison.
Mr Chaudhry said Pakistan had always emphasised continuity of the peace talks so that outstanding issues could be resolved.
The peace process has remained accident prone and there have been numerous starts and stops, which impeded progress towards normalisation of ties between the two countries.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while congratulating PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif on the victory of his party in the May 11 elections, had expressed the hope to work with him to “chart a new course and pursue a new destiny in the relations between our countries”.
Dr Singh also invited Mr Sharif to visit India at “a mutually convenient time”.
The PML-N chief, who is set to become the next prime minister, also extended an invitation to the Indian leader to visit Pakistan.
The spokesman said Pakistan was in touch with the Indian authorities over the issue of prisoners.
“We have approached the Indian government for focused discussions on the issue of prisoners. We hope that these focused discussions would address all aspects of this important issue, including the release of the 47 prisoners who have completed their sentence.”
There are some 300 Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails, of whom 47 have completed their sentences but continue to remain in detention because of delays in completion of release formalities.
The joint India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners has made a number of recommendations for humane treatment of prisoners. Although both countries have acknowledged the work done by the body, they have been slow to implement the recommendations.
Speaking on Afghanistan, Mr Chaudhry said Pakistan would continue to maintain a “cooperative approach” towards the country.
Afghanistan over the past couple of months has raised the contentious issue of Durand Line border and accused Pakistan of unauthorised border post construction. However, Pakistan has avoided playing into the controversies.
Contrary to difficulties in the political relations, the military-to-military ties between the two countries appear to have significantly improved.
Whale shark released by fishermen
By Our Staff Reporter
KARACHI, May 16: A juvenile whale shark, which got trapped in a net near Sonmiani Bay in Balochistan, has been successfully released by fishermen..
World Wide Fund of Nature (WWF) officials said on Thursday that the 3.5-metre-long whale shark got entangled in the gillnet during tuna fishing near Sapat area, part of Sonmiani Bay, two days ago. Captain of the vessel (Al-Saira) Mohammad Ismail and his crew took more than an hour to release the shark.
“Earlier, fishermen used to kill whale sharks for their liver oil used for smearing hull of fishing boats to keep it smooth and free of fouling animals. In February, fishermen killed a large female whale and brought its carcass to the Karachi Fish Harbour. It was later taken over by the government which created a lot of media hype,” said Mohammad Moazzam Khan, technical adviser (marine fisheries) of the WWF-Pakistan.
Pakistan, he said, was a signatory to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), an international treaty which listed whale sharks as an Appendix-II species that entailed their fishing under strict regulatory control.
He said sharks were used to be caught along Pakistan’s coast on a large commercial scale as well as for recreational purposes before independence, stopped in the 1960s.
“Fishermen still kill these animals for their liver and even meat (used for production of fish meal for poultry). But efforts are under way to create awareness among major stakeholders,” he said.
Rab Nawaz, WWF-P Karachi director, suggested that the species should be included in the Appendix-I of wildlife laws of Sindh and Balochistan to protect these gentle giants.
“Population of whale sharks is fast dwindling. There is no natural predator of this largest known fish. They are killed by fishing gears when they get entangled in them,” he said.
A whale shark, scientifically known as Rhincodon typus, is considered as an endangered animal across the world. It has been given a protected status by a number of countries, including India where they enjoy the same level of protection given to Indian rhinos, tigers and Asian elephants.
Whale sharks are occasionally reported from Pakistan’s offshore waters.
Kidnappers of Haider Gilani identified, claim police
By Suhail Kakakhel
NOWSHERA, May 16: Police expanded their search from Nowshera to the neighbouring Mardan district on Thursday to track down Ali Haider, the kidnapped son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who appears to have been held by a group of Afghan and local criminals..
According to an official, police were put on the trail following an accidental clue that came their way after a raid to recover another kidnapped person from Peshawar. Peshawar police raided Misri Banda, near Akora Khattak, to recover Abdul Wahab, who had been kidnapped from the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
But the captors had shifted him and a few others shortly before the raid.
The law enforcement personnel detained some women to pressure the kidnappers to free Wahab.
“It worked and the captors let Wahab go. He told police that among the other captives was Ali Haider Gilani,” Nowshera district police chief Waqar Ahmad told Dawn.
Mr Wahab identified Ali Haider from a photograph and also told police that he was wounded. He said Mr Gilani and other captives were being held somewhere nearby.
“Police conducted house-to-house search, but the kidnappers must have spotted them and moved the captives before the raid,” the official said. “They have their spotters,” he said.
Mr Ahmed said police would identify the motive and the group behind the kidnappings after thorough investigations.
“We know the identity of the main suspect and we have one suspect in custody,” the DPO said.
He said those behind the kidnapping included Afghans and local criminals.
“We are very close to getting the main suspect.”
A joint operation was carried out at Mera Marati by Nowshera police and other security forces to recover Ali Haider. According to sources, two kidnappers were arrested.The operation was launched early in the morning and all the roads in the area were cordoned off to carry out a search.
The area is considered sensitive and several militant activities have been reported there in the past few months.
The Afghan kidnappers have been identified as Fazlullah and Wazir, currently residing in Misri Banda.
The source said that two women and four other men had also been detained.
Mr Gilani, a candidate for the Punjab Assembly from PP 200, was kidnapped on May 9 after gunmen shot dead two of his associates, following a corner meeting in Farrukh Town, Multan.
Former prime minister Gilani had sought help from the Inter Services Intelligence agency for the recovery of his son.
Economic experts vie for foreign ministry
By Baqir Sajjad Syed
ISLAMABAD, May 16: With PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif getting down to selecting his team for running the next government, a lot of diplomatic and media focus has been on his likely choice for the foreign ministry. .
The choice will set the tone for his handling of foreign policy during his third term in office.
Several names have been floated, but Mr Sharif hasn’t taken a decision, according to his aides.
It wouldn’t be too long before the name is finalised and it is expected that his pick for the assignment will accompany him to Islamabad on Wednesday when he comes here to meet Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.
Mr Sharif will call on Prime Minister Li on Thursday, Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry said.
Before that, he will attend a lunch to be hosted by President Asif Ali Zardari in honour of the Chinese leader.
Speculations have coalesced around Senator Ishaq Dar, Ahsan Iqbal and Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan as the top contenders for the post. Sartaj Aziz, who served as foreign minister during Mr Sharif’s last tenure, is said to be a likely contender for the slot of adviser on foreign affairs if Mr Sharif decides not to appoint a minister.
If Mr Sharif’s meetings with foreign ambassadors who made a beeline for Raiwind after the PML-N’s victory were any indicator, the choice could be between PML-N’s experts on economy, Ishaq Dar and Sartaj Aziz.
The only factor going against Mr Aziz is that he is 84 and many think that he may not be physically fit enough to meet the rigorous demands of foreign relations.
Choice of an expert on economy as foreign minister or adviser will be in consonance with the PML-N’s manifesto.
It emphasises ‘reinforcing economic and commercial linkages for promoting sustainable and mutually beneficial relations’.
Chaudhry Nisar, the leader of opposition in the last National Assembly, is said to have expressed his interest in the slot, but has so far found few backers in Mr Sharif’s advisory team which is vetting the choices for various positions.
But one can’t still rule out a dark horse ultimately getting the job.
Former diplomats Riaz Khokhar, Shamshad Khan and Tariq Fatemi too have been eyeing plum slots as adviser or ambassadors to key foreign capitals.
It will be interesting to see what Mr Sharif has in mind for Mohammad Mehdi, his point man for the diplomatic community in Islamabad since his days of exile.
Sources indicated that Mr Sharif was also considering naming a new foreign secretary.
Cases against Fafen for misreporting poll results
By Our Staff Reporter
LAHORE, May 16: Punjab police are reported to have registered at least 16 cases against the Fair and Free Election Network (Fafen), a polling observer organisation, for allegedly misreporting results of some polling stations in the province and releasing them to the media. .
DIG (operations) Jawad Ahmad Dogar told Dawn on Thursday that up to 10 FIRs had been lodged in as many city police stations on the instructions of district returning officers who stated that the results of some polling stations had been misreported by Fefen which claimed that the number of votes cast had exceeded the total number of votes.
But Fefen’s chief executive officer Mudassir Rizvi said the organisation had already withdrawn its list of ‘controversial’ results of 40 polling stations across the country, including 22 in Punjab, after a meeting with officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Over 40,000 Fefen observers were engaged in the exercise.
He said the cases were registered against the organisation after it had pressed the ECP for placing statements of count by presiding officers on its website for the purpose of correction before announcing the results.
Mr Rizvi said that according to his information police had so far nominated him in 16 cases registered in Lahore and Rahim Yar Khan, adding that he did not know if cases had also been registered in other cities. He said section 505 (B) (statements conducing to public mischief) of the PPC had been invoked in the FIR.
Balochistan should have consensus CM, says NP
By Saleem Shahid
QUETTA, May 16: National Party chief Dr Abdul Malik Baloch has suggested to PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif to opt for a consensus chief minister in Balochistan in view of the sensitive political situation prevailing in the province..
Speaking at a press conference along with NP’s secretary general Tahir Bizenjo and MNA-elect Sardar Kamal Khan Bangulzai here on Thursday, he complained about rigging in the provincial assembly’s constituency PB-50, Kech-III.
“Nomination of a candidate for the post of chief minister is a very important issue and Mr Sharif should take a decision in this regard very carefully,” Dr Baloch said.
He said it was up to the PML-N chief whether he wanted his party’s nominee or a consensus candidate for the post.
He said the central committee of the National Party would decide on Sunday whether to join the government or stay out of it.
However, he said, the NP party had an understanding with the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and it was his desire that both of them and the PML-N should form a coalition government in the province.
“My party will join the government with dignity,” he said, adding that it was now the responsibility of Mr Sharif to form a coalition government along with the `genuine leaders’ of Balochistan.
Dr Baloch said his party was holding negotiations with various parties for the formation of a coalition and he along with other NP leaders had already held meetings with PkMAP chairman Mahmood Khan Achakzai on the issue. Dr Baloch said a meeting had also been held with PML-N’s provincial chief Sardar Sanaullah Zehri.
Referring to the election result of PB-50, he alleged that rigging had been committed there under a conspiracy to defeat the NP candidate who was winning with majority. “Our candidate Akram Baloch obtained 1,331 votes, the Balochistan National Party-M’s Qasim Baloch 869 and PML-N’s Akbar Askani 56,” he said.
He alleged that extra votes had been shown in the result in favour of the PML-N candidate from two polling stations in Mand and Tump where polling had not been conducted on May 11 because of absence of the election staff.
He alleged that Mr Askani had been declared winner through ‘pre-planned rigging’. He demanded re-polling at the two polling stations.
First militant attack in region since May 11 polls: Blast in Malakand mosque kills 13
By Gohar Ali Gohar
BATKHEL, May 17: A powerful bomb blast ripped through a mosque during Friday prayers in a remote mountainous area in the semi-tribal Malakand region, killing at least 13 worshippers and injuring 30. .
A second blast in a nearby mosque followed, but caused no casualties because people had left the mosque after the first explosion. The mosque was badly damaged.
Both the bombs were detonated by remote control.
These are the first incidents of bomb blasts since the successful elections were held in the region.
The incidents may pose a challenge to the new provincial government — likely to be headed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf which stands for talks with Taliban for peace in the province and the country.
There was mystery about the perpetrators because no militant organisation claimed responsibility till late night.
The two mosques in Baz Darra are barely hundred feet apart, according to Assistant Commissioner of Malakand Abdullah Mashal.
“Most of the casualties were caused by the first blast. The roof of the mosque collapsed and many of the wounded were pulled out from the debris,” Mr Mashal said on phone from Dargai. Fourteen people with critical injuries were taken to hospitals in different towns.
Army troops and Levies cordoned off the area to look for the perpetrators of the attack on the mosques.
Earlier in the morning, a low intensity bomb went off outside the house of a retired military officer but caused no damage.
The identity of the assailants or the motive behind the bombings could not be ascertained till late night.
The area was under the control of militants before 2009 when the army launched an operation and expelled them from the region and nearby Swat Valley.
“No militant activity has since been observed in the area. It has remained calm and elections were held there last week in a peaceful atmosphere. So, we have no idea who carried out the twin attacks,” Mr Mashal said.
“When we heard the explosion, we dashed to the mosque and saw injured people crying for help,” a local man said.
“I was offering prayers when the explosion took place. What happened afterwards and how I ended up here in hospital, I don’t remember,” said an injured young man in a hospital in Batkhela.
ARMY CONVOY ATTACKED: Late on Thursday night an army convoy was ambushed near Peshawar’s southern fringe of Mattani, killing five soldiers and wounding as many.
The soldiers from the army’s engineering unit were going to Peshawar from Bannu when they were fired upon, a security official said.
“This is how militants reciprocate offers of talks,” he said in a bitter tone.
Balochistan parties seal coalition accord
By Saleem Shahid
QUETTA, May 17: Leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and National Party (NP) have agreed to form a coalition government in Balochistan headed by the PML-N. .
Sardar Sanaullah Zehri of PML-N, Syed Akram Shah of PkMAP and Dr Abdul Malik of NP announced the decision at a joint press conference here on Friday.
The PkMAP and NP leaders said they would support PML-N’s candidate for the post of chief minister.
They hoped that the formation of the coalition government would strengthen democracy and promote harmony in the province.
PkMAP secretary general Akram Shah said his party would join the coalition to improve security situation in the province, solve problems of the masses and strengthen democratic process. He said priorities of the government would be to end corruption, malpractices, financial irregularities and mismanagement.
NP chief Dr Abdul Malik said his party believed in resolving issues through dialogue. He said the coalition government would try to put an end to injustices and atrocities against the people of Balochistan.
PML-N provincial chief Sardar Zehri said his party would seek cooperation of all political stakeholders for resolving issues in Balochistan, adding that joint efforts would be made to solve problems of the people and improve their living conditions.
He thanked the leadership of PkMAP and NP for extending support to PML-N and hoped that their alliance would bring about a new era of progress and prosperity in Balochistan.
ECP rejects petition for poll in entire constituency: Muttahida to boycott re-polling in Karachi
KARACHI/ISLAMABAD, May 17: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement will boycott re-polling in 43 polling stations of Karachi’s NA-250 constituency and corresponding Sindh Assembly seats (PS-112, 113) hours after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) dismissed its plea for re-election in the entire constituency..
Thy boycott was announced by MQM leader Raza Haroon at a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Karachi on Friday evening. The decision was taken at a meeting of the MQM coordination committee held simultaneously in Karachi and London.
Mr Haroon said it was his party’s democratic right to reject the ECP order, adding that it would take “every possible action” against what he called the unconstitutional and illegal decision and approach every forum to raise its voice.
He accused the commission of dividing the people of different cities in the country and also people of Karachi.
He alleged that the ECP had failed to send polling staff and election material on time to the polling stations in NA-250.
He also accused the commission of failing to take notice of violations of election-related laws by Arif Alvi, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf candidate for the NA seat.
He said the media had focused on only one polling station and ignored others in Buzzerta Line, Dolly Khata, Punjab Colony and Shireen Jinnah Colony etc.
He alleged that conspiracies had been hatched to snatch the mandate of the MQM even before the beginning of the election process.
He said delimitation had been carried out only in Karachi, after the announcement of the election schedule and in the absence of a fresh national census.
He warned those plotting against the MQM to be careful and said no operation had eliminated the party.
Earlier in Islamabad, the ECP dismissed the MQM’s petition for re-polling in the entire NA-250 constituency on the ground that low turnout was no justification for it.
In its order, the ECP called for army deployment in and outside the 43 polling stations. It proposed that the army should assist the provincial administration, Rangers and police in maintaining law and order in Karachi on Saturday, the day of re-polling, under Article 245 of the constitution.
It sent a copy of the order to the directorate general (military operations) of the General Headquarters.
The commission met here with Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Fakharuddin G. Ebrahim in the chair and heard the parties concerned — the MQM and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
The MQM was represented by its deputy convener Dr Farooq Sattar, Babar Ghauri and Senator Dr Farogh Naseem and the PTI by its candidate Dr Arif Alvi.
The ECP directed the election commissioner of Sindh to finalise arrangements for re-polling in accordance with its May 14 notification.
The order also calls for re-polling in NA-250’s corresponding constituencies of Sindh Assembly — PS 112 and 113 — on the basis of a report from the district returning officer of Karachi South that polling at the stations could not begin till 2pm and that large-scale malpractices had taken place.
The chief secretary of Sindh assured the commission that he would provide security and minimise chances of any untoward incident with the support of the army.
Judges detention case: Complaint withdrawn against Musharraf
By Malik Asad
ISLAMABAD, May 17: In a surprising development, the lawyer who had filed a petition in the judges’ detention case has withdrawn his complaint against former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf. .
The decision by Advocate Chaudhry Mohammad Aslam Ghumman came a day before the hearing of the case on Saturday by the Islamabad Anti-Terrorism Court at Gen Musharraf’s Chak Shahzad farmhouse which has been declared a sub-jail.
The judges’ detention case was registered by the Secretariat Police Station on Aug 11, 2009, on the complaint of Advocate Ghumman who had sought legal proceedings against the former military ruler for confining 60 judges of the superior courts for over five months at their homes and restraining them from administering justice.
Talking to Dawn on Friday, Advocate Ghumman said he had withdrawn the complaint in the larger national interest. “I think that the trial of Gen Musharraf in such a state of affairs is not in the national interest and, therefore, I have decided to withdraw my complaint,” he said.
“Before taking the decision to withdraw the petition I also consulted my friends and it was taken after due deliberation.”
Advocate Ghumman said he would neither appear before the court nor press for the prosecution of Gen Musharraf, adding that it was up to the court to decide the fate of the case against him.
It may be mentioned that over the past couple of weeks at least three lawyers, including special prosecutor of Islamabad police Syed Mohammad Tayyab, have dissociated themselves from the case. The other two — Raja Rizwan Abbasi and Qamar Afzal — are reported to have received threats from unknown people.
But Advocate Ghumman rejected reports that he had withdrawn the complaint under any pressure or fear and said he had never been threatened by any quarter.
Advocate Ashraf Gujjar, the counsel for Mr Ghumman, told Dawn that he was not aware of the decision taken by his client. He said Mr Ghumman had not consulted him on the issue although he had been appearing in the court on his behalf.
Advocate Gujjar was of the opinion that Mr Ghumman could not withdraw the complaint because the FIR also included sections of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. Only the state could withdraw the case. According to legal expert Barrister Zafarullah Khan, an individual can dissociate himself from prosecution but cannot withdraw a case. “After the happening of a crime, a complainant informs the state machinery about it and the responsibility to prosecute the criminal is put on the shoulder of police or other law-enforcement agencies,” he told Dawn.
“Since the crime is considered an illegal act against the society and the state, only the federal or provincial government through the district magistrate (deputy commissioner) can withdraw the case against a criminal,” he said.
The complaint against Gen Musharraf was registered under section 344 of the Pakistan Panel Code. The offence is a bailable and entails a maximum imprisonment of three years.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court had dismissed the pre-arrest bail plea of Gen Musharraf on April 18 and observed that the act of detaining the judges of superior courts and forcefully restraining them from performing their lawful duty was an act of terrorism. He ordered police to book the former military ruler under section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Gen Musharraf may get life imprisonment if he is convicted by the court under this section.
PML-N asks caretakers to stop ‘illegal’ appointments
By Amjad Mahmood
LAHORE, May 17: Having attained simple majority in the National Assembly after the joining of 17 independent MNAs-elect, the PML-N has started asserting itself and asked the caretaker government on Friday to refrain from taking important decisions like appointment to certain key posts..
The party, which is poised to form government at the centre and at least in Punjab, criticised the caretaker government and described as ‘illegal’ posting of ‘notorious’ persons to offices like chairperson of the National Electric Power Regularity Authority (Nepra) and transfer of some federal secretaries.
“The caretaker prime minister should not make appointments (to certain key posts) at the behest of President Asif Zardari. He is listening to President Zardari but not us,” PML-N leader Shahbaz Sharif said.
He was talking to journalists at Raiwind after a meeting with National People’s Party (NPP) leader Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi on Friday. During the meeting, Mr Jatoi announced merging his NPP into the PML-N.
“The prime minister should respect the people’s mandate. The PM is legally, morally and politically obliged to respect this mandate but he is taking instructions from President Zardari,” Mr Shahbaz said, warning of a stern stance if the caretakers did not change their attitude.
In reply to a question, he said no meeting was scheduled between PML-N leaders and President Zardari. “We are going to Islamabad (on May 22), but only to call on the Chinese prime minister there,” he said.
The Chinese leader is due in Islamabad next week.
Ahsan Iqbal, the PML-N’s deputy secretary general, wonders what is forcing the interim government to take important decisions while the new set-up is going to charge within 10 days.
“It is illegal and outside their mandate to post federal secretaries and replace the Nepra head just days before the caretakers are going to leave the charge.”
“We respect mandate of all parties in different provinces and others should respect our mandate,” Mr Iqbal added.
In reply to a query about allegations of rigging, he complained that government officials were reshuffled in a ‘storm’ of transfers in Punjab while in other provinces nothing was done as President Zardari’s brother-in-law Fazal Pechecho was posted as Sindh additional chief secretary before the polls.
Ghaus Ali Shah, president of the PML-N’s Sindh chapter, said his party had already expressed reservations about caretaker chief minister of Sindh. “That’s the reason rigging was clearly observed during polls in Sindh,” he added.
Khoso orders release of 51 Indian fishermen
By Khawar Ghumman
ISLAMABAD, May 17: The post-election bonhomie between Pakistan and India continues to pick momentum. Caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso ordered on Friday release of 51 Indian fishermen on humanitarian grounds and as a gesture of goodwill. .
The prisoners have already served their sentences.
Nawaz Sharif, the PML-N chief, has already expressed his desire to proactively work with India to resolve issues and strengthen relations between the two countries. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was among the first few international dignitaries who had called Mr Sharif and congratulated him on winning the elections.
According to an official statement, the decision to release the Indian fishermen was taken at a high-level meeting presided over by Prime Minister Khoso and attended by federal Law Minister Ahmer Bilal Sufi, Sindh Chief Minister retired Justice Zahid Qurban Alvi and officials of the ministries of interior, foreign affairs and law and the PM Secretariat.
Talking to Dawn, Mr Sufi explained that it was purely a decision of the caretaker government and had nothing to do with the PML-N chief’s statement about India-Pakistan relations. “It’s just a coincidence that we have taken this decision at this point and time, and we will be happy if it plays any role in bringing the two countries closer to each other.”
He said the Sindh chief minister had raised the issue and Prime Minister Khoso agreed to resolve it. Justice Alvi was of the opinion that those Indian prisoners who had completed their sentences should be released without any delay. He said the prisoners who had served their sentences would be released on receiving confirmation of their citizenship status by the Indian authorities.
“Verification of their national status is a cumbersome process and the moment we received confirmation of the 51 fishermen, the government decided to release them forthwith,” Mr Sufi said.
The prime minister was informed during the meeting that currently 482 Indians were in Pakistani jails, while 496 Pakistanis were in Indian jails.
The prime minister expressed the hope that the Indian government would reciprocate the gesture.
He directed the foreign ministry to hold talks with the Indian authorities for the release of Pakistani prisoners and return of Indian prisoners.
Fafen says merger of polling stations led to result errors
By Kalbe Ali
ISLAMABAD, May 17: The Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) said on Friday that last-minute changes or merger of some polling stations by returning officers led to erroneous conclusions that more than 100 per cent votes were cast in some polling stations..
Speaking at press conference at the National Press Club, Fafen representative Sarwar Bari said the confusion had been created by returning officers who just 24-30 hours before holding of elections changed the status of several polling stations — either merging them or shifting some of the polling booths. This led to release of the list of some polling stations showing 100 per cent turnout. He also apologised to media over the matter.
Later, Fafen retracted its statement and clarified that it was the result of some confusion.
Mr Bari also expressed concern over registration of cases against Fafen CEO Mudassar Rizvi and threats hurled against him by some politicians.
“We have evidence in the form of SMS and even a threatening call has been received from Ayaz Sadiq, the PML-N leader who won from NA-122,” said Mr Bari.
Ayaz Sadiq beat Imran Khan, the PTI chief, in the Lahore constituency.
“The caller from the personal number of Ayaz Sadiq, the MNA-elect, told Mudassar Rizvi that he would not be allowed to live in Pakistan.”
Flanked by social activist Marvi Sirmed and others, Mr Bari said that due to threats Muddassar Rizvi had been forced to reduce his public interaction.
“But this does not mean that we can be cowed down by such acts. We only want to take precautions to protect his life,” he said.
The NA-122 is included in the list of 40 National Assembly constituencies where Fafen had reported more than 100 per cent voter turnout or vote rigging.
Ms Marvi Sirmed said that it was being claimed now that the change or merging of polling stations had been carried out after consultations with Fafen or other NGOs, but this was not true.
“The number of registered voters got increased at polling stations as they were merged or altered, but the ECP documents, including its website, had the original registered vote count.”
She said that it took time for observers to understand the flaw and the list was withdrawn when the situation became clear.
Mr Bari said that the same problem had been reported from many areas where the 8300 service was unable to guide voters to their polling stations.
“This is because the ECP had original data that was being provided by mobile companies through Nadra, but ROs had changed the location,” Mr Bari said.
He said that to cover up their faults, returning officers had got 16 cases registered against Mudassar Rizvi.
“We have come across reports that ballot papers were found on streets. Some footage have also been shown by some TV channels as the evidence, but no FIR has been registered against any officer concerned and no action has been taken against them.
“What did Muddasar do — highlighted a flaw and when it was cleared, he ordered the list to be withdrawn.”
Fafen representatives also said that a majority of returning officers added to the confusion by not pasting a copy of the Form XIV outside the polling station after results had been announced.
The Form XIV contains details of the number of votes cast at a polling station and obtained by each candidate in that particular polling station.
The Fafen representatives said that the confusion could be reduced if the number of registered voters in each polling station was also written in the Form XIV.
Chinese PM to address Senate on May 23
By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD, May 17: Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, who is arriving in Islamabad next week on a two-day visit, will address on May 23 a special session of the Senate which has been summoned by President Asif Ali Zardari..
Usually the visiting head of a state or government addresses a joint session of parliament (Senate and National Assembly). “The Chinese leader would address the Senate session because a joint session of parliament is not possible by May 23,” presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.
The senate session will be prorogued after the address.
On Wednesday, a day before the Senate session, the president will host a lunch in the honour of the Chinese premier which is expected to be attended by top politicians of the country, including PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif.
Imran seeks action against Altaf
By Our Staff Reporter
LAHORE, May 17: British High Commissioner Adam Thomson called on Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan in Shaukat Khanum Hospital here on Friday..
The envoy enquired after the health of Mr Khan, who is under treatment for injuries he suffered from a fall off a lifter at an election rally in Lahore.
Mr Khan, PTI sources said, asked the British envoy that the UK should take action against Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Altaf Hussain for inciting the people of Karachi to violence.
He said British laws did not allow any British citizen to use the country against inciting terrorism or violence in other countries.
Mr Khan called for a warning to be issued to the MQM leader for making `inflammatory speeches’.
Some flaws: After the polls WITH the votes now in but counting continuing till the early hours of the morning, the focus will inevitably turn towards the numbers and results — the overall result being the headline that will dominate most other things. But in a democratic order, the process is often as important, if not more so, than the results and yesterday’s voting process was marred by poor management and confusion in too many areas to overlook. Karachi, for example, has long been notorious for holding some of the most biased and skewed elections nationally but there was a legitimate expectation that an independent Election Commission of Pakistan aided by an interim administration would at least try and hold freer and fairer elections than in the past. Unhappily, that did not happen.. The mistakes and shortcomings go far beyond Karachi, however, and while no single incident may rise to the status of a sensational lapse, cumulatively they could impact individual races, particularly in close contests. Polling stations running out of ballot papers, some polling stations receiving ballots for different constituencies, individuals finding their votes had been moved to different polling stations — all of these were administrative problems that could, and should, have been better handled. In Balochistan, in some polling stations no votes at all were cast because poll staff did not show up due to security fears — an issue that had already been flagged and for which the ECP and provincial authorities had enough time to address. Even after the ECP acted with some alacrity to extend voting hours, the message was not transmitted uniformly down to the polling station level, meaning some voters queuing up for hours were unable to cast their vote.Still, for all the flaws and mistakes, yesterday was a good day for democracy. The lives that were lost in attacks on Saturday were a bloody reminder of the cost this election has come at and the threat that remains; however, the worst fears of many did not materialise and overall a great number of people were able to cast their vote freely and fairly. That the Pakistani public has embraced democracy as the way forward despite all manners of threats and assaults on the democratic system is perhaps the single most reassuring development for the democratic project going forward. Psephologists will parse the results of this election later and give their verdict — but it already appears that the Pakistan of 2013 is very different to the Pakistan of 2002 or 1997 or 1993 or 1985. Democracy is growing and learning. Another fire tragedy: LDA Plaza blaze IT is ironic that the Lahore Development Authority, tasked with enforcing fire codes in the Punjab capital’s buildings, was apparently lax in doing so when it involved its own structure. At least 23 people died in the LDA Plaza blaze which broke out on Thursday and gutted several floors. Some of the victims jumped to their deaths to escape the inferno. Indicating the lack of fire safety awareness in the public, some survivors of the tragedy said a stampede broke out in the building when the fire started. One of the people lucky enough to escape the fire told this paper that the building lacked fire alarms. Also, Rescue 1122’s ladders were unable to reach the people trapped on the higher floors of the nine-storey building. There are also claims that the rescuers were slow to arrive. It is sheer luck that the death toll was not higher, as hundreds worked in the building. In a disturbing repeat of the blaze in Karachi’s State Life building last year, in which TV cameras caught a young man plunging to his death, footage of victims jumping from the LDA Plaza was repeatedly broadcast. Clearly, media houses need to refrain from airing such harrowing footage, which is tasteless and only adds to the mental agony of victims’ families.. Several deadly fire incidents have been reported in our cities in the recent past, but the authorities’ approach towards fire safety has not changed. Considering the number of high-rise buildings sprouting up across urban Pakistan, it is imperative that all such structures be equipped with fire alarms, extinguishers or sprinkler systems, while clearly marked fire exits must be mandatory. Building occupants must also be made to practise fire drills periodically. What is more, disaster management bodies need to be equipped with the gear necessary to battle blazes in high-rises. Properly trained emergency response personnel can save precious lives if deployed in time and armed with the right equipment. By continuing to ignore fire safety regulations and preparedness we are only putting more lives at risk. Record price tag: Campaign spending DESPITE the threats, people did turn out yesterday in their millions to vote. It has taken many complex factors and realities to bring the country to this juncture, but one prosaic essential underpins them: money. It takes funds, large amounts of them, to run an election campaign on any meaningful scale. And the polls held yesterday were historic also in that they seem to have set a record in terms of spending. The intelligent guess going around is Rs400bn, representing collective spending by the government, the political parties and the candidates during the one-month campaign period. In 2008, spending was estimated at about half this figure, over double the campaign time.. Of this sum, some Rs5bn were requisitioned by the Election Commission of Pakistan alone for ensuring free and fair elections. But it is the remainder that must be accounted for when the election campaigns are recalled. Unlike the past, this time there was an inordinate focus on paid advertising through the media. Constrained no doubt by security concerns from holding the normal corner meetings and rallies, the parties turned to the expensive mass dissemination of their message — and in many places where there were rallies, they were impressive in both scale and the price tag they would have carried. The ECP did put a cap on election spending. It now needs to be established where those caps were breached, and by whom. This is vital because success dependent on access to funds obviously tilts the playing field against the smaller parties and independent candidates. Further, it surreptitiously nudges parties towards courting the rich, thus corrupting the system. The ECP needs to do its level best, now, to take action on the complaints it is bound to receive in this regard and also make its own inquiries wherever appropriate. Rise and fall: Poll results UNEXPECTED it certainly was but the PML-N surging to a near-majority in the National Assembly in Saturday’s elections may more accurately be described as stunning. This was supposed to be the era of coalitions, of parties and voters too divided to allow any one voice to rise above all others. And this was the election and campaign in which Imran Khan and his PTI threatened to turn electoral logic on its head and make unprecedented gains, particularly given the wild swing in momentum towards the PTI in the last two weeks of the campaign. Extraordinarily, none of that materialised and it is the PML-N that has produced a wave of its own on the back of silent voters who turned out in droves to catapult the party to power once again.. Why were the predictions so far off, with no one, barring the most partisan of PML-N supporters, predicting the scale of Saturday’s success? At this early stage, three reasons seem to be responsible. First, the media, dominated by and representative of urban, middle-class Pakistan, drank a bit too much of the PTI Kool-Aid, warming to a message that resonated with a large section of the media and overlooking, or perhaps just cut off from, other important sections of the Pakistani electorate. In a one-man, one-vote system, emphasising one group’s aspirations can produce skewed analyses. Second, Imran Khan himself helped build the hype with his soaring promises of unprecedented success delivered in a brazenly confident manner and backed by impressive turnouts at his many rallies in the last days of the campaign. The emotional draw of Mr Khan’s message was in the end harder for analysts and the media to resist than the electorate itself. Third, the PML-N’s solid campaign both protected its base and appears to have achieved an important breakthrough for the party — the less well-to-do and poorer sections of the electorate. In making that breakthrough the PML-N appears to have benefited from the PPP’s abysmal performance over the past five years and the party’s non-campaign. Once the dust settles, both winner and loser — the PML-N and PTI — will have much to be proud of. Despite being relentlessly attacked from all sides, the PML-N and Nawaz Sharif resolutely kept their focus on what needs to be done to solve grave national issues, a clear mandate being the first step towards that. And despite falling short of its own lofty expectations, the PTI has injected a much-needed dose of vigour and vitality into the democratic project. Unable to vote: Loopholes in the system THERE has been justifiable anger amongst progressive quarters over the fact that in some areas women were prevented from voting. Enfranchisement has to be universal, with no caveats. This challenge takes on even greater importance when it is considered that these women were not the only ones unable to vote on Saturday. An as yet uncounted number of people could not vote because they had applied for the renewal of their CNICs, and the expired cards had been kept as per procedure by Nadra. The authorities did notice, and a few days before the polls the ECP announced that ballots could be cast on expired CNICs, while Nadra said that the cards of people applying between then and May 11 would not be confiscated. But it was already too late for some. Then, there were the extra policemen sent to Islamabad for election duty. Over 8,000 of them did not vote because they were registered in their areas of residence, and their department failed to ensure postal balloting. Many of them did not know about this right while others could not meet the postal ballot deadline because of their work schedule — wherever the fault lay, they did not vote. Similar was the case with voters registered in cities other than where they now reside. While much of the onus lies on the citizens themselves for not bothering to change the details of where they were registered, in many cases they tried but failed. In any case, a strong public awareness campaign and greater effort on part of the authorities would have helped.. Universal enfranchisement is an on-going exercise and in general the ECP has not done badly at all in this election. But loopholes remain, and it is hoped that the ECP, Nadra and other departments involved in the electioneering process continue to work on them. As the turnout in these elections shows, people do believe in the electoral process. The state must do its bit by continuing to improve the system. Old habits die hard: NYT journalist expelled IT seems that the mindset that drives segments of the establishment has not changed from the time that media censorship was in vogue in Pakistan. It is also apparent that some powerful elements did not like what Declan Walsh, Islamabad bureau chief of the New York Times, was writing. Mr Walsh, who was on Thursday told to leave Pakistan within 72 hours due to his alleged “undesirable activities”, has since left the country. Mr Walsh is a journalist of international repute who has covered Pakistan for nearly a decade, previously for the British paper The Guardian, and knows this country well. He has indeed written on sensitive topics such as militant violence and the Pakistan-US relationship, but we agree with the NYT that his reporting has been “balanced, nuanced and factual”. What is more, the authorities failed to provide any reason why they found the journalist’s activities “undesirable” when they delivered his expulsion letter.. The other troubling aspect is the timing of the orders. Mr Walsh’s visa was cancelled at a time when the country was preoccupied with Saturday’s general elections, and those who did not want him here knew this was an opportune time to strike. Previously, attempts were made to deny him a visa extension, but with the intervention of the political government the matter was resolved. It is unfortunate that the caretaker government did nothing to stop Mr Walsh’s expulsion, especially as the interim information minister himself is a seasoned journalist. The powers that be must realise that such efforts only boomerang and work to enhance Pakistan’s image as an unwelcome place for journalists. The media — both local and foreign — must be free to report the facts without any let or hindrance created by any quarter. Investigation needed: Rigging allegations ELECTION day rigging is as old as elections themselves as is the complaint of rigging by losing candidates. After each election, the claims and counter-claims have to be examined carefully — for disenfranchising specific voters and keeping the overall goal of credibility in mind. Since Saturday, the PTI’s charge of electoral fraud has grown louder, with party leaders and supporters denouncing what they see as manipulated results. Joining in the chorus have been the Sindhi nationalists and candidates contesting against the PPP in interior Sindh, parts of which remained closed yesterday for the third day in a row. The MQM too has predictably thrown in its tuppence. Elsewhere, the Baloch nationalist parties have cried foul — either because polling did not take place in a staggering number of polling stations due to security fears or because of other forms of rigging.. Easiest to address could be the PTI’s claims: both because they prima facie appear to be legitimate and because they are limited to a small number of constituencies. In Karachi and Lahore in particular, the PTI appears to have collected evidence of rigging that the ECP should take notice of; it should consider more draconian steps than simply holding a partial re-poll as has been ordered in NA-250. Similarly, in interior Sindh, away from mobile-phone cameras and a large media presence, the complaints of rigging and the methods winners are accused of using have a very familiar ring to them; where there is electoral smoke, there could be a fire that has devoured many individuals’ vote. When elections are held simultaneously across the country as they were on Saturday, the ECP’s resources are perhaps understandably stretched thin. Now that specific allegations in specific constituencies have surfaced, the ECP should study them closely and determine whether polling across some constituencies must be done again and what administrative and security resources are needed to ensure fairer and freer polling. There is no good reason why what was difficult to prevent on Saturday cannot be thwarted in re-polls at a later date.Having said that, the political leadership of parties that claim to have been cheated needs to accept the overall reality of Saturday’s election: people voted in large numbers and delivered a fairly emphatic mandate at the centre and in the provinces. The overall credibility of the elections should not be obscured by specific misdeeds in a relatively small number of constituencies. Balochistan’s problems are of a different order of magnitude, however, and the ECP may need to intervene more emphatically there. Spread too thin: Multiple constituency system THE idea of a politician having a constituency is underpinned by the assumption that of all the areas in the country, this is where he is known and commands a vote bank. Politicians have ownership over and a stake in their constituencies. For this reason, in most established democracies, politicians do not — or are not allowed to — run for elections from multiple constituencies. Not so in Pakistan, where things are done differently. Politicians can and do hedge their bets. In the May 11 elections, 15 candidates ran for more than one constituency. Once the results are officially declared several of them will have to decide which seat to retain and the seats thus vacated will then be contested in by-elections.. There is more than a single count on which this system can be criticised. First, there is the extra expenditure and hassle incurred by the state, the candidates and indeed the voter who must mobilise himself once again to go to the polling station and cast his ballot — generally, the turnout in such by-polls tends to be much lower than in the general elections. Then, it distorts the mechanics of an impartial election. The idea behind holding countrywide elections on the same day is that one result should not affect the outcome elsewhere; but when by-polls are held after the results of the general elections have been announced, voters already know which way the tide has turned. But perhaps most importantly, the prospect of standing from multiple constituencies has the consequence of spreading the politicians too thin. With several areas to canvass, they end up being a jack of all trades, master of none. The practice also detracts from the strength of the relationship between a candidate and his constituents. In the spirit of continually improving the electoral system, this issue must be examined by the new parliament and candidates should be restricted to standing from just one constituency. Rafsanjani’s surprise: Iran presidential race IRAN’S political landscape seems to have been transformed with Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s decision to take part in the presidential election next month. A seasoned politician who had been Iran’s president for eight years (1989-97), Mr Rafsanjani will be opposed, among others, by Said Jalili, Iran’s nuclear negotiator, and Esfandyar Rahim Mashaei, one of Mr Ahmadinejad’s close aides. Having fallen out with spiritual leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he first has to have his name cleared by the Guardian Council, which will vet the over 400 candidates in the field. It is, however, highly unlikely that it can block the candidature of a man of Mr Rafsanjani’s stature. A former head of the Expediency Council, Mr Rafsanjani has been critical of the regime since the controversial 2009 presidential election and spearheading the reform movement. Relations with Ayatollah Khamenei deteriorated after Mr Rafsanjani sent him an open letter deploring the supreme spiritual leader’s silence over Mr Ahmadinejad’s accusations that Mr Rafsanjani was among the “corrupt leaders” supporting Mr Ahmadinejad’s rival, Mir-Hossein Moussavi.. Considered one of Iran’s richest persons, Mr Rafsanjani is a firm believer in a free-market economy and is likely, while campaigning, to capitalise on Iran’s difficult economic situation in the aftermath of the international sanctions. Opposed to the regime’s repression of the media, Mr Rafsanjani has called time and again for the release of journalists arrested after the 2009 election. He is also opposed to Iran’s harsh penal code and believes in greater freedom for women. As president he had pursued moderate policies in international affairs and adopted a less rigid attitude on the nuclear question. If elected, he is likely to lower the level of Iran’s confrontation with the West. Clarity required: PML-N stance on militancy CONTINUING from where he left off in the last days of the election campaign, prime minister-in-waiting Nawaz Sharif has said all the right things about the US, India and Afghanistan in interviews with the foreign media on Monday. Calling for a reset or improvement of ties with the US, India and Afghanistan, Mr Sharif took an encouragingly pragmatic and positive line on Pakistan’s key external relationships. Even when discussing the fraught issue of US drone strikes in Fata, Mr Sharif took a measured line, refusing to be drawn into jingoistic and bellicose rhetoric while underlining the problems the strikes have created politically inside Pakistan. It is encouraging that Nawaz Sharif the incoming prime minister is speaking in much the same way as Nawaz Sharif the candidate spoke.. For all the positivity Mr Sharif’s comments have generated, however, there is still a very grey area in the PML-N’s policy framework: what, if anything, does the party intend to do about the domestic threat from militancy and extremism, particularly in the N-League’s Punjab electoral base? On Afghanistan, Mr Sharif’s suggestion that his government will help foreign powers draw down their forces will be a reassuring early signal to the outside world from the PML-N supremo. But the outside world will surely want to know about his plans to tackle the external and internal threat that militant groups operating on Pakistani soil still project. The US, India and Afghanistan have specific groups in mind who continue to be given space inside Pakistan, and increasingly in Punjab. Actions not words will be sought, and in the absence of action by the Pakistani state, tensions with the outside world could rise.Framing the issue as predominantly an external concern, however, would be disingenuous. The PML-N’s links to, tolerance for and encouragement of Islamist organisations with militant wings has set up a problem that is potentially explosive: could those groups, who have avoided turning their violent attention on the PML-N so far, now expect more space for themselves in Punjab and the country’s trouble spots? While simply turning the state’s guns on militant Islamists embedded in Pakistan proper is no real solution, neither has the PML-N put forward anything that approaches a rational or acceptable approach to incrementally tamping down the militancy threat. As a conservative, popular, Punjabi leader, Mr Sharif has the credentials to take up the fight against terrorism — but those same credentials can also act as an impediment to action. The country needs clarity from Mr Sharif on these issues soon. Courage under fire: Social worker killed THE war on progressive thought grinds on relentlessly in Pakistan. On Monday, Abdul Waheed, a social worker who ran a co-educational school in Karachi’s Islamia Colony and was active in polio campaigns and madressah education reform on a local level, was shot dead by unknown assailants outside his school. The attack also left his younger brother injured. While the motive of the killers is not yet known, Mr Waheed had repeatedly mentioned receiving threats to his life. It is pertinent to note that his school lies in a locality that is part of Manghopir, one of the areas in Karachi where the TTP wields influence. Many government schools here are reportedly closed because staff has stopped showing up for duty out of fear of violence. . Mr Waheed is the latest in a long line of social workers who have been targeted in Pakistan. Two months ago, Perween Rahman, director of the acclaimed Orangi Pilot Project that works on social uplift programmes in some of Karachi’s poorest neighborhoods, was shot dead. It is not yet clear whether the land mafia or militants are responsible for her murder. Mr Waheed, incidentally, was also working for the OPP. Since last December, attacks on polio immunisation teams have claimed over 20 lives in Karachi and KP. Earlier this year, six female teachers working for an NGO were gunned down in KP. Instances abound of kidnapping for ransom of aid workers. In Balochistan, after an aid worker was kidnapped and killed in April 2012 when the ransom demand was not met, several NGOs either wrapped up their work or severely curtailed it. According to a recent report, Pakistan is among the five most dangerous countries for aid workers. That is all the more reason to salute the courage of individuals like Mr Waheed, and to demand that the next government give priority to the security of those fighting for a progressive Pakistan against obscurantist forces who seek to take its people into the dark ages. Hasty response: MQM chief’s remarks THE art of politics hinges on the ability to choose the mot juste, and MQM chief Altaf Hussain’s recent statement on Karachi’s place within the federation was ill-considered in the extreme. Reacting to protesters’ allegations of poll rigging by his party, he had asked the leaders and the establishment to separate Karachi from Pakistan if they did not like the city’s mandate. His words may have been misinterpreted, as he clarified through a press release on Monday, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was inappropriate lexicon to use in a country that saw dismemberment in 1971 and still faces a separatist insurgency in Balochistan. Mr Hussain pushed all the wrong buttons; as the head of a political party that claims to have national aspirations, he ought to have known better.. Unfortunately, this was not all. In the same press release, he also said that anyone who had any grievance about the elections should seek legal remedy instead of coming out on the streets. Only a day earlier, he had issued what were taken as threats against a rally at Karachi’s main Teen Talwar intersection that was protesting against alleged poll rigging. Mr Hussain should keep in mind that taking to the streets in peaceful protest is a basic right of the citizenry. It is ironic that this must be repeated just after an election — one with a high turnout — has taken place. Now that this step towards continuing to strengthen the democratic process in the country has been taken, it behoves all quarters to play their part responsibly and with maturity. Reacting in haste and in anger will only result in playing into the hands of those that envision a regressive future for the country. Cutting down: Size of government THE elections are, more or less, over. The voters have done their bit and now the onus of providing good governance and bringing the country out of the economic morass largely lies on the shoulders of the PML-N, which will be the majority party in the National Assembly. The first task is the formation of an effective cabinet at the centre. The 18th Amendment limits the size of the federal cabinet in view of the transfer of various ministries and functions to the provinces, and the PML-N, which is poised to form a government at the centre, will be under immense pressure to accommodate a big number of ‘heavyweights’ who have returned to the Assembly on its ticket. The PML-N will also have to accommodate the coalition partners whom it is wooing from the smaller provinces in order to give a ‘federal’ colour to the government. This is not the only challenge. The party will need to cut down on the number of ministries by merging the ones that have overlapping or similar functions to curtail the spread of an unwieldy government and reduce unnecessary expenditure. A leaner government certainly is much more efficient and effective. . The heavy mandate the PML-N has secured in the landmark election means that the parties or individuals joining it will have little power to go against the Sharif government. Unlike the previous PPP government which, throughout its tenure, had the sword of Damocles hanging over its head, the PML-N is much better placed to implement reforms to improve governance. But the experience of the PML-N government in Punjab during the last five years shows that its leadership can be tempted into rewarding its favourites. While former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif kept the size of his cabinet very small, he had set up numerous task forces with their heads and members enjoying all the privileges a minister was entitled to. Such ‘roses’ by other names must not be allowed to bloom, the cabinet must be kept small and the delegation of power to the ministers ensured. As if this task were not challenging enough, the centre will also have to sort out pending issues with the provinces in light of the 18th Amendment. Centralisation of decision-making and circumvention of the Constitution cannot be allowed if the process of devolution is to be continued. It is a process the parties in the last parliament, the PML-N prominent among them, agreed to, and one that must be implemented if governance is to improve. Burying the hatchet: Nawaz’s timely gesture AFTER a campaign dominated by mudslinging, two of the victors of the May 11 vote seem to have decided to end the friction between them. On Tuesday, in a magnanimous gesture, Nawaz Sharif visited Imran Khan in hospital, gave him a bouquet and offered to “bury the hatchet” now that the elections were behind them. The man destined to be prime minister a third time said he had nothing personal against the PTI chief and that he wanted the two to have “a working relationship to steer the country” out of crisis. Even though we have no word directly from Mr Khan, a spokesperson for the party said that he had reciprocated the PML-N chief’s gesture. A cricket player himself, Mr Sharif offered “a friendly match” to the victor of the 1992 cricket World Cup after the latter recovered. Later, Mr Sharif told newsmen Mr Khan congratulated him on his electoral triumph, and the PML-N chief believed the PTI had the right to form government in KP. . In the aftermath of an election that has given the people a renewed confidence in the political process, all politicians have to realise the vital role they have to play in consolidating democracy. Because four military interventions have worked against the evolution of a refined democratic system, the country has been witness to an abysmally low political culture. Often, the opposition aims at nothing higher than bringing down the government irrespective of the consequences. This myopic attitude must change. Political differences should not be allowed to turn into personal enmity and taken to a level where the very survival of the system is threatened, as seen quite a few times during the last five years. Ignoring some genuine complaints of electoral fraud, all parties have by and large accepted the results. On Tuesday, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, whose PPP is the second largest party in the National Assembly, accepted the people’s mandate and pledged to work for democracy. Let’s hope the promises now being made are kept. Impressive performance: Post-election rally THE national political scenario emerging after Saturday’s general elections seems to have energised Karachi’s stock market. On Monday stocks crossed the 20,000 point mark for the first time and the rally continued on Tuesday as the KSE-100 index gained 229 points. While investors’ confidence in the post-election set-up is understandable, the KSE’s performance is still surprising considering the country’s generally morose economic situation. Two things are clear: investors are feeling positive because a stable PML-N government is likely to take the reins in Islamabad as opposed to earlier fears of a split mandate, while the business community has a soft spot for Nawaz Sharif, considering him a pro-market politician. There are also other factors responsible for the stock market’s impressive recent performance. Market watchers point out that most of the investment has been foreign; in the first four months of the current year over $200m of foreign funds have been pumped into the KSE while locals have mostly been selling. Also, while the rise indicates positive trends, it is a tad misleading as the weightage of certain stocks is relatively high. The amnesty granted by the government last year whereby no questions would be asked of investors about the source of funds till 2014 is also said to be responsible for attracting liquidity to the market, though some may have used the amnesty to launder money.. Regardless of the ups and downs of the stock market investors have positive expectations of a Nawaz Sharif government and it is hoped the PML-N will take tough, bold decisions to put the economy back on track. Foremost amongst the challenges the incoming political government must address are circular debt, the energy crisis and tax reform, while the market requires a stable law and order situation to do business. Grim realities: Poll concerns in Balochistan AWAY from the media spotlight, the troubles in Balochistan have continued to grow more complex with a disputed election result creating yet more uncertainty in the province. The PML-N, the Pakhtun-orientated PkMAP, the Balochnationalist NP and the conservative JUI-F appear set to form the provincial government, but cries of electoral malpractices continue to echo through much of the Baloch areas of the province. The BNP-M and its leader Akhtar Mengal have complained the loudest about a ‘stolen election’ — and embedded in their allegations is more than a kernel of truth. With a dismal turnout — in some areas, no votes were cast because security fears meant polling staff did not turn up for election day duties — and given the pre-election concerns and post-election complaints about an opaque counting process riven with problems, the elections in Balochistan cannot realistically be thought of as free or fair.. However — in the Balochistan context there is often a however — there are lessons here for the nationalist Baloch parties too. Yes, Mr Mengal and his BNP-M have contested elections in a hostile environment, but perhaps a case can also be made that the party has grown disconnected from its voters. The National Party, the other moderate nationalist Baloch party, fared comparatively better but the NP’s results too were not stellar. The great unknown before this election was whether the moderate Baloch parties’ claims of enjoying significant support in Balochistan were true or not. Because of the circumstances of the elections in the province, that question cannot be answered conclusively or with much confidence. But, there are enough clues to suggest that the nationalist parties may have failed to keep the people on their side, particularly in the case of the BNP-M whose on-ground organisation and network in the province has declined significantly in recent years — something the party will blame on the security situation. But could the low turnout also be because the nationalists, whether out of fear or marginal sympathy, have not challenged the separatist rhetoric and propaganda, meaning that much public space has been ceded to the insurgents?Grim as the situation in Balochistan is, the focus after an election should be on how to use freshly acquired political capital to improve the province’s security plight. With a strong PML-N government in the centre also in the coalition in Balochistan and with nationalist input in the provincial government, a way forward can be cobbled together. Legitimate electoral complaints aside, Balochistan’s politicians should also focus on the opportunity before them. Decisive action needed: Possible Kurram operation ALL indications are that the security forces plan to conduct a fresh operation in Kurram Agency. Around 29 villages in the agency’s Parachamkani area have been declared part of a conflict zone while army deployment has begun. Civilians have also been told to leave. Kurram has seen the military and extremist insurgents clash in the past. This time a number of factors are believed to be responsible for the army’s decision to move in. Reportedly, militants from the neighbouring agencies of Orakzai and Khyber have infiltrated the area while last week insurgents attacked a military checkpost. Meanwhile, over 20 people were killed when JUI-F candidate Muneer Orakzai’s election rally was bombed in the area, also last week.. The region in question features challenging mountainous terrain, which not only makes conducting an operation difficult but also provides militants with hideouts where they can lie low. Kurram is also a strategically sensitive location as it borders Afghanistan while sectarian tensions between the agency’s Shia and Sunni tribes have also been exacerbated by the presence of the Pakistani Taliban. Yet decisive action is needed in Kurram as well as in other troubled regions of the tribal belt so that militants cannot regroup. While security forces claimed to have cleared most of Kurram in the past, pockets of militant-infested areas have remained. The military needs to concentrate on totally clearing the area and making sure fighters are unable to sneak away into other agencies or take advantage of the terrain. Otherwise, all the efforts that go into such operations are wasted if militants can recover and resume their war on the state. The cat-and-mouse game between the army and the insurgents must end so that the militant threat is effectively neutralised. Efforts need to be coordinated so that fleeing militants do not find refuge in safe havens in neighbouring agencies. Apart from the operational aspect, it is essential that the authorities ensure that civilians fleeing the hostilities have proper access to food and shelter. Polls most fowl: Rise and fall of chicken prices DEMOCRACY or not, leg-pulling must always continue, in its various forms — sometimes serious, sometimes, given the usual scene at the dining table, only marginally less so. Every big event must have a bearing on the poultry recitals here. For the masses, hardly conversant with stock market rates and the slip of the rupee — unless the fall can be traced to their own pocket — the price of chicken is a popular means of understanding everyday economics. The price sign put up by the chicken meat seller is a sign of the times we live in. If the price increases, it is an attempt to deprive the people of an essential they are clinging to so desperately.. The spiralling of chicken meat prices in the run-up to the vote on May 11 was proof of the contestants’ resourcefulness. That the candidates were looking to feed their supporters ‘well enough’ betrayed a real contest, unlike some of the one-sided bulk-buying of poultry in the past. It was a good match this time; based on the party statistics of his buyers, a chicken seller had sufficient electoral information, long before the channels debated whether the margin was narrow or wide and before it was decided who lost the chicken karahi bet in office. Post-poll, the butcher was all too happy to sell to the winners in pursuance of a grand cause: stability of his business. To his routine buyers, it is a matter of great satisfaction that the price-conspiracy hatchers have been tackled and some stability restored to the chicken rates after the election surge. This is something to consider for the rulers. The chances of their success hinge critically on the supply of the poor man’s meat at prices not too high. Moment of truth: ANP’s electoral rout ANP CHIEF Asfandyar Wali Khan has offered a mature, forthright analysis into his party’s failure to perform on May 11, highlighting the party’s own weaknesses as well as the bloody campaign the TTP conducted against the ANP. Addressing a news conference on Thursday, the ANP leader showed grace in defeat, saying that his party accepted the poll results, though with reservations, and would sit in the opposition. The party has been reduced to one seat in the National Assembly, while it has gone from ruling KP to four seats in the provincial legislature.. There is much weight in Asfandyar Wali’s claim that TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud set the election agenda as far as disallowing the ANP to freely campaign is concerned. The party has paid with blood for its opposition to the militants. While other parties the Pakistani Taliban deem ‘secular’ were also targeted, clearly the ANP’s cadre bore the brunt. According to Asfandyar Wali, 61 party activists were killed between March 30 and May 11. Nevertheless, poor governance over the past five years was a major factor in the drubbing the party received at the ballot box. For the voters, corruption and the ANP government’s failure to maintain law and order in a province on the frontline of the battle against militancy overshadowed the party’s sacrifices. Which is why the ANP has done right by forming committees to look into the reasons behind the party’s electoral rout. There are lessons here for other parties who were also sent packing; they too must identify their flaws and take action where needed as the ANP plans to do, for instance, by expelling any member found to have prevented women from voting. The party’s internal issues aside, the ANP chief’s comments on the larger picture of militancy must be considered by all parties. Asfandyar Wali focused on drone strikes, saying that while his party condemned them, he considered suicide attacks a worse violation of national sovereignty. While drone strikes invoke strong emotions and the ‘collateral damage’ caused by the strikes cannot be ignored, even the fiercest critics of these unmanned killers remain quiet on suicide attacks and the many innocents religious militants kill. There is no realisation by these parties that their silence will save neither them nor democracy should the militants expand their list of ‘undesirable’ political targets. The bloodshed witnessed over the past five years should propel the incoming rulers towards taking decisive steps to tackle militancy, even as they concentrate on other aspects of good governance. Inglorious certainties: IPL spot-fixing AFTER all these years it has turned out to be actually a bowler’s game. Fresh evidence from the Indian Premier League corroborates it was easier to entrust a bowler with a bookie’s brief than expect a batter to deliver to a betting ring’s diktats. But of course the IPL has not invented the cheats. It is a glamorous platform that offers an easy-access casino to gamblers. Apparently, it was thought that with so many games generating so much excitement, the good will camouflage the bad and ugly before a cricket-crazy audience. It may have remained that way but for a few intelligence officers who kept an eye on small details such as who was bowling with a small towel pinned to his trouser and when. The biggest disappointment in the case, Rajasthan Royals’ Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, is a restless soul and surely someone who can never be confidently expected to go under 14 an over. Police say they were able to spot a scheme in his jittery gestures — ominous signs which could lead to the unearthing of more instances of cheating. . The classical argument would place loyalty as a virtue that must always prevail over monetary gains, by legal means and from illegal channels. That idea of faithfulness cannot be synchronised with modern-day concepts of clubs made up of professionals bought at auctions. There will always be cheats, those not sure of their place in the side for too long maybe more inclined to a bit of quick-fixing of their own. The fixing does not just jeopardise the game; what could be of bigger concern to the business-minded is that it endangers an industry. It appears near impossible to uproot the betting mafia, from wherever it operates, at one go, although an effort targeted at the bookies must be seen to be under way for the morale of cricket fans. For the moment, the realistic way forward is to establish the guilt and make examples out of the guilty. Bizarre numbers: Elections in Balochistan IN a densely populated country where citizens are counted in tens of millions, the figures coming out of the polls in Balochistan are bizarre. The most remarkable is PB-41, Awaran, where voter turnout was a mere 1.18 per cent and the candidate that won had to take just 544 votes, with the runner-up coming in at 95. Only 672 of the 57,666 people registered to vote in the constituency actually did so. Similarly, in PB-50, Kech, the seat was won with just 1,385 votes, with 1,331 going to the politician who came in second. The other seven candidates collectively polled the ludicrous figure of 994 votes. Even where the figures are higher, the turnout in Balochistan is remarkably below the national average. This is true even if the demographics and the security situation are factored in. The turnout in PB-46, Kharan, for example, was relatively high but still, of the 45,176 registered voters, only 14,611 cast votes and the seat was won with just 3,418 votes. . It had been expected that the turnout in Balochistan would be low but these figures are shocking. Polling was disrupted or could not take place at all at a number of polling stations because of lack of staff and/or balloting material. Also, militants had announced that they would impede the election process; the moderate nationalist parties that contested did so in face of the militants’ ire. What the ECP must do now is to investigate the numbers and ascertain how many polling stations were dysfunctional, and why. If more than 50 per cent of the polling stations are found to have been off-line, perhaps a re-poll should be considered with security beefed up more than previously, since that is far from a level playing field. Columns and Articles
The morning after By Faisal Bari THE votes have been cast and are now being counted. Whoever wins, we hope they are good for democracy, peace, the rule of law, growth and development: we hope they are good for Pakistan and Pakistanis. . This election had a number of features that should be borne in mind going forward and will need further analysis and understanding. The election campaign was very violent. It was not the political opponents who were going after each other, it was the anti-democratic forces of the Taliban that made it very hard for some parties, the Awami National Party (ANP), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the PPP, to run their campaigns on the same scale as others. Though the reasons were different and related more to nationalism, it was equally hard to campaign in Balochistan. Will and should there be questions about the legitimacy and acceptability of election results under these circumstances? Will what has happened in the campaign give impetus to all politicians to come together to address the menace posed by the Taliban? Will the winners take the lead in this? Or will the various parties remain as divided as ever on how to deal with the threat they have been witnessing? If they do remain as divided, the next five years and the next election will be even harder.In Punjab, many ‘politicians’ before an election try to gauge which way the establishment is leaning and which party has a greater chance of winning. Then they try to get a ticket from that party. Party loyalty means little. Since parties also need ‘electables’, switching sides is encouraged. The idea is that one is able to get more done for oneself and for one’s supporters, if one is in power. And a lot of the time it is clear, before elections, which party has greater chances. But this time, especially for Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it was harder to predict the outcome between the PML-N and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). Hence the higher demand for party tickets from them. But interestingly a number of influential local politicians chose to contest elections as independent candidates. They have been promising supporters that if they win they will support the winning party and get benefits for their constituents that way. Given that many people are predicting a ‘split’ mandate with none of the parties winning a majority, these independents could wield a lot of power — heaven for those who contested as independents with the specific purpose of getting a price for their support post-victory. But how will this impact the politics of ideology, loyalty and political commitment remains to be seen.The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has strict and fairly stringent limits on how much a candidate can spend in an election. The idea of the limits is to reduce the role of money in politics and to make the playing field more even for candidates with different wealth and income levels and with varying abilities to elicit financial support. The limits were and are flouted, often quite flagrantly, but nonetheless there are limits and legal recourse is always available for aggrieved parties. But this time it was the parties that went for massive advertising and not just individual candidates. The use of new and old media, and even mobile phones (I received three calls with recorded messages from Imran Khan twice and one from the PTI candidate from the constituency where I live), for communication with constituents was unprecedented. The PTI took the lead and was more savvy but other parties learnt and caught up fairly quickly. Even parties that could not campaign in the normal manner because of security issues could use these means of reaching out to their supporters. How will this change the politics of the country? Will future campaigns be even more virtual? And are advertisements a substitute for direct contacts between potential representatives and their constituents?The ECP, judiciary as well as the next parliament will have to look at the advertising issue. If the objective was a level playing field, how can unlimited expenditure on advertising, even by parties, be allowed? Will smaller parties and/or more regional parties as well as independent candidates not be at a disadvantage? Appropriate legislation on campaign finance will be needed before the next election.The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) has been giving Rs1,000 a month to millions of women across Pakistan. Opponents have accused the PPP of using BISP to win votes. But, in a way, almost any welfare programme, with specific beneficiaries, will have this issue. The same complaints have been aired against the laptop scheme of the PML-N. It will be worth seeing if there is an appreciable change in patterns of female vote if these are studied, especially in areas that have large numbers of BISP-supported households. If there is, what sort of a lesson will it be for incoming governments? Judging by the campaigning, it seemed that political parties are becoming more regionalised. The PML-N and PTI focused on campaigning in Punjab and KP; the PPP was more present in Sindh and the southern districts of Punjab; the MQM focused on Karachi and Sindh, and the ANP on Karachi and KP. If election results confirm this pattern, what will be the lessons for the politics of the federation? Have we become so fragmented that no political party can credibly appeal to voters from across the country?Whoever is announced the winner, all incoming representatives and legislators will have their work cut out for them: Pakistan faces very serious challenges and on numerous fronts. One hopes they are up to the challenge and the people are not disappointed, again, with the choices they have made. The writer is senior adviser, Pakistan at Open Society Foundations, associate professor of economics, LUMS, and a visiting fellow at IDEAS, Lahore.firstname.lastname@example.org The good news about dirty politics By Shandana Khan Mohmand AN unusual thing happened in one of Sargodha’s five constituencies in the lead up to this election. The PML-N issued a ticket for a provincial seat to a Sharif relative, a usual enough occurrence. . But in this case the ticket went to someone who was not locally popular. Munir Qureshi was elected from this constituency in 2002 and was the runner-up in 2008. Yet, he appears to have no real performance record. According to most people I spoke to, he has a ‘jaagirdarana zehniyat’ (feudal mentality) and has not delivered in return for votes. To top it off, he lives and works in Lahore, and is considered an outsider. Opposing him was a local man, a member of one of the area’s largest biraderis. Bahadur Abbas Mekan ran for the first time in 2008, as an independent candidate, and despite receiving only 2,800 votes in that election, he built a reputation over the last five years as a “worker”. He is seen as easily accessible and well connected. His family has been part of the local government system and two brothers are high-ranking bureaucrats, and he has used his contacts in the state to deliver. This had evidently swung support strongly in his favour within the constituency. Encouraged by this, he approached the PML-N for a ticket, only to be refused in favour of the relative, despite the fact that Qureshi had contested the previous two elections on a PML-Q ticket. Mekan decided to go ahead anyway and contested again as an independent. He began a campaign that brought together various biraderis in the district in an alliance that soon made him a stronger contender than the ex-MPA. Ten days before the election Hamza Sharif stopped by the constituency for an election rally. According to my local sources, PML-N’s youth wing apparently reported to Hamza that they were bound to lose this seat because of the party’s decision to go with their relative. Hamza’s rally was also boycotted by the large Mekan biraderi. A few days later the party issued a statement “opening” the seat. This meant that the party was no longer backing its own candidate, nor opposing Mekan (who, rumour had it, was invited to join the PML-N in case of a win). Local will, it seemed, had prevailed over what we popularly call the ‘jaagirdarana nizam’. Different biraderis of the constituency had come together against a veteran, landed politician who had, by many accounts, provided little and remained inaccessible to his voters. Instead, a man with far less experience but said to have the will to deliver was, judging by the sizable resistance he managed to mount to the old guard, set to win. Beyond this, however, something more has changed. Mekan was only one of many new candidates on almost all provincial seats in this district.In the three provincial constituencies where I spent some time in the run-up to the election, the average number of candidates in 2002 was 5.3, in 2008 it was 4.6, and this time it was a whopping 15.6. Many of these candidates had never run before, or if they have, it was as nazims in the now defunct local government system. The explosion of candidates for MPA seats has heralded a number of visible changes. While the competition for MNA seats was still being managed by local bigwigs, that for MPA seats was far more open this time around. People appeared to be choosing and aligning more freely. Almost everywhere we found that while an entire village was voting for a single candidate for the MNA seat, or at the most two candidates, at the provincial level the village was divided into multiple small groups that were aligned to different candidates. More importantly, these groups usually had direct contact with these candidates, who were all out and about the countryside, conducting small meetings in every village. Door-to-door campaigns are still rare, but such face-to-face contact between rural voters and candidates was also a rarity until the 2008 elections. Direct contact between voters and candidates has even greater significance in the post-18th Amendment environment, in which almost all ministries related to the delivery of public services have been devolved to the provinces. This means that voters are connecting directly not only with their representatives, but also with those who will have a direct say in the delivery of most rural services. The increased competitiveness on these seats means greater choice for the voter, and consequently, a greater ability to hold candidates directly accountable for their delivery records. It also means a larger space for new politicians. If this trend crystallises, it could mean the injection of many new politicians within existing parties, as exemplified by the story above. Initially, this will probably include people with connections in the state, and large biraderis to draw upon. Slowly, however, it may start to draw in non-dynastic, unconnected first-timers. If the new government now brings back the system of local government — the usual route for the emergence of newer, less wealthy candidates — we may see the emergence of a dynamic, vibrant political scene that could work to marginalise the landed elite from politics without the need for structural reforms. Jason Burke quoted a landlord politician in the Guardian (May 5) as saying, “Politics has become such a dirty game. It’s getting so hard”. The man seems to be referring to exactly this trend. That, for the rest of us, is very good news. The writer is a Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. Foreign policy challenges By Munir Akram THE new government emerging from yesterday’s elections will face difficult domestic problems. . The external challenges it will confront are equally daunting. The most urgent foreign policy challenges could be summed up in three words: Afghanistan, America, India.After a decade of inconclusive war, Afghanistan is in the midst of another troubled transition. Compelled by unachieved objectives, enormous costs and domestic opposition, the US and its more despondent Nato allies are in the process of withdrawing their military forces from Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the US hopes to retain a ‘friendly’ government in Kabul, a large US-financed and US-trained Afghan army and a US Special Forces contingent to support the Afghans and conduct counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and along the Pak-Afghan border.Pakistan’s foremost objective is to neutralise the terrorist campaign being waged against the state by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The path of negotiations with the TTP, proposed by some of the potential new leaders, is unlikely to succeed. The TTP’s political objective — a theological polity within and beyond Pakistan — is beyond the scope of the negotiable. Elements of the TTP are foreigners or foreign-sponsored; the revived tensions with Kabul imply that the TTP will continue to have ‘safe havens’ in Afghanistan; and a compromise cannot be forged without the military option on the table — front and centre. The best way to deal with the TTP is to target the most recalcitrant leaders; break the group’s loose unity and negotiate only with those prepared to accept Pakistan’s Constitution and its territorial integrity.A second priority for the new government is to halt the US drone attacks on Pakistan’s territory. It will be difficult to convince the US to halt such strikes, if it is true that it got some Pakistani nods and winks.The US will be even less disposed to accommodate the new government if it is seen as being ‘soft’ on terrorism and the Taliban. Shooting down drones will provoke a conflict with the US that can only end badly for Pakistan.Halting the drone attacks can be achieved through well-considered diplomacy. If Pakistan means business, it should register a legal case opposing the use of drones against Pakistani territory and citizens without its permission. This can be done in the Security Council, the Human Rights Council and the International Court of Justice. Pakistan could also make its agreement to ‘deliver’ the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table conditional on a US commitment to halt the drone strikes.The new government’s third and larger objective in Afghanistan, no doubt, will be to ensure that the political and security structures the US leaves behind are not hostile to Pakistan’s interests. Islamabad has a vested interest in promoting a negotiated peace in Afghanistan and using its influence to bring Mullah Omar, the Haqqanis and Hekmatyar to accept an equitable power-sharing agreement. But some forces, evidently including Hamid Karzai, seem to be working against such an agreement. Kabul’s recently escalated rhetoric and the resulting border clashes are ominous signs. Cross-border conflicts could persist. Pakistan’s new government will need to play an active role to build peace through resort to leverage and compromise with power players within and around Afghanistan.America’s post-Afghan strategy could also embroil Pakistan in the confrontation with Iran on the nuclear issue. An open conflict between Iran and the Western powers would severely threaten Pakistan’s stability and security. At the very least, Pakistan will need to keep out of the confrontation on this issue. At best, an active new government could play a positive role to promote a compromise between Iran and the ‘international community’.Pakistan’s competitive and unpredictable relationship with India could confront the new government with a repeat of past challenges. At present, Kashmir’s resistance to Indian rule is relatively dormant but still real. A particularly egregious act of Indian oppression could spark a major political eruption in Kashmir and reignite the armed struggle.A new Pakistan government, composed of ‘nationalist’ parties, will be obliged to express its support for the Kashmiris, verbally and perhaps materially, inevitably sparking a crisis with India.Conversely, given the deep-rooted grievances of the Kashmiris and other Muslim and minority groups in India, a major act of terrorism there seems almost inevitable, sooner or later. Although New Delhi will know that Pakistan’s authorities are not involved, it is likely, as usual, to blame Islamabad, leading to another crisis in Pakistan-India relations.To avoid such periodic but foreseeable problems, it would be wise for the Pakistan government to propose some ‘rules of the road’ on how the two governments should respond to such events in order to avoid unintended confrontation or conflict.Another latent but potentially lethal danger arises from the absence for the past several years of an arms control and security dialogue between Pakistan and India. Today, India is the largest purchaser of advanced weaponry, most of which — fighters, missiles, anti-ballistic missiles, aircraft carrier — are planned to be deployed against Pakistan. India’s nuclear weapons programme is also capable of open-ended expansion following its US-sponsored admission to the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group. Pakistan will be obliged to acquire or develop capabilities to neutralise the threat from the growing Indian arsenal.It should be particularly disconcerting that this unequal arms race is taking place without mutual understanding of the adversary’s military or nuclear doctrines.Given the danger of potential confrontations over Kashmir, terrorism and other outstanding issues, it in the vital interest of Pakistan and India to regulate and moderate their military competition. The new government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the strategic danger in the subcontinent.Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry has an imposing responsibility to propose sound policies to respond to these challenges. It must rise to the occasion. The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN. About to turn the corner? By Abbas Nasir THE mandate couldn’t have been clearer. That doesn’t mean it is any less daunting than an ambiguous one would have been. . Nawaz Sharif’s tenacity is remarkable. As he stood on that balcony of the PML-N headquarters, making his victory speech in the small hours of Sunday, images of the troubled face of the deposed prime minister outside that Karachi anti-terrorism court in 1999 must have flashed before many eyes.He’ll quickly need to analyse the countrywide election result and what it means for him and more importantly for the country that, during his campaign, he repeatedly pledged to rebuild, to pull out of the morass.So what does the verdict tell us? First and foremost that the PML-N may have earned the unambiguous right to rule the country and Punjab but that the party will have to accommodate those whose ambitions it crushed as it captured the biggest crown.This is the nature of the verdict. The PML-N leader often complained that following the 2008 elections, the PPP reneged on the Charter of Democracy the two parties had signed in London in 2006. Now it has the opportunity to implement it unilaterally — if only as a tribute to Benazir Bhutto, whose insistence made Sharif contest the last elections, enabling his party to lead the Punjab government. For the PML-N’s brand of politics, this was the only launch-pad for the sort of win the party has seen in the province this time.The triumphant party will need to coexist with the PPP-led Sindh government. If it has to have any hope of reviving the struggling economy, a live-and-let-live policy is the only way forward as further acrimony can only deliver lethal shocks to the system and set adrift the federating units.Equally, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf should be asked to put together a government in KP as it has emerged as the largest single party there. Any attempt to put a Rest of the World XI can only erode the democrat’s image built up patiently by Nawaz Sharif over the past five years. Most of all, all eyes will be on Nawaz Sharif to assess if he is really the mature statesman his supporters claim he has become during his days in the political wilderness and no longer the man who once aspired to become the Islamic republic’s all-powerful amirul momineen.We all know the major challenges: terrorism, lawlessness, economy, power cuts. But there are more nuanced threats too. He has close friends in the Gulf but that shouldn’t prevent him from assessing if tyranny of a particular ideology is best suited to Pakistani culture. Culture does evolve but this isn’t an issue of culture alone. Many believe this ideology is actually inimical to the country’s existence as it threatens to tear it apart. Many proxy battles have been fought on this soil. It is time to end all that.This has to be done in concert with the country’s military and who better than a leader with near-unanimous backing from Punjab to do it. His last falling out with the military must inform the manner in which he engages GHQ, but engage he must.Regional peace and stability are a prerequisite for Pakistan to prosper. The prime minister-to-be, being a business-industrial tycoon, must know this better than anyone else. The earlier on in his tenure the tone is set the better.His recent interviews such as the one given to Dawn’s Cyril Almeida, showed he has not only thought about these issues more than other leaders but has also a firm idea on how to proceed. This can only be good. However, he will be tested early because matters such as government formation in strife-torn Balochistan are heading straight at him and their resolution will almost set the theme for how he plans to proceed. The delay in results such as those for nationalist Akhtar Mengal’s Balochistan National Party (BNP-M) is causing anxiety as we speak.The extent of Sharif’s win may have surprised the city-centric media and its often partisan pundits but there can be no doubt it owed itself considerably to how the party’s governance was perceived by the electorate. Traditional patronage may have informed its politics but corruption was not rampant.By contrast, the PPP can only have itself to blame. Poor governance, widespread allegations of corruption and then an arrogant resort to slogans based on ideology and sacrifices when both were things of the past. Whose fault is it other than Asif Zardari’s that there was no national campaign leader?This isn’t to say the party is dead and buried. But it well may be without serious soul-searching, rediscovering its ideological moorings and a conscious attempt to reconnect with the jiyala support base. Its choice of Sindh chief minister and how it governs will indicate whether it can rise phoenix-like.The media may have over-egged the PTI pudding but Imran Khan’s energetic campaign and appeal to a totally new set of voters — a colleague called them the non-voters — can only be seen as one remarkable aspect of these elections, almost a game changer. What Bhutto did for the dispossessed, he did for the educated urban middle class and the elite; he galvanised them into a vote bank.He has the chance to lead a ‘model’ government in a province and, depending on its performance, stake a claim to bigger things in the next elections. If he falls a little short of an outright majority and leads a coalition as a senior partner, it’ll be useful political training if a bit humbling.The challenges are multifold without doubt. But who knows if Pakistan is ready to turn the corner. The writer is a former editor of Dawn.email@example.com Evaluating poll credibility By Niaz Murtaza CREDIBLE elections are the gateway to democratic governance. Election credibility depends upon the quality of their legal framework, management structures and implementation processes. Given limited space, I will just focus on some critical issues under these three areas for the landmark 2013 elections.. The legal framework includes constitutional provisions and parliamentary acts specifying the elected institutions and offices; voting system; party, candidate and voter qualifications; and election body appointment and powers. There was no controversy during these elections about the credibility of Pakistan’s federal, bicameral institutional design (except among Baloch insurgents) and little about the parliamentary system. However, Pakistan’s ‘winner-takes-all’ voting system attracted some criticism. Such systems usually discourage smaller parties. But smaller parties thrive easily in Pakistan and larger parties actually struggle to attain majority. Thus, proportional representation, the main alternative, will further fragment Pakistani polity and increase political paralysis. A more valid concern is that winner-takes-all systems allow candidates to win without attaining 50pc votes, a possibility enhanced by party proliferation. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had earlier proposed a ballot blank box option and re-elections in constituencies without outright winners. Introducing this system without parliamentary approval was odd process-wise. More oddly, the blank box option actually makes outright wins more difficult while the re-election requirement can create an impasse if say 70-80 constituencies fail to elect outright winners and re-elections consume six to eight weeks. Could parliament meet, meanwhile, with so many seats undecided? Luckily, this plan was abandoned. Instead of having blank boxes and re-elections to identify people’s second preferences, it is better to require voters to also identify second-preference candidates during initial elections. These second preferences can immediately be counted for the top two vote-getters if no candidate wins outright, thus avoiding costly re-elections and long-drawn uncertainty. Voter and candidate qualification requirements remain partly problematic. The degree requirement for candidates was fortunately eliminated earlier. The goal of having well-educated representatives can be attained better by offering crash courses to less-educated winners than by making so many Pakistanis ineligible.However, the multiple, mutually contradictory, constitutional clauses regarding disqualification of wrongdoers created confusion. The most sensible of these clauses is 63(1-h), which mandates three clear disqualification principles: court conviction, serious crime (two years-plus imprisonment) and time-bound disqualification. Other clauses eg about Pakistani ideology and righteousness, are vague and create unrealistic expectations of disqualifications based on mere accusations.Furthermore, barring minorities from becoming president and prime minister violates constitutional provisions about equality of all citizens. Finally, barring dual citizens is controversial as there is no evidence that past dual-citizen parliamentarians proved less loyal than other parliamentarians. Important post-2008 improvements in the legal framework significantly enhanced the independence of the election management structure, ie courts, caretakers and the ECP. This enhanced election credibility encouraged the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Baloch nationalists to participate, unlike 2008. However, this independence merely provided these institutions the potential to ensure credible elections. One must also analyse how they used this independence in the implementation processes, including constituency delimitation; voter registration and education; candidate nomination; campaign management; balloting and results tabulation; and post-election dispute management.Here, the performance is mixed, with some good initiatives mixed with frequent inter-institutional conflicts, weak decision-making and administrative inefficiencies. The lack of a recent census constrained constituency delimitation. Problems were accentuated by the failure of the Supreme Court and the ECP to develop early consensus on interim measures. Census data non-availability also hampered voter registration and it’s unclear to what extent the ECP’s recent registration exercise increased registration accuracy. Endless disagreements on expatriate voting also enhanced registration problems, even though the Supreme Court’s early and reasonable directives were easily implementable before elections. The ECP issued a laudable directive to encourage female voting but it should have followed-up with voter education in backward areas. Finally, the needless requirement to mention religion in voter registration forms even under joint electorates forced Ahmadis into a boycott.The candidate disqualification process became controversial due to unclear constitutional provisions. However, recognising these constitutional anomalies, the ECP should have proactively issued clear directives to returning officers to reduce confusion. The ECP was constrained in barring candidates even with widely alleged wrongdoings by the lack of convictions in complicated corruption cases. But, it could have requested the judiciary, the Federal Board of Revenue and utility companies to establish transparent speedy tribunals to decide simpler default cases. Currently, the rejection process seemed haphazard and inconsistent.The ECP issued codes of conduct for candidates and journalists for managing the election campaign though their enforcement seems inconsistent. However, the biggest campaign management failure is the inability to provide security to parties, especially those targeted by militants. It is difficult to assess the degree to which this would have skewed results given that the PPP and the Awami National Party, being unpopular incumbents, were already underdogs and the PPP furthermore faces a leadership vacuum. Even so, even slight skewing, the large-scale deaths and the ensuing uncertainty are inexcusable given the early warnings issued by militants. Without going into the results, the main problems in these stages ie vote stuffing, chaotic balloting and counting, and widespread rejection of results, did not appear to be predominate. The biggest fear has been the escalation of violence.In summary, the conduct of the 2013 elections receives mixed grades. The positive is the increased independence of election bodies. The weaknesses are their failure to effectively utilise this independence and legal anomalies. Nevertheless, although repolling has been ordered in some constituencies, these elections may still qualify as among Pakistan’s more credible elections since many earlier ones were blatantly rigged. Election bodies’ independence, often the most elusive requirement, provides strong potential for resolving the remaining issues for future elections. The writer is a political economist at the University of California, Berkeley.firstname.lastname@example.org Security for the people By M. Zaidi ONCE in power, these are some of the immediate counterterrorism and extremism priorities the new prime minister can consider. . As a first step, the National Counterterrorism Authority should be allowed to play the role it was originally intended for as a civilian-run body, and be made the central repository of all information on terrorists, their organisations, acts of terror, etc.Mechanisms should be devised for sharing this information with the provinces. Despite the elusive nature of terrorist groups operating in Pakistan, certain patterns are discernible. Similarly, those elements which enable terrorist organisations to operate in a certain environment can also be mapped. A Pakistan-specific threat assessment mechanism is needed to create frameworks for devising informed policy responses. These frameworks should attempt to map the terrorist landscape and patterns of behaviour, and contextualise them so that the vulnerabilities of terrorist groups are identified and an adequate policy response can be generated. This should also be linked to creating and effectively using a system that prioritises certain levels of threats. The framework would also have to have the capacity to adapt according to the changing threat assessment.Such assessments are vital to developing a national counterterrorism strategy. However, in our case this will not be possible in the short term. Radicalisation and terrorism have a cause-and-effect relationship; increased radicalisation seriously affects counterterrorism efforts. Currently, radicalisation is the major challenge that needs to be addressed.The next government would need to focus on a national counter-radicalisation strategy, though this would also follow from an initial, well-thought-out threat assessment landscape. There is always some confusion among Pakistanis whether they want to follow common or religious law, and this confusion is providing loopholes for extremists to slip through. Although legal frameworks such as robust counterterrorism laws are needed, ideological sanction is also important. While fatwas have earlier been given by the Council of Islamic Ideology, the role of the latter needs to be reinvigorated as the official religious stakeholder of the government.Other ministries, even the devolved ones and the moribund religious affairs’ ministry, too can be galvanised. Once an Islamic counter-narrative against terrorism is evolved, this should be taken up as part of a strategic campaign to communicate the narrative.The consensus resolution passed by parliament in 2008 set up a Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS). However, the agendas — especially those of strengthening national security through dialogue — were never implemented and the committee never really proved effective. A sister parliamentary committee should be set up to reinvigorate this process.Further, the cabinet should be tasked with having in-camera briefings pertaining to recommendations from the committee on issues of national security at least once a month. The new PCNS can then start tackling the really thorny issues such as engaging with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Pakistan-US relations in the ‘war against terrorism’, drone strikes and national security strategy, etc.Rural districts in southern Punjab seem to have become sanctuaries and training areas for banned terrorist groups, some escaping Fata in the wake of military operations there.Grinding poverty, corruption, extremist religious seminaries and socio-economic inequities have been a recipe for disaster, with the populace living well below the poverty line in southern and western Punjab.Moreover, the borders of south Punjab share certain topographical features with the tribal areas which make the permeation of militants easy even if — and this is debatable — entry points from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Punjab can be manned effectively.Any step which does not generate agreement on this most sensitive of political issues can lead to a hue and cry, negating any effort to reach workable solutions. An incremental solution is preferable, with a parliamentary committee formed to try to reach some agreement on south Punjab issues. This has to be representative of the government and the opposition.Since legislation in the form of the Fair Trial Act 2012, and the new amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 now exist; all that is needed is the enabling of provincial counterterrorism departments and law enforcement agencies to start functioning with the cooperation of the interior ministry.There is a forensic lab in Balochistan, but it is antiquated and non-functional, and the police must send samples to Karachi — which takes time. Anti-terrorist cases are rejected in the meanwhile.A local and independent forensic laboratory has to be made functional in Balochistan for effectively processing terrorist cases. This does not really need to be as state of the art as the Punjab forensic science laboratory, but should still be able to handle most cases. Similar entities in Karachi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have to be reinvigorated or built from scratch.These measures are by no means exhaustive, but a start has to be made now at all costs, pending which no amount of political slogans will result in security for us common Pakistanis. The writer is a security analyst. Fixing the economy By Shahid Kardar AS a nation we seem to believe that there is either a magic wand that will make our problems disappear or that undertaking reforms is like fixing an electricity fuse or a leaking tap at home — call an electrician or a plumber to fix the fault. . Moreover, reform is viewed more as a change of rules and procedures that individuals who either established, or had grown up in, the control-oriented and rent-extracting environment can be asked to implement. This is our approach to reforms — energy sector reforms, education and health reforms, financial sector and capital market reforms — isolated and stand-alone. Unfortunately, the economy is more like a machine than a house. All things within it are interconnected. To be able to fix a leak in one place we have to understand the economy as a whole. To an extent donors are also to blame. Since they are strapped for resources they have a natural inclination to exaggerate the outcome of their proposed policy interventions. Such expectations have resulted in inadequate and poorly sustained support for reforms, leading to aborted programmes although these are essentially on the right track. The transmission mechanism through which policies lead to expected outcomes is not that straightforward. There are several steps in the process that are subject to uncertainty and delay. So, often it may be necessary to adopt supplementary policies. Without them the final outcomes may fall short of expectations. This can be illustrated by looking at the mega issue of electricity or power. The common narrative is that by fixing it (as if it can be done in isolation) we can get the wheels of the economy moving. On the face of it, a one-time effort, even if it involves the ‘printing of Rs400 billion’, would improve the availability of power. However, without some decisions of a fundamental nature that would go beyond the realm of the electricity sector this money will only get us mileage for another two or three quarters, after which the problem of circular debt would rear its ugly head again. It would not be a sustainable strategy without a whole range of far-reaching policy adjustments, demanding that tough political choices be made and provoking strong reactions from powerful vocal lobbies — easier said than done. Before I explain the broader links it is important to note that contrary to the popular myth being peddled by many a political leader that this issue can be resolved in a matter of months, we will continue to experience loadshedding for the next two decades, although the number of hours can be reduced by effecting a variety of policy changes.To begin with, we have the issues of:a) under-priced energy — the cost of provision (ensuring no theft is simply impossible given the strength of the labour unions colluding with the officer cadre) being higher than the tariff being charged to consumers; b) the distorted tariff structure which is higher for ‘bulk consumers’/industry than for domestic consumers; c) consumers of electricity paying their bills regularly in Punjab being punished through higher rates, to pay for free electricity being provided to residents of Fata, Wapda employees, rich farmers in Balochistan, etc. and the higher level of theft in Sindh, KP and Balochistan. How will these be addressed as they will require a different institutional structure eg DISCOs, or electricity distribution companies, being transferred to the provinces with electricity being provided at provincial boundaries at a uniform price for tariff determination by them? Or should they be privatised? This in turn will require legislative changes regarding the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority’s future role and empowering provinces to set their own tariffs for each DISCO. As all this will have to be routed through the Council of Common Interests will Sindh, KP and Balochistan accept an arrangement immediately requiring a sharp revision in rates that would be applicable for higher levels of leakages?Bringing down the price of electricity will require massive investments in hydel power and development of coal (even if we factor in the decline in world energy prices over the next decade thanks to technological advancement and shale gas discovery). Each project would require more than seven years to complete — a period that is beyond the tenure of any government and during which there will be continued loadshedding and the use of scarce funds for schemes with limited visibility and no immediate political returns. For reasons ranging from country image, an inadequate supporting infrastructure, the tortuous experience of independent power producers in getting paid on time for supplying power etc it will be difficult to attract significant volumes of private investment. And the government will hardly be in a position to provide the required level of funding without an enormous increase in tax revenues, a restructuring of its development programme through the abandonment of some projects (which may involve penalties for rescinding contracts) and delaying others (with the increase in project costs), cutting subsidies on fertiliser, wheat, etc. Moreover, a decision will be required on the allocation of a scarce resource — gas — an important input for keeping energy prices affordable. Should this heavily ‘subsidised’ gas be used for power generation rather than as fuel for CNG and industry, or for fertiliser production? This would require a decision on its import and the level of subsidy that the government will be in a position to afford, apart from the cost of suspending provision of gas to five fertiliser companies in which huge investments have been made. It would also need a change in the bizarre policy governing the determination of tariffs of gas companies SNGPL and SSGC. Presently, they are entitled to a 17.5pc return on assets, which creates incentives to expand systems to add on more consumers for an already scarce resource. And so on. So, to summarise the arguments above, not only will resolution of the issues of the power sector take time they will also require broader policy reform, well beyond sectoral boundaries, the basic premise of this article. The writer is a former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan. Strategies to prevent violence By Moonis Ahmar WITH its realities of violent conflict along several fault lines, Pakistan stands to benefit greatly from pursuing preventive action strategies. . Over the past five years, thousands of people have been killed and injured in acts of terrorism and violent conflict, particularly in the volatile parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata, Balochistan and Karachi. Sections of Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan have also witnessed large-scale violence, particularly in terms of sectarian conflict.Preventive action is a multi-dimensional approach used to avert the outbreak of conflict by applying the techniques of early warning and early response. Preventive action aims to anticipate conflicts and prevent their escalation by pursing a multi-stakeholder approach involving civil society groups, state actors, and regional and international organisations.The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflicts, a think tank based in the Hague, has done pioneering work in conflict-ridden parts of the world by helping local stakeholders build a conflict-prevention mechanism. Political will, determination, resources and adequate knowledge about the nature of conflict are essential for a viable preventive action plan.In Pakistan, it is easy to discern a dearth of basic understanding, expertise and vision to prevent conflicts that cause colossal destruction. Intolerance, extremism, militancy, radicalisation and terrorism have permeated the very fabric of Pakistani society. Yet even more unfortunately, there is indifference and apathy at the state and societal levels in dealing with the chaos and violence. For quite a long time, now, civil society groups and other stakeholders have been warning that there would be an outbreak of large-scale violence and terrorism related to sectarian, communal and ethnic issues. But the response from major stakeholders has been no more than lukewarm. Early warnings about pre-poll violence were also given but they failed to elicit any serious response from state authorities.The lack of a preventive action plan to use against groups that openly challenge the writ of the state and force people to conform to their way of life proves the incompetence of those responsible for protecting people’s lives. For instance, for different reasons, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and hard-line Baloch nationalist groups had made it clear that they would try to sabotage the holding of general elections.The former warned that it would target “secular” political parties because of their alleged pro-American stance, and the latter wanted to compel voters to boycott the elections because of what they see as military operations in their province.When early warning was given, why did the police, Rangers and the intelligence agencies fail to provide an early response? Why were adequate measures not taken against these groups?The absence in Pakistan of a culture of tolerance, innovation and a forward-looking approach in terms of critical issues provides space to those who pursue an extremist, radical and violent agenda. Preventive action can work when there is political will and determination at the state and societal levels to understand the dynamics of conflict and take steps for their prevention. This may be an uphill task but in view of the predictable human casualties that would occur in case a conflict broke out, it is prudent to take preventative steps before it is too late. Without doubt, prevention is better than cure.Strategies for preventive action in Pakistan could be planned at four levels. First, at the institutional level, conflict-prevention centres need to be established in Pakistan’s conflict zones. These centres, equipped with technical expertise and having knowledge about conflict zones, would play an important role in providing information and data about the possible outbreak of conflict.The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has one such centre in Vienna and conflict prevention centres are located in the United States, Japan, Jordan, Ethiopia, Senegal and elsewhere. The proposed preventive action centres in Pakistan could focus on early warning and early response so that local conflicts can be prevented to keep them from becoming a major threat to national security later. Second, preventive action can be taken at the educational level by empowering the young people of Pakistan with knowledge about conflict and how it can be prevented. There exists enormous scope to introduce courses on conflict prevention, management and resolution in the schools, colleges and universities of Pakistan so that the required interest is created about the issues that cause periodic outbreaks of violent conflict. Third, at the societal level civil society organisations and political parties could work together to create awareness about the need for an effective preventive action mechanism. Had there been political will and commitment on the part of these groups to understand the causes, nature and dynamics of conflicts at the sectarian, ethnic, communal, economic and political levels, Pakistan would have been better off.Finally, at the state level, the capacity of the police, Rangers and intelligence agencies needs to be enhanced so that they can sense a potential conflict and work for its timely prevention. If state institutions responsible for maintaining law and order and providing basic security were professional in the discharge of their duties, there would be a marked reduction in violence. The need is to create early warning and early response mechanisms related to the outbreak of violence in Pakistan. The writer is a professor of International Relations at the University of Karachi and a member of the Preventive Action Group, Regional Centre for Strategic Studies, Colombo.email@example.com Enough of repeats By Asha’ar Rehman FIRST half exciting, second half formulaic: purely from a spectator’s point of view this is 2013 election in a nutshell. . Reminiscences of the 1990s that we all dread in the new Pakistan which we all seek to create today. This is not a warning, just a reminder that history must not repeat itself. Some of the unwanted bits from history have already been allowed too many repeats. History says an election which is controlled is transparently unfair. In 1990, a few officially recognised minders of the state of Pakistan were moved by their conscience to purge the country of the unclean. Money changed hands to thwart selected politicians. The election was fixed. The levers have since travelled to the militants. The results are uncannily similar.In the 1990 general election, more remembered by many today because of the Asghar Khan case, it was a landslide victory in Punjab for the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad. The IJI won 91 of the total 114 national seats in Punjab, while the Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDA) got only 14. Yet the Ittehad’s all-Pakistan haul was 105. Back then, just as now, the Sharif-led side got an overwhelming majority in Punjab. PPP (PDA) was reduced to 10 seats in the province. The big difference was that despite it being a majority party there it did lose Sindh. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was a collage of various hues as it has remained to this day. Balochistan is delicate now and was sensitively poised even before when the IJI did manage to have its government there as it did in the three other provinces. They say things have changed over all these years. The 1990 experiment ended less than three years into Nawaz Sharif’s first government in Islamabad, but the country has since proven it can have a full term of civilian rule and has grown up sufficiently to have a civilian to civilian transfer of power. The government that ruled between 2008 and 2013 failed miserably, going little beyond ceremonially discovering and gleefully acknowledging that it had been allowed to breath beyond the average life span in Pakistan. Election 2013 is a brutal reminder of just how much the party which headed the last coalition has suffered. The lack of campaign was an issue, but there were other problems which the vote on May 11 provided a grave confirmation of. A lack of governance has exacted a huge price from the PPP, which may have at some places been unsettled by the administration’s bias for its rivals. In an emerging divide between the new (PTI) and the old, sections of the population which felt more secure with the conventional, had to choose between the PML-N and PPP. They sided with the PML-N, which offered them possibilities and security the PPP was in no position to offer. Security against militancy was an extremely important election issue in Punjab though the pre-election speeches may not have reflected this. The last coalition’s failure to either co-opt or eliminate the militants was a major if not the deciding factor behind their bad performance at the polls. Unless their appointed protectors appear powerful enough to quell the militancy, reconciliation is the only viable option for the people. No amount of persuasion will convince the Pakistani majority to own the war unless there is evidence to convince them that this war can actually be won. This is human nature. Until then, they will be naturally inclined to look for security via deals. There are a few recent examples to be emulated nonetheless. As a significant sign of evolution the political commentators agree that, even with the huge mandate behind him, Nawaz Sharif will have to display the Asif Zardari trait of ‘reconciliation’ to keep matters intact and running, as opposed to Zardari who kept it intact but hardly running. The divide runs through parliament, with PPP maintaining a strong presence in the Senate, and the provinces looking poised for either non-PML-N governments or difficult coalitions. Balochistan has been the subject of many positive overtures by Nawaz in recent times. In government his initial test will be which nationalists he chooses to partner with and that choice will reflect how much leeway other important ‘non-political’ actors are willing to allow him in the restive province. For how long they will allow it, is a moot point and will decide exactly how much progress democracy here has actually made. Nawaz has to be given an opportunity to play positive in Balochistan to avoid a repeat of what happened after a similar mandate back in the 1990 polls. KP represents an altogether different challenge. It is where the PML-N and its new challenger the PTI face off against each other. The PTI is buoyed by its youth while the PML-N, though it has won a number of seats in the KP Assembly, has been bruised. Many of its old stalwarts have lost in the election and the party organisation is not in all that good a shape following some of the recent engineering works carried out by the leadership in the name of repair. KP, the province which rejects parties with a facility and frequency unmatched in the country, is all set to offer the next phase of the Khan versus Sharif fight. The first question is, are the people in KP able to differentiate ideologically between Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif? Or did they also vote with the same mindset with which many in Lahore cast their ballot? For a large number of voters in Lahore the election on May 13 was not a rejection of one party in favour of the other. Ideologically, a distinction was difficult and experience in administration competed with change and enthusiasm. One option was good but the other was good enough. That must change now. The nuances must emerge to help people tell one contestant from the other, in Punjab and more likely in the ever impatient KP. The writer is Dawn’s resident editor in Lahore. The Afghanistan challenge By Najmuddin A. Shaikh IT is more or less clear that despite security threats and administrative breakdowns the massive — by Pakistani standards — turnout in the May 11 elections has given Nawaz Sharif a clear mandate. . It would be fair to point out that outside its power base in Punjab the PML-N has garnered few seats giving credence to the sting-in-the-tail felicitation by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader who congratulated Sharif on the ‘Punjabi party’s victory in Punjab’. This may perhaps be seen as an attempt to fan parochialism but more likely it was a justification for Altaf Hussain’s subsequent claim that the MQM alone represented Karachi and its mandate should be respected — setting aside rigging charges — just as the MQM had recognised the PML-N’s mandate in Punjab. This, to say the least, is not a good development and will be one of the myriad internal issues that Nawaz Sharif will have to deal with as he assumes the reins of office. Of these myriad problems, internal security is certainly as close to the top as the need for an IMF agreement to provide some breathing space for an economy that has been perceived as being on the verge of collapse. It is imperative as the new prime minister takes charge and finalises his plan for the first 100 days in office that he and his team recognise that the policies that the government adopts and implements on various facets of Afghan-related issues will determine the degree to which the government succeeds in finding an acceptable and viable solution to both these problems.President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry both congratulated the people of Pakistan with Kerry pledging: “We’ll be working with the new government to advance shared interests including a peaceful, more prosperous and stable future for Pakistan and the region.” Subsequently, as it became clear that Sharif had emerged as the undisputed winner, Kerry also spoke to him presumably reiterating the gist of the message already conveyed. What is important is that the US administration hopes to work with Pakistan to advance “shared interests”.The principal ‘shared interest’ other than Pakistan’s internal security is a relatively peaceful Afghanistan or an ‘Afghanistan good enough’ from which the US and Nato forces can, using Pakistani transit routes, withdraw in good order over the next 18 months.The Americans have not quite given up on ‘reconciliation’ in Afghanistan but it is evident that given the objections in the US Congress and President Hamid Karzai’s obduracy there is little chance for the time being that the Afghan Taliban’s negotiating team’s presence in Qatar will be used as a means to effect the much-touted prisoner exchange as a prelude to the Taliban renouncing ties with Al Qaeda and starting negotiations with the Karzai administration. As regards Pakistan’s internal security the US will want continued Pakistani support for US efforts to eliminate Al Qaeda safe havens and operating bases in our tribal areas. Nawaz Sharif has been unequivocal in calling ‘drone attacks’ a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty but has been cautious about how he will seek to secure their cessation. It would be wrong, however, to assume that the worldwide outcry against the indiscriminate use of drones will assist Sharif in getting a negotiated cessation of these attacks. While Obama may be prepared to limit their use elsewhere his administration’s policy will be to place no legal or moral restrictions on drone attacks in our region.Lastly, the Americans would like Pak-Afghan relations to be made as normal as possible. They recognise that the current hullabaloo is largely of Afghanistan’s making and a gambit by Karzai to create a ‘nationalist’ issue where no cause for it exists. They recognise that Pakistan is seeking to promote reconciliation and that the obstacle may well be Karzai. But the Americans have a genuine problem with the movement of the Taliban across the border from their safe havens in Pakistan and with the perception that Pakistan wants a seat at the negotiating table to use it to determine Afghanistan’s relations with other countries.Our prime minister-in-waiting has many detractors in Washington, who view him, to put it bluntly, as a ‘closet’ Taliban. They suspect, as do people elsewhere in the world, that Punjab as a whole and PML-N rallies were spared because of some tacit understanding with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other blacklisted organisations. His pro-business policies, his desire for better relations with India and the relatively successful tenure of his brother as chief minister of Punjab during the last few turbulent years are positives that would weigh much more heavily if his policies towards Afghanistan and towards the TTP in Pakistan do not reflect a pro-Taliban bias.Let us be clear. For the moment, America’s most urgent need is safe transit through Pakistan for the safe withdrawal from Afghanistan. Its second most urgent need is to avoid the collapse of the Pakistan economy, which could bring chaos in its wake. During Sharif’s last tenure, in 1998 the US administration had sought a waiver from Congress to allow it to vote for assistance to Pakistan from international financial institutions when the law required it to veto all such assistance after the nuclear test because they wanted to avoid the unintended consequence of bringing about a collapse of the Pakistan economy. One can therefore assume that it will support a new IMF programme notwithstanding doubts and apprehensions. But this is short-term. In the longer term, other factors, including Pakistan’s duplicity, unwarranted ambitions in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s role in America’s failure in Afghanistan will all play a part in moulding US policy towards the region. Sharif and his team must take this into account as they formulate their policy on a troubled Afghanistan. The writer is a former foreign secretary. Third chance for Nawaz Sharif By Mahir Ali HERE comes part two of Pervez Musharraf’s nightmare. In his heyday as Pakistan’s military ruler, he had vowed that his two civilian predecessors, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, would never again sully the corridors of power.. Only her tragic assassination forestalled the former’s third stint as prime minister, after Musharraf had been pressured into conceding the possibility of cohabitation, and her widower was able to manoeuvre him out of the presidency and into exile within months of the PPP’s success in the 2008 elections.Five years later, it is Nawaz Sharif’s turn. Musharraf, meanwhile, remains under house arrest, having returned from exile under the absurd assumption of a homecoming worthy of a would-be national saviour.He overthrew Sharif in 1999, after the latter sought to oust him as military chief — and tried to prevent a commercial flight conveying Musharraf home from a visit to Sri Lanka from landing.The coup was a travesty, but it’s easy to forget that back then Sharif’s ouster occasioned considerable relief and even rejoicing. The BBC’s Owen Bennett-Jones remembers, though. In a recent comment, noting that Sharif “has established himself as the most successful politician in Pakistan’s history”, he recalls: “The last time he lived in Prime Minister’s House … his main objective was to see off anyone who challenged his authority.“Frustrated by opposition in the parliament, he tried to pass a constitutional amendment that would have enabled him to enforce Sharia law…“When Nawaz Sharif was removed from power in 1999, many Pakistanis expressed great relief, describing him as corrupt, incompetent and power-hungry. By overlooking that history and giving him such a strong mandate in this weekend’s elections, Pakistanis have expressed their confidence that Mr Sharif is now an older and wiser politician.”Older, yes. Wiser? One would certainly hope so, but that remains to be seen. It may seem unkind to see the new mandate as a consequence of short memories. It’s worth noting, besides, that whereas the PML-N’s thumping majority in 1997 was based on an abysmally low turnout, this time about 60pc of registered voters are believed to have cast their ballots. In many countries that wouldn’t be considered a particularly enthusiastic level of popular participation, but in Pakistan’s context it is a historic high.Imran Khan’s campaign on behalf of his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is generally credited with having driven a substantial proportion of the excitement, notably among urban youth, but desperation for change was not restricted to his supporters. The inefficacy of the PPP-led government — notably on the economic front, and specifically in terms of its proven inability to tackle the energy crisis — inevitably propelled a momentum for change.Many PTI enthusiasts, including some who ought to have known better, appear to have assumed their party would be the primary beneficiary of popular discontent. That appears to have occurred in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the PTI is expected to be a contender for power, albeit as part of a provincial coalition. It did not, however, transpire in Punjab.There have been allegations of voter suppression and ballot stuffing — including apparent turnouts of well over 100pc in areas served by more than four dozen polling booths — and one certainly hopes they will be thoroughly investigated, with re-polling ordered in constituencies where such behaviour is suspected of having affected the result. However, the anecdotal evidence available thus far does not exactly suggest that the PML-N’s landslide in Punjab somehow held back a PTI tsunami.At the same time, the fact that Sharif’s mandate — a near-absolute majority in the National Assembly, judging by unofficial results — is based overwhelmingly on Punjab complicates his task in terms of national integration.Hopefully he will be keeping this in mind as he negotiates with independents to set up a stable government. Punjab has historically, and with good cause, been accused of political and economic hegemony. A successful federal government should strive to ensure that impression is not reinforced.The PPP, embarrassingly decimated elsewhere, is likely to lead the Sindh government. The political contours in perennially beleaguered Balochistan are more uncertain. Sharif may be relatively well-placed to resolve the issues benighting that province, although it will depend greatly on his relations with the military — which served as his benefactor before it became his nemesis.Both the PML-N and the PTI have campaigned against the American drone strikes, with plenty of justification. They have also signalled a desire to dissociate Pakistan from the so-called war on terror. It is unclear what this means in practical terms. The drones, counterproductive as they may be, are after all not the only problem, and both Sharif and Imran Khan have been reticent in criticising brazen acts of violence by the Pakistani Taliban while holding out the possibility of negotiations.They could be treading a minefield here. A negotiated end to frequent bouts of mindless slaughter would indeed be welcome, but can it be achieved without conceding any of the Taliban’s obscurantist demands — not least their declared aversion to democracy per se? Progress on that front is vital for Pakistan, but the viability of achieving it peaceably remains indeterminate.Sharif’s conciliatory tone towards India, meanwhile, is a welcome signal and Manmohan Singh’s presence at his inauguration would be symbolically useful. Even on this front, though, ostensibly good intentions have in the past been thwarted by precipitate actions by the military or its proxies.On these and various other fronts, Sharif has his task cut out. Notwithstanding his record in power, he deserves the benefit of the doubt. But he shouldn’t be counting on the likelihood of an extended honeymoon the third time around. firstname.lastname@example.org The virtual vote By Rafia Zakaria IN those heady first days of the Arab Spring, it was the internet that mattered most. . At the centre of an uprising that would eventually uproot a dictator of decades was a tech-savvy Google employee: with his adroit manipulation of Twitter and Facebook, Wael Ghonim was able from his Cairo apartment to mobilise first hundreds, then thousands and then even hundreds of thousands of Egyptian youth. Tahrir Square filled up and filled up again; a regime fell and finally, there were elections.It was after the elections that Egypt’s new reality emerged. It was after the activists — mostly young, mostly urban, and all hopefully cheering democracy — brought down a dictator, after they got a date for elections, after the votes were counted, that the disappointment set in.The Egypt that had been mobilised was different from the progressive Egypt that might have been imagined from the earlier resolve and the slogans and unity of the initial protesters.The conservative Muslim Brotherhood candidate prevailed over the new democracy; Mohammed Morsi was elected president and Egypt set about putting into motion reforms that curbed the rights of women and minorities and that mixed religion and state.The story is instructive in restive, post-electoral Pakistan. In the days before the elections, it was the newest party, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), that worked the hardest to get people excited about the polls.In a country where actual campaigning was at best restricted to a province and a half, and at worst solely to television, the young, urban PTI activists took to Facebook and Twitter.The youth that only barely remembered the last election and did not remember at all the claims of elections past of ‘historic’ status (say those that took place after 11 years of dictatorship or those that led to the secession of a chunk of the country) labelled this one as the most historic.Their enthusiasm was infectious and their techniques virtual. They had Twitter to broadcast their verve and Facebook to spread their songs; by dominating them, they dominated the virtual world.A bit of unplanned tragedy added to the dramatics of their strategy. Imran Khan fell and everyone on Twitter and Facebook seemed to fall in love. His hospital-bed speech went viral, invoking gushing emotions from hundreds, perhaps thousands. Suddenly, if you had a Facebook page or a Twitter account, you became part of a community, a conglomerate of ‘change’. Domination on the screen began, imperceptibly, surreptitiously, to seem like domination in reality. The night before the elections, the plugged-in and Wi-Fi connected portion of Pakistan’s population seemed sure of victory. Their close cousins, television commentators, caught the fever; everyone forecast a victory for change.On May 11, Facebook profile pictures of PTI’s young supporters ecstatically displayed their purple-stained thumbs, and tweets exhorted all to vote. The connected young did not go alone; they took their old grandmothers, their reluctant mothers and their busy fathers and they broadcast it all, documenting collectively the steps to the change they were sure would come.Their banter was again virtual, zipping back and forth in a realm that cannot be caught or captured, but their words whetted and exhorted. When turnout was high, near a record 60pc, they congratulated themselves. Change was coming, they proclaimed against the white of Facebook status messages; it was surely round the corner. Everyone they knew was voting for the Captain — everyone on Facebook, everyone on Twitter.We now know the end to the story. Change did come, as it inevitably does with very election; Pakistan voted. However, it elected not the PTI but the PML-N. The party that prevailed was not the party that had dominated virtually, but the one that had dominated in less connected environs — the villages of rural Punjab, where few know what Twitter is and no one has ever heard of Facebook. On the face of it, the exhortation seems obvious; a party mobilising a lot of young people must not mistake the virtual vote for the actual vote, or mistake the proliferation of Facebook statuses and tweets for the auguries of electoral victory.That, indeed, is one message that can be gleaned from both the results of the vote and the baffled disappointment of those that must for the first time disentangle their virtual lives from their actual ones. There is, however, another, more crucial kernel in the result and it is one that Pakistan shares with Egypt.It would seem that those who mobilise voters, create the fervour for exercising the franchise and manufacture virtually the climate of participation few in new democracies have experienced, stand only to lose at the ballot box itself.In simple terms, those who generate the excitement for the election, raise their voices first, and can use their relative affluence and technological know-how to begin something, lack, by their very initiative, the numbers to prevail electorally.The reasons are simple; public discourse is constructed by those that have the time, the freedom and the affluence to start something new. In Pakistan, as in Egypt, it was the young urban voter, who wanted to transcend ethnicity, social class, ideology and vote simply for change. Many sections were mobilised by them, but did not ultimately vote for them.It was a cruel lesson, and it has left the nation with many questions. Can a young democracy be an inclusive one, such that the votes of the rural and uneducated count the same as the educated and the urban? Is progress possible when those who start things, make voting cool and elections meaningful, are ultimately seen as the rebellious ‘others’ that must be kept out of the halls of power? The writer is an attorney teaching constitutional law and political email@example.com More sweet than sour By I.A. Rehman EVEN after making allowances for the controversy over irregularities in polling at a number of places, the May 11 election marks a step forward in the Pakistanis’ quest for a democratic order. . The most positive development has been the people’s reiteration of their faith in representative rule. They defied the death squads as well as the preachers of theocracy and thronged to the polling stations in larger numbers than they had done for four decades. The call of democracy was answered in both rural and urban areas and no class chose to stay out of the electoral process. There was a good crop of new faces, including many women. All this augurs well for Pakistan’s polity.However, the joy of a popular election has been diminished to some extent by the failure of many candidates to respect the electorate’s choices. That results were manipulated at as many as 100 polling stations raises serious doubts about the fairness of the poll. Those who were determined to win regardless of means were helped by the absence/weakness of their rivals and the connivance of police/polling staff over whom neither the caretaker regimes nor the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) exercised due control.While every effort must be made by the ECP to deal with all complaints of irregularities in accordance with the law and as expeditiously as possible, it is doubtful if the balance of power in the national and provincial assemblies will be affected. This is unlikely to soothe the emotions of the aggrieved parties but if the present experience can strengthen the foundations of a democratic culture some good may still come out of the present controversy.Much has been said about the significant contribution made by the youth in this year’s election. But the youth has played an important role in all critical elections. The students formed the Muslim League’s vanguard in the historic elections of 1945 and 1946 and so did the students of East Bengal, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the elections in their areas up to 1970. In Punjab the PPP owed its victory in 1970 largely to the young men who voluntarily shouldered the electoral responsibilities on behalf of quite a few absentee candidates. While the young activists in past elections belonged to the disadvantaged sections of society the youth that gained prominence in this year’s election came from a somewhat affluent class and often claimed superiority over their counterparts from the countryside. This group included a good number of young women which could only be welcomed. If the political parties can retain the services of these young cadres and improve their capacity for legwork it will be a most rewarding investment in democratic politics. Unfortunately, hopes that the election would lead to stability in Balochistan have not been realised. Polling in the Pakhtun belt and in Quetta seems to have been peaceful and relatively orderly, with a handsome turnout, but it was extremely sketchy in the Baloch areas. If no polling was possible at a large number of polling stations, the government, security agencies and ECP are jointly responsible for disappointing the electorate and the consequences. The exclusion of a large Baloch population from the electoral process will only add to its frustration and make the task of the new government harder.While it is too early to discuss the challenges the new federal and provincial governments will face, except for pointing out that the crises the state faces will not yield to flights of fancy or to management tricks tried in the past, it is only fair to take stock of the parties that have lost. Since the absence of properly organised political parties has been one of the principal causes of democracy’s travails in this country, the eclipse of three political parties in a single election is no ordinary matter.The defeat the PPP suffered on Saturday is not the worst in its history. It had done worse in 1997 when it won only 18 National Assembly seats, all of them from Sindh, and in the Punjab Assembly it had only three seats. Nevertheless, the fall of this party will have a significant bearing on the course of events in the immediate future. The reasons for its downfall are known and also evident is the possibility of fresh desertions from its ranks. Its future will depend upon a thorough purge of its inept custodians and patient reconstruction of the party structure under fresh, untainted leaders. A greater debacle than the PPP’s has been suffered by the Awami National Party. The militants no doubt made it almost impossible for it to campaign but external threats alone cannot explain its worst drubbing ever. Its strength lay in Bacha Khan’s legacy of courage in the face of danger and integrity in both public and private lives and it abandoned both. It can be revived only by political workers who are not only incorruptible but are also capable of thinking of new solutions to the diverse ills the party is suffering from.The party that may fail to rehabilitate itself altogether is the PML-Q. Created solely for providing soldiers for retired Gen Musharraf, the party has become an anachronism. Quite a few of its followers had joined their mother party (the PML-N) and many others took refuge in the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) tent. One does not know how long this party can survive on the strength of its position in the Senate alone.The one important thing the plight of some of the older parties and the rise of new ones establishes is that all this would have happened much earlier if the military dictators had not put the clock back four times in as many decades. The moral of the story is that political parties will not fail to overcome their shortcomings if the political process is allowed to continue and all those who have flourished by demonising politicians and politics can find cleaner means to earn their keep. The Chinaman cometh By Jawed Naqvi CHINAMAN is a left-arm wrist-spun ball named after Puss Achong the West Indian cricketer of Chinese origin. . Because of its unorthodox delivery, batsmen often find the ball difficult to read, not unlike the inscrutable Chinese mind layered with Confucian stealth and aloofness in the midst of raging chaos. Read Henry Kissinger’s insightful book On China to see how a deeply revered philosophical outlook that precedes communism and other religions by several centuries holds the nation’s spine of steel and spring together. You look at any area be it in Africa or Asia, Latin America or Europe, the Chinese have used their Western rivals virtually as a road-clearing party to surge ahead quietly.India and Pakistan have veered politically and economically to the right in recent years by a selective interpretation or even outright subversion of electoral verdicts. This should have ensconced them in the lap of neo-liberal corners of the West. But there you have Premier Li Keqiang, after an unnerving 20 days of sabre-rattling in disputed Ladakh, heading to shake hands with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.In Pakistan, when Li meets Nawaz Sharif, his Confucian mind will not be blind to the bad blood generated by the Lal Masjid incident of 2007. The violent conflict was triggered between the army and well-armed mullahs in Islamabad after the military sought to assuage the angered Chinese whose women workers had become targets of the Muslim clergy’s ire for a variety of reasons. Sharif was seen as siding with the clergy, not the least because the assault on the mosque was led by his bête noire Pervez Musharraf. The Americans are said to spend much of their time toppling dictators and if necessary even democracies. The Chinese are rarely unwilling to work with both.Instances are legion of China’s ability to play both sides of the street. You would have thought that Nepal’s Maoists were hugely lionised in Beijing. On the contrary, two Maoist fugitives from Nepal were picked up from Tibet and promptly delivered to the torture chambers of the monarch in Kathmandu. When the Maoists toppled the king and came to power in Nepal, the Chinese wasted no time in cosying up to them.The Chinese recently offered half a billion dollars, according to reports, to shore up a proposed Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline that has angered the United States. Sharif’s proximity to Saudi Arabia should be a factor if the project is now shelved or put on the back-burner. Will it make a difference to the Chinese? Slightly, perhaps, but inscrutably so. How different is their approach in dealing with friends and foes, without as much as an inflection of weak emotions compared to their two perpetually quarrelling neighbours in South Asia? Chopping of heads, killing of jail inmates, beating up of diplomats, not to ignore nuclear ultimatums they are known to issue with frightening ease to each other. Even in the middle of brief and hard won bonhomie Indians and Pakistanis are capable of spoiling it. I watched with horror in February 1999, when a horde of Jamaat-i-Islami supporters of Nawaz Sharif descended on the Minar-i-Pakistan in Lahore with gallons of water. They were there to cleanse the place of his guest’s footprints; scrubbing out any incidental Indian lint Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s footwear might have left behind. (It is a different matter that the JI had absolutely no reverence for the historical importance of the Minar having opposed the creation of Pakistan, which the structure symbolises.) In July 2001, a bunch of Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh stable purified the monument to Mahatma Gandhi in Delhi after Pervez Musharraf laid a wreath there. (It is another matter that the RSS hated Gandhi perhaps slightly more than Musharraf who was groomed to have contempt for the leader of India’s independence.) The Chinese must have watched both the incidents very closely. Right-wing is the ascendant star in India and Pakistan. But does right and left matter to the Chinese? They connect the ideological spectrum from Venezuela to Iran, from Sudan to Greece.There is hardly a day when the secular brigade in India doesn’t go into raptures over the denial of US visa to Narendra Modi for what he did with Muslims and Christians in his domain. It might seem a bit like clutching at straws but a notional victory is still a victory for the secular partisans. In the meanwhile, the Chinese quietly, almost surreptitiously, had smuggled out Modi for an intensive tour of their country. Considering that Modi’s right-wing Hindu party carried out the 1998 nuclear tests and blamed them on the perceived threat from China, it was a shrewd and far-sighted move by the Chinese to befriend the chief minister of Gujarat. He may never come to power in India, but the Chinese are prepared if he does.Whatever the outcome of the 2014 verdict in India, Beijing is thus poised to strike a chord with either side. The Congress under Sonia Gandhi still swoons to the memory of Deng Xiaoping’s 1988 handshake with her husband. And if Manmohan Singh wins another mandate in 2014 — he filed his papers for a safe Rajya Sabha seat from Assam on Tuesday — he could well usher an era of a market-based camaraderie involving India, Pakistan and China. In the meantime, when it was raining bombs and missiles in Kabul where the West and, less frequently, the Indians were getting hit, does anyone remember how the Chinaman was coping in the swirling chaos? He may well have been pondering the next move, still 20 years away. Quietly. The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.firstname.lastname@example.org Let the games begin By Khurram Husain A COMPLICATED election has given us a simple outcome. With a single party in charge of things, perhaps one can hope for some stability in the government. . And with a mandate just large enough to legislate and run policy, but not large enough to tamper with the structure of the Constitution (unlike 1997), the electorate has given Nawaz Sharif just enough space in which to deliver on his promises and not an inch more. So as the old saying goes: let the games begin. Given that the first 100 days are the most crucial, when the government has the largest room for manoeuvre and is least constrained by the play of vested interest, its actions during this time will be the best indicator of its intentions.Here are two things that we can reasonably expect to see concrete movement on right away: approaching the IMF to shore up the deteriorating reserves, and the grant of MFN trading status to India.In both cases, the groundwork has already been done. Mr Ishaq Dar should speak first and foremost to the State Bank and get a detailed briefing on the state of the reserves. He should ask first for the detailed numbers on the reserves, followed by the repayment schedule to the IMF.He will discover that the next fiscal year, which begins July 1 and ends next June, is the last year of repayment to the IMF as such. Total repayments scheduled during this fiscal year are somewhere around $3.3 billion, with two large payments looming — one in August, the other in November — each of which is just under $400 million. At the State Bank he will be told by most that the situation is deteriorating fast. The treasurer is likely to complain that he is having a hard time keeping the rupee steady without adequate firepower to back him up. The monetary policy department is likely to tell him that interest rates cannot be brought down so long as the reserves position is shaky.Mr Dar should then ask them what advice the State Bank gave to the outgoing government regarding the reserves. If the position is indeed as shaky as it is being painted, he should say, when did they first begin to sound the alarm bells? If he feels that the State Bank advised the outgoing government to leave the decision of approaching the IMF to the next government, then Mr Dar should ask them whether this was an economic decision or a political one, and who at the central bank wishes to take responsibility for this advice.A large sprawling meeting with treasury heads and exchange companies — the sort that Mr Saleem Mandviwalla so eagerly sought — should be avoided because nothing useful ever comes out of them.Instead, Mr Dar should make up his own mind whether or not an approach to the IMF is needed or whether Pakistan can weather its last year of repayments and capital account stress without any support from the lender of last resort. The only point he needs to have urged upon him is to do this fast, and signal it unambiguously to the markets. This is not a 100-day agenda, this should be done in the first 10 days.Let’s not repeat the worst mistakes of 2008, which included a government heavily distracted and excessively hopeful that bilateral aid would make any approach to the IMF unnecessary. Time should not be wasted tallying up projections of possible inflows from bilateral sources. We either resolve to ride out the next year on the strength of our own balance of payments, or we get support from the IMF. There is no option C.Mr Dar is a known quantity in the money markets. Many players there — whether treasury heads of major banks or exchange companies — have been around long enough to remember the last time Mr Dar headed things at Q block. Some of them even worked with him during those crucial days, when Pakistan floated on a wafer-thin raft of ice, managing its payments to foreign creditors and oil suppliers on a day-to-day basis.Things are not that bad this time round. Another positive here is that Mr Dar is not really a ‘technocrat’ of the sort that the outgoing government relied upon. The typical technocrat has a tough time being heard or being taken seriously by his cabinet colleagues.By contrast, Mr Dar is a political insider with deep roots in his party and equally deep links with the party leadership. He should not have as hard a time getting his way as his predecessors did, which places a burden of expectations upon his shoulders at the outset.In the power sector, the new government must do two things if it is serious about delivering on its campaign promise of ending loadshedding in two years. First it must amalgamate the ministries of petroleum and water and power into a single ministry of energy. Then it must shine a light on the power bureaucracy, and develop and implement a plan to choke off all sources of arbitrary decision-making within it.Both tasks involve more tedium than rocket science, and both are possible in the first 100 days. Without doing this, the new government will find itself going round and round in the same circle that the last government went dizzy in. The whole power crisis will then necessarily devolve into the question of arranging liquidity for PSO so it can pay for the next consignment of furnace oil. Of course there’s the fiscal side, probably the most important which merits special treatment. But for now, some of us will be watching carefully to see how serious the government is about resolving the economic issues facing the country, and the first steps they take within days of coming into office will tell us a lot about their seriousness of purpose.So like I said, let the games begin! The writer is a Karachi-based journalist covering business and economic email@example.comTwitter: @khurramhusain Fixing the economy By Sakib Sherani After a landmark election, and a comprehensive win for PML-N, there is yet another opportunity to ‘fix’ Pakistan’s economy. How the challenges are perceived by the leadership of the PML-N and its advisors will determine, of course, the new government’s policy response to the serious issues at hand. . This article is an ‘open letter’ of sorts to this group of senior leaders and advisors, urging them to view Pakistan’s economic problems from a perspective that is perhaps different and perhaps more longer term (beyond the election-cycle) than the plans they have made so far for running the economy between now and 2018. The key points are as follows:— The house is ‘on fire’The condition of Pakistan’s economy, as opposed to that of many Pakistanis we interact with, is far worse than what even many economists realise. The comforting narrative of ‘resilience’ and ‘a hardy country’ is meeting up with the ugly reality of unchecked population growth, fraying institutions, capital flight, brain drain and declining water tables. The problem with the ‘we are a resilient nation’ narrative is that it is rooted in a historical, static analysis. It also breeds a sense of complacency we can do without. An examination of the economy’s vital signs in a more dynamic manner reveals a much more worrying picture. (As I said off-the-cuff at the launch of the Institute of Public Policy’s annual report in Lahore two weeks ago, the “plane is falling from the sky, while the first- and business-class passengers are happily sipping their drinks and munching peanuts!”.) Politicians and Pakistan’s other entrenched special interest groups probably subscribe wholeheartedly to the ‘resilient country’ argument because it demands no action — it implicitly says “the current state of affairs is an aberration, and will largely self-correct”. That is simply not true. A look beyond annual macro-economic indicators, such as the growth rate or the fiscal deficit for a particular year, and focusing instead on the longer-term trend, reveals a worrying picture of the underlying state of the economy and its decaying foundations. The indicators of the long-term health of the economy tell us that Pakistan is experiencing: the longest economic slowdown in its history; the lowest investment rates by the private sector in over 50 years; a decline to a trickle in the flow of foreign direct investment into the country; a shrinking formal economy and an expanding informal sector; a near-collapse of the energy sector; and the near-complete destruction of its public sector by whole-scale looting by the previous government The bottom-line: a significant part of the economy is facing a severe, and, in the case of the manufacturing sector, possibly an existential, challenge. (No serious, credible economist will bring up the stock market performance as one possible counterpoint in this debate, because of its largely fallacious signal on the health of the real economy). — Growth alone is not sufficientIf the onerous challenges are to be addressed, restoring growth to the economy will be important. However, too many policymakers around the world, and not just in Pakistan, think that generating economic growth will, on its own, resolve all problems. As I have consistently argued, along with eminent economists such as Dr Akmal Hussain and others — but with a slightly differing perspective in our views — how economic growth is generated is equally important. The importance of the origins and structure of economic growth is basically two-fold: the two factors determine how sustainable, and how poverty-reducing and income equality-enhancing, the growth will prove to be. Take the case of Greece. Before its dramatic economic collapse, Greece was recording a reasonable rate of GDP growth each year. One year before the start of the global economic crisis in 2007, and the start of the eurozone’s woes, Greece’s GDP growth was 5.5pc. The five-year average rate of economic growth was a reasonably healthy 4.3pc. So what happened? Why did the Greek economy with reasonable rates of growth collapse so dramatically? As I have pointed out repeatedly, most recently in Pathways to growth (May 3, Dawn), a debt-fuelled approach to growth will almost always end in tragedy. In a cruel, but somewhat delicious, irony, Greece is even equipped with a European Union-financed modern underground transit system in Athens that has been the envy of many other European cities. Moral of the story: Debt-financed bullet trains — or any number of yellow taxis, green tractors, silver laptops, or any colour-coded placebo — will not fix our problems. They will all lead to only one colour for the budget: deep red. We have to get real —and serious – about the sources of our problems. These are institutional and structural in nature, and will require a response that is commensurate. The most important reform will be in the area of taxes. Stemming the PPP-left rot in the public sector will alone require a massive amount of fiscal resources — over and above the billions of dollars needed for Pakistan’s looming energy and water infrastructure requirements in the next few years. The other reforms I have alluded to previously, and will be covered in a subsequent piece. The bottom-line is that with its current electoral mandate, a PML-N government can quite easily afford to take some difficult decisions in its first six months in power. The effects will last around two to three years, with the economic — as well as political — dividends starting to come thereafter. If it moves with understanding, speed, commitment and clarity of purpose, the PML-N government can achieve what no government has managed so far in Pakistan’s history: a neat alignment of economic reform dividends with the next election cycle. The writer is a former economic adviser to government, and currently heads a macroeconomic consultancy based in Islamabad. What has changed? By Aasim Sajjad Akhtar THE good thing about elections is that they help us distinguish between ‘what should be’ and ‘what actually is’. . I am not suggesting that ideal visions of ‘what should be’ are unimportant; in fact putting forth an agenda for change and striving towards it is arguably the most important duty of those who do politics. Yet given our penchant for delusional narratives, confronting the empirical evidence and drawing meaningful conclusions about what it means is imperative. It is necessary, however, to begin with a caveat. Just about everyone with a stake in the electoral exercise — with the exception of the big victor PML-N — has been claiming that their mandate has been hijacked through various types of rigging. I concur that there were many irregularities both in the lead-up to May 11 and on the day itself. Nonsensical turnout numbers have confirmed many people’s suspicions. Having said this, there is little doubt that many more voters turned out to make themselves heard in this election than is usually the case. It is as yet impossible to know how many first-timers cast their ballot. The sense one gets, however, particularly in urban areas, is that the ‘youth’ factor was indeed significant. In this sense alone the change prophesied by the purported harbingers of a ‘Naya Pakistan’ materialised. Unfortunately for them, the ‘youth’ did not prove to be a large enough demographic to actually win a large number of the contests, or, put differently, the ‘youth’ proved to be not as coherent a constituency as the pre-election slogans suggested. All anecdotal evidence suggests that those hailing from relatively affluent, urban backgrounds — young and old, men and women — were mobilised to vote for the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). But amongst the poorer segments of society — here I include both the lower-middle and working classes — voting preferences would appear to be far more ambiguous. The truth is that there are not enough affluent Pakistanis harbouring the very particular sensibilities that such classes do to be able to radically influence an election outcome. In most cases, ‘traditional’ parties were able to secure a majority of the lower-middle and working class vote; the PML-N took Punjab, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement took urban Sindh and the PPP took rural Sindh. If anything, these parties benefited from the rhetoric of the PTI inasmuch as new voters from across the class divide were encouraged to make clear where they stood. The ‘Naya Pakistan’ slogan did bear fruit, albeit in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. But even a cursory look beneath the surface indicates that the PTI’s victory in KP does not reflect change as much as continuity insofar as voters in that province have resoundingly punished incumbents in each of the past three elections. Indeed, the similarities between the current election outcome and that which brought the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal to power in 2002 are eerie. Recall that the Awami National Party suffered an even worse result 11 years ago than on this occasion, which indicates how prone KP has been to major electoral swings. It would be hard to overlook the effects of war on the psychology of the ordinary Pakhtun — and less so Hindko-speaking — voter. The fact that all of the major protagonists of the war — the Pakistani military, the militants, mainstream parties, the empire and its various middlemen — represent part of the problem rather than the solution cannot be understated when thinking about how silent sufferers react when presented with a chance to express themselves. In the case of the other conflict-ridden area of the country, the situation is dire. If in most provinces voter turnout was the standout feature of the election, in Balochistan it was predictably pathetic. Single-digit figures were common, and the media conveniently chose only to publish results rather than provide any on-ground evidence of the actual balloting. Yes some sort of mandate has been forged and a government will be cobbled together but as military operations and the insurgency intensify, it will be quite a feat for the parties who ‘won’ to actually verify their claims to being the legitimate representatives of Balochistan’s people. So in the final analysis, what has actually changed? The short answer to the question is that things are changing slowly, and will continue to do so as the new demographic realities of Pakistani society become more clearly articulated. It is misleading to argue that a ‘new force’ has emerged on the political scene; it is more accurate to suggest that established political behaviour is changing across class lines, and will continue to do so as information technologies penetrate deeper into society and old ideological fault lines are transgressed.On the other hand, some fault lines appear to be as entrenched as ever. The mandate that Pakistan’s people have granted mainstream parties is an indicator of the distinct perceptions and material interests of the various ethnic communities that make up the country. Sindhis, Punjabis, Mohajirs, Pakhtuns and even the Baloch — by not voting — have indicated that they neither share political preferences nor a common vision for the future (Seraikis may appear to have voted for the PML-N, but this hardly means resentment vis-à-vis north and central Punjab has dissipated).Ethnic and regional divides exist in many democratic countries, including India, and so such a divided electoral mandate is not a problem, per se. What matters is whether or not our democracy is capable of redressing this divide. In any case, the lesson we should learn from our latest experiment with democracy is that there are no quick fixes to our myriad structural crises. People want change, yes, but most still remain unconvinced that there is a party that can deliver it. This is good news for those who want to build a real alternative to status quo, and bad news for those who continue to defend it. The writer teaches at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. Those who did not vote By S.M. Naseem THE recently concluded elections to the central and provincial assemblies have aroused serious debate about the ‘fairness’ of the election process — particularly on polling day. . Charges of poll rigging are being alleged by all sides. There have also been concerns about pre-poll rigging, which is harder to prevent. An important element has been missing from the debate — the ability of different segments of the population to participate in the electoral process without discrimination, to articulate their choice without fear and with full knowledge of the issues that are important to them, and the views and proclivities of the candidates involved. Notwithstanding the celebratory noises about the relatively high turnout, it needs to be remembered that almost 40pc of eligible voters — almost the same percentage as those of the poor in the population — were, wittingly or unwittingly, kept outside the democratic process. Even then, to reach the conclusion that democracy as a public good is for, of and by the rich — largely the affluent middle classes — may seem outlandish. However, if access to the democratic process (including elections) is unevenly distributed and is correlated with income, wealth or other attributes (race, color, religion, ethnicity, etc), the above conclusion seems plausible. The raging debate about the rigging of elections in Karachi, Lahore and other cities on polling day — which possibly involves a small percentage of elite voters in the country’s leading metropolitan centres — pales into insignificance before the disenfranchisement forced on the bottom 40pc of the population through poverty, illiteracy, illness, disability, lack of transportation and other handicaps. Even more forbidding, and inhibiting their progress, is the social exclusion, marginalisation and dependent existence of the helpless poor. For them, the thought of sharing the fruits of glorified high politics of the privileged and powerful who not only make the laws for others but dare to defy them at will is sheer fantasy. The pervasive culture of poverty generates its own compulsions in the underclass, whose ideals, values and survival strategies are vastly different from those of the elite. Elections are seen as the rich man’s game to become richer while leaving the poor to their own devices. The biraderi system and other patron-client relations in a feudal setting make the bulk of the landless rural population, as well as millions of workers in the informal sector, non-autonomous in the exercise of their right to vote.Those who are keen to universalise the right to vote and see the turnout rate rise appreciably above the current level, are prone to focusing on the horizontal aspect (regional, ethnic, gender diversity) more than the vertical (mainly class-based) aspect of equity in voting.Imran Khan’s tsunami waves were strong enough to lift the boats on the shore, but not strong enough to lift those submerged. His supporters in Lahore and Karachi are furious that the residents of DHA and other posh areas were denied the right to vote by the manipulations of their rivals, but they never pause to ask why the inhabitants of those cities’ slums were unable to cast their vote at all. This strengthens the perception that democracy is a forbidden fruit for the poor and the elections are mainly for, by and of the rich.The media — whose barons have profiteered from the election ads of political campaigns by running a 24-hour circus in the name of informing and educating the public — and other enthusiasts of democracy have not tired of blaming those who don’t turn out to vote for shirking their responsibility towards society, and thereby forfeiting the right to criticise the government. But the fact is that a democracy which has an uneven playing field and restricts meaningful and effective participation of the poor is heavily tilted in favour of those who are able to participate more effectively and promote policies that are favourable to them. While the affluent classes, including the middle class, have well-organised political parties to represent their interests, the poorer sections of the population have very weak political representational capabilities, especially after the virtual disappearance of trade unions and peasant organisations in recent years. The agenda of the left parties has been hijacked and corrupted by the populist parties of the right (including the PML-N and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf), who unabashedly misused the iconic revolutionary poetry of Faiz and Jalib to their advantage by camouflaging their conservative, neo-liberal and anti-poor agendas.This does not imply that the election exercise is a waste of resources and does not serve the needs of the poor. But it does emphasise the need for building an architecture of enabling institutions and mechanisms to ensure the participation and articulation of the poor in the electoral process. This can’t be restricted merely to the reform of the Election Commission of Pakistan but needs strong affirmative action in favour of the non-participating, poverty-ridden 40pc.But even electoral reform is unlikely to achieve much, without basic social and economic structural reforms. The basic structural change needed in the economic field includes vigorous policies to improve the income distribution and poverty situation that has deteriorated sharply in the past decade. In the social field, the most important change needed is to ensure the much more fundamental right to education.It is to be hoped that after seriously pursuing pro-education policies in the next five years, a new tsunami spearheaded not by affluent youth graduating from elite private schools, but by those from presently abandoned public ghost schools (which hopefully would have been rehabilitated by then) will be heading towards the polling booths. The writer is a former professor of economics at the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.firstname.lastname@example.org An assembly silenced By A. G. Noorani KASHMIR’S chief minister, Omar Abdullah, successfully foiled repeated attempts in Kashmir’s legislative assembly to discuss Afzal Guru’s case. In this, as on much else, he obediently followed his father’s line. . As chief minister, Farooq Abdullah began touting the idea of making the Line of Control in Kashmir an international boundary between India and Pakistan with full knowledge of the fact that the people would not accept it. His minister for tourism, Ajatshatru Singh, took him at his word and proposed that the Kashmir assembly pass a resolution endorsing the partition proposal. But Farooq Abdullah questioned the assembly’s very right to discuss the issue. He said on March 1, 1997: “We have no right to debate on this issue. It is for the Union government and the prime minister to take any view on the subject.” Worse, “we have no right to debate on the Line of Actual Control in the state assembly”. That right very much exists.The legislative assembly in Srinagar enjoys greater power than any other legislative assembly in India. Article 253 of the constitution of India empowers parliament to legislate even on matters in the state list “for implementing any treaty, agreement or convention with any other country”. The Constitution (application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954 applies Article 253 to Kashmir with this overriding proviso: “Provided that after the commencement of the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954, no decision affecting the disposition of … Jammu and Kashmir shall be made by the government of India without the consent of the government” of Kashmir. What else does it imply but that a “decision” regarding the “disposition” of Kashmir is yet to be made by international “agreement”? This order, made by the president on May 14, 1954, is still in force.Thus the constitution recognises that the future of Kashmir is yet to be decided and that its people will have a decisive voice on it. Consent of the government implies consent of a democratic government responsible to an assembly elected in a free and fair election. The assembly cannot legislate on foreign affairs or bind India and Pakistan. But a resolution adopted by it will represent the voice of the people and wield moral force. Hence the rigged elections. Sheikh Abdullah was permitted to contest the polls in 1977 only after he had concluded the fateful accord with Indira Gandhi in February 1975. She herself wrecked the accord in 1977 and it lost both legal efficacy and moral force. At any rate Article 253 and its proviso survive to this day.Despite the rejection of their mercy petitions by the president, Tamil Nadu’s chief minister J. Jayalalithaa herself moved a resolution in the state assembly, on Aug 30 2011, recommending commutation of the death sentences awarded to three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case to life imprisonment “respecting the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu and the views of the political parties in Tamil Nadu”. Omar Abdullah tweeted: “If the Jammu & Kashmir assembly had passed a resolution similar to the Tamil Nadu one for Afzal Guru, could the reaction have been muted? I think not.” Shortly thereafter on Sept 28, 2011 he had the resolution killed. It was moved by the fearless independent member of the legislative assembly Abdul Rashid. Orchestrated uproars forced frequent adjournments.Afzal Guru was executed on Feb 9, 2013. When the assembly met three adjournment motions were moved by Omar Abdullah’s National Conference and the opposition People’s Democratic Party to discuss the delay in handing over his body to his family. There was debate but no vote. The issue has wider implications — the right of a legislative assembly in a federation to express its views on an issue of foreign policy which affects it or is of national or international significance. Courts have ruled that even municipal corporations have such a right.In 1930 Sind’s judicial commissioners’ court held that the Karachi Municipal Corporation was entitled to discuss “political subjects” by a resolution of four paras. One expressed regret at the arrest and conviction of a corporator and urged “his better treatment in jail”. Another sought leave for municipal employees “convicted for any political office”. Two others protested at the imprisonment of Gandhi and at not placing some political prisoners “in the A Class of prisoners”. Rupchand Bilaram, assistant judicial commissioner, said: “I am not prepared to hold that for the attainment of public objects it may not in certain instances be necessary or in any case be not proper for them to discuss political subjects or that the discussion of such subjects is ultra vires”. On July 10, 1958, a resolution was moved in the Bombay Municipal Corporation expressing its “deep regret about the execution of Mr Imre Nagy, a former prime minister of Hungary and its horror at the crime”. The mayor rejected a point of order challenging the corporation’s power to discuss such a motion. A single judge, Justice K.T. Desai, allowed the writ petition challenging his ruling. On appeal, a division bench reversed his judgement on April 3, 1959. Rupchand Bilaram’s ruling was approved. The court held that the corporation was entitled to impart such public instruction. Does a legislative assembly in a federation enjoy less power than a municipal corporation?The assembly in Srinagar has surely greater moral and legal right to opine on political issues than any other assembly in India. It is the centre’s political stranglehold, which it enjoys through a coalition with a central party, the Congress, and the Kashmir government’s servility which prevent the assembly from exercising its power and performing its duty. There is no constitutional impediment to its self-assertion. The writer is an author and a lawyer. PPP, R.I.P? By Irfan Husain AN old Native American saying gives this sage advice: “If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself on a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount immediately.”. Sadly, I did not follow this wise counsel and found myself on the carcass of a PPP steed that had passed on five years ago. The truth is that the party died the moment Benazir Bhutto was cruelly assassinated on Dec 27, 2007.Since then, the only thing holding the PPP up was the embalming fluid of power. Once this prop was removed, the party promptly imploded. With the perks and privileges of high office, it was possible to give the semblance that all was well, and there was still life in the party founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1969.After he was killed by Zia, first his widow Nusrat, and then his daughter Benazir, took over the reins. But that’s the problem with any family enterprise: after the early generations die, the organisation soon loses its sense of direction. Paid employees grab what they can in a final free-for-all.Had elections not followed on the heels of BB’s murder, the party would have been over for the PPP long ago. There’s no way Asif Zardari could have held it together without the carrot of power. Even loyalists who hated him went along, partly because they had no choice, but mainly because he offered them jobs that enabled them to enrich themselves. The few idealists still remaining in the ranks thought they might use this stint in power to do some good. And to be fair to them, they were able to push through some progressive legislation. But it is pragmatists like Raja Rental and his ilk who appeared to really thrive. It almost seemed that they knew they would never get another shot at power, so they might as well make hay for as long as they could.The reality is that BB never groomed a successor, wanting to elevate one of her children, just as her father had done with her. For her, the PPP was a family heirloom to pass on to the next generation, not a meritocracy where the succession would be on the basis of party elections.This is the model in much of South Asia as well as in other Third World countries. Across the subcontinent, a similar dynamic is at work: the Rajapaksas in Sri Lanka, Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh, Sonia Gandhi in India, and Asif Zardari in Pakistan all represent familiar ambitions to further family interests.My support for the PPP was largely based on its appeal to the marginalised. It was always seen as the party of the poor, the minorities and women. Whatever the reality, the party’s rhetoric placed it on the left, and so I stood by it for years, even when I could see the corruption eating away at its core.I will never forget the sight of my late mother’s two Christian carers weeping, saying they had been orphaned after BB’s murder. The point is that despite her flaws, she genuinely cared for the poor: although it wasn’t in the news at the time, after the near-fatal suicide bombing of her joyous homecoming in October 2007, she went to several hospitals to visit those wounded in the attack on her truck.Neither her widower nor her children have demonstrated this kind of empathy. It’s true that her son and two daughters hardly know Pakistan or its poverty at first hand. To this extent, I can sympathise with young Bilawal for his reluctance to play a more active role. And I’m sure Zardari’s refusal to part with control over the PPP must have helped dissuade the inexperienced party chairman from plunging into the electoral battle.To expect Bilawal to lead the PPP to victory was always an illusion. But the figure who was finally handed the party banner turned out to be Rehman Malik, one of the least impressive ministers we have had in a long and undistinguished rogues’ gallery. He and his boss were part of the PPP’s problem, so they could hardly providea solution.We had all expected the PPP to get hammered for its incompetence and its corruption. But the scale of its defeat stunned even its worst enemies. From 97 seats to 31 is a very steep fall in our electoral calculus. Today, it stands reduced to being a provincial entity when it was once the only truly national political party.But before we write the PPP off, we should not forget that the poor need a party to represent them. Although its leadership lost contact with its base five years ago, this has generally been the case when it has been in power.The truth is that the PPP has always been more of a movement than a party, and it is in opposition that it has shone. We should never forget the role it has always played against military dictatorship.The question now is whether there is anybody who can revive it, or will the next five years in power in Sindh completely destroy whatever little credibility it has left? I’m sure Zardari is packing his bags; but even if he stays on (and out of jail), I doubt his ability to inspire demoralised party members.Another harsh judgment is that while Pakistan has moved on, the PPP’s message has remained stuck in its old groove. As its defeat in Punjab shows, Pakistan is now more urban, and its young population is more aspirational. It’s no longer about roti, kapra aur makan, but about jobs, education and security.Sadly, I see no PPP leader who even understands the problem his party faces, leave alone bringing about the changes so badly needed. email@example.com The rocky road ahead By Abbas Nasir A WEEK after a majority of the registered voters exercised their democratic right it is time for some reflection and to assess how the scenario will pan out. . What’s sticking like a sty in my eye right now is how the caretakers, the Election Commission and even the army are congratulating each other on the conduct of ‘peaceful’ elections and how they haven’t even said a word about those who weren’t allowed to campaign.The election day bombing of an ANP office in Karachi which killed nearly a dozen people was just one among a spate of incidents which claimed over 100 lives in a matter of weeks and should have served as a sobering thought for key state functionaries patting each other on the back. Of course, this isn’t to brush under the carpet misgovernance, corruption or a lackadaisical attitude towards lawlessness which would have weighed heavily against the incumbents anyway. But equally valid is the argument that the three secular parties were unable to take their case to the electorate.This isn’t to suggest this would have changed the outcome of the election but would have at least ensured a level playing field. Perhaps, even belatedly, those in positions of authority should say a prayer for all those who were killed by the Taliban for merely campaigning, for asserting their democratic right.Ironically, the critical state of the country and the mountains of challenges that lie across its path dictate that there isn’t much point in pondering the past, and to move on. Even those affected by the Taliban’s bloody ban on electioneering have accepted the result for, they say, democracy’s sake.So, what does the future look like? One indication came in a statement by PML-N MNA and negotiator Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, yes, the one who slew the change dragon in Lahore. “I can confirm we have a majority now but can’t give you exact numbers as people are joining every hour.”The results have yet to be notified but the PML-N’s stunning victory has led to a deluge of independent elected members joining the party — even small parties such as the National People’s Party whose leader has announced a merger with the Raiwind Royalty’s party.It is becoming clear that, short of constitutional amendments, the PML-N will have complete control to do as it pleases at the federal and Punjab level. This can only be good as success or failure will be clearly attributable to the policies and implementation of a single party and not a coalition muddle.Everyone lauded the maturity of Mian Nawaz Sharif in publicly stating that since the PTI emerged as the largest single party in KP its mandate should be respected. As a result, the conservative government there is likely to be stable, that is, till it falls foul of the PML-N.Balochistan is a different story. The PML-N’s contrived numerical superiority as elected members from the pool of independents and even the PML-Q rush to join it will give its chief minister’s candidate, Sanaullah Zehri, no more moral authority than his predecessor Aslam Raisani.If the PML-N leadership has really come of age it should ponder whether offering the chief minister’s slot to one of the Baloch nationalist parties will be in greater national interest. Admittedly, none of these nationalist parties would have secured a majority on its own given the political landscape.However, that these parties defied not only threats of retribution from armed separatists but also in some cases had to face up to the nastiness of those running election campaigns with as much impunity as they have allegedly run death squads, should amount to something.What greater demonstration to seeking a resolution of Balochistan’s issues within the confines of Pakistan’s Constitution and on the floor of the assemblies could there be? Surely, the state can reward their gesture better than by delaying, withholding and allegedly changing their results.So, a real test of statesmanship awaits the Sharifs but I doubt they’ll rise to the occasion on this one. If prominent nationalists are not in government, the PML-N chief minister will have to proactively control state excesses or Balochistan would be pushed further into the separatists’ lap.The Balochistan government formation story is yet to unfold fully. One can talk more definitively of Sindh. Whether Qaim Ali Shah is reinstalled as chief minister or it is Hazar Khan Bijarani or Nisar Khuhro or even Owais Tappi they all face the same challenge.Roads, infrastructure, development more generally and even provision of jobs (on merit and without seeking kickbacks from the poor unemployed) can all come later. The first and foremost priority for the Sindh government ought to be law and order particularly in Karachi.This must be the most dramatic failing of the last coalition; even more than the unending tales of corruption and price-tagged decisions. If the MQM is part of the new set-up as well, it is even more incumbent on the two to deliver a safe environment to their devoted voter.This is in their self-interest. As the statistics show, voter loyalty patterns are shifting at least in urban Sindh. And if a viable alternative appeared in the rural parts of the province, the current rulers can rest assured they’ll rapidly lose their traditional support in the absence of delivery.Also, the elected provincial government will ignore law and order at its own peril. With a central government belonging to a party which isn’t exactly enamoured of the warlord-like attitude of the Sindh coalition particularly in Karachi it can only speed to its sacking by repeating its past mistakes.For all the political parties, the electorate and the media the euphoria generated by an election campaign (even if all parties couldn’t participate equally or at all) will soon be a thing of the past — such is the daunting agenda that lies ahead. The writer is a former editor of Dawn.firstname.lastname@example.org To subscribe or unsubscribe to this mailing list, please fill the form located at: http://www.dawn.com/alerts DAWN Media Group, Haroon House, Karachi 74200, Pakistan Copyright © 2013 Pakistan Herald Publications (Pvt.)Ltd.