News / Asia

National Observers Note Irregularities in Pakistan Elections

Pakistani election staff count ballots at a polling station in Islamabad, May 11, 2013. Pakistani election staff count ballots at a polling station in Islamabad, May 11, 2013.
Pakistani election staff count ballots at a polling station in Islamabad, May 11, 2013.
Pakistani election staff count ballots at a polling station in Islamabad, May 11, 2013.
Sharon Behn
Pakistan’s Election Commission on Sunday endorsed the country’s landmark elections that will see the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power via the ballot box in the country's history. It declared the country’s elections for a new national assembly and government leadership as “largely free and fair.” But Pakistani non-governmental observers noted voting irregularities and terror attacks in parts of the country meant that not everyone’s voice was heard.

Free and Fair Election Network CEO Muddassir Rizvi says there were serious incidents of voting irregularities, fraud and intimidation in areas such as in the southern city of Karachi.

"In general, we are not questioning the legitimacy of the process in most parts of Pakistan except for certain constituencies in Karachi, and perhaps some constituencies in Baluchistan where the anti-election campaign was so active that in many instances the election commission could not even set up polling stations," said Rizvi.

The Election Commission said due to threats, the vote in 43 polling stations in the city would have to be re-held.

The FAFEN network deployed 41,000 observers across the country for the May 11 poll, including high-risk areas that international observers could not reach.  But the group said the level of terror threats in the northwestern tribal areas and the adjoining Khyber-Patunkhwa province made it difficult to determine how fair the elections were in those regions.

Prior to voting day, Taliban and other militant attacks killed more than 100 people, targeting political candidates and supporters of parties they perceived as secular and anti-Islamic.

Jinnah Institute director of policy and programs Raza Rumi says the attacks skewed the political playing field.

“Whatever happened, happened before the polls, because the Taliban had very clearly stated that they would not want the PPP,  the outgoing government, and the liberal ANP and MQM to form the next government or even to campaign, so they had severe campaign challenges.  They could not freely campaign.  There were only two parties that vigorously campaigned, Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League and Imran Khan’s PTI - so we can see the results, that you know, both these parties have done well," said Rumi.  

Initial, unofficial, results show veteran politician and two-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Party far in the lead, and Sharif looks set to lead the country once again.  Former cricketer Imran Khan’s party, that made its political debut in the elections, had a stronger than expected showing, and handed him a strong regional foothold, but not enough to challenge Sharif’s party.

Accountant Abdul Qadeer says although he did not vote for Sharif, he feels the elections were a success.

"I am proud that I casted my vote and that was the indication of my vote. My whole family voted. We voted for Imran Khan, but my full sympathies and full support is for Nawaz Sharif and he should come up and take this nation with him, and he should leave his faults in the previous governments and he should come up with new ideas and new things that will make us a proud nation," said Qadeer.

The challenges for any new government are considerable. Pakistan has a weak economy, major energy shortages, and powerful extremist and militant groups that the past government was unable to control

The hope appears to be that Sharif, a protégé of Pakistan’s powerful military until he challenged them and found himself in jail, will draw upon his past political experience to tackle these problems.

With expectations running high, Sharif and his party could quickly come under pressure to show effective leadership.

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Terry from: VI
May 12, 2013 1:35 PM
No wonder obama praised the election earlier today.

by: justinphilpot
May 12, 2013 1:26 PM
ain't our business, with draw you nose.

by: pr aguillen
May 12, 2013 1:14 PM
How can any other country take the USA serious about elections when there were was fraud in American elections when they voted for obummer

by: Truth will Prevail from: California
May 12, 2013 1:13 PM
Similar to the fraud we had in our elections in the do we really know that OBAMA is our true that we know his and the thugs that bought the IRS and other fraudulent organizations

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs