News / Asia

Pakistani Elections: High Security, Strong Turnout

A Pakistani paramilitary soldier checks voters before they enter a polling station to cast their ballots, in Karachi, Pakistan, May 11, 2013.
A Pakistani paramilitary soldier checks voters before they enter a polling station to cast their ballots, in Karachi, Pakistan, May 11, 2013.
Sharon Behn
Polls have closed in most areas in Pakistan, in historic elections that will bring about a transition from one civilian administration that finished a full term in office to another civilian administration.

Voters went to the polls Saturday to choose a new national assembly and four provincial assemblies. Army and police were on standby to prevent any major attacks after weeks of election-related violence killed more than a hundred people. Scattered incidents of violence killed at least 14 people on Saturday, but overall observers report voting went smoothly.    

Voters predicted record turnouts in Pakistan’s national elections, as hundreds of people from wealthy to poorer neighborhoods alike lined up outside their local polling stations determined to cast their votes.
 
The elections mark the first time in the country's history that a civilian government has finished its term and handed over power to another civilian government via the ballot box.
 
For decades, Pakistan has been ruled either by the military or its two main parties, the outgoing Pakistan People’s Party, and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz led by veteran politician Nawaz Sharif.
 
Pakistani supporters of former cricket star-turned-politician, and leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Imran Khan, ride a car decorated with his Khan's pictures, near a polling station in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, May 11, 2013.Pakistani supporters of former cricket star-turned-politician, and leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Imran Khan, ride a car decorated with his Khan's pictures, near a polling station in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, May 11, 2013.
x
Pakistani supporters of former cricket star-turned-politician, and leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Imran Khan, ride a car decorated with his Khan's pictures, near a polling station in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, May 11, 2013.
Pakistani supporters of former cricket star-turned-politician, and leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Imran Khan, ride a car decorated with his Khan's pictures, near a polling station in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, May 11, 2013.
But this time, Pakistani politician and former cricketer Imran Khan entered the fray with his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf or PTI party, vowing to change the system.
 
His message has resonated with many here, such as university student and first-time voter Noor Ul Aein.

 “This is the first time that I believe that we have hope, and we need a miracle, and I hope whatever happens, happens for the best, because we really do need a miracle," said Noor Ul Aein. "Since I have been born I have been hearing bad things, suppression, depressions in the economy, everything so I think we really need a miracle right now and we have hope, and we have hope this time, we really do. Vote for change and vote for “naya” (new) Pakistan.”

Standing in line to cast his vote in a mud brick neighborhood with the occasional goat walking by, Muhammad Farhan said the country’s new leaders will have their work cut out for them.

“Obviously there are lots of challenges because we have not been performing good as a nation, as in economics, as in law and order," said Farhan. "The biggest challenge would be law and order, and then the economic conditions, which must be improved.”

Militants and extremists from the northwestern tribal areas down to the commercial city of Karachi repeatedly bomb and attack civilians and security forces in Pakistan.

An army soldier stands with a police officer in front of a damaged Pakistan People's Party (PPP) election campaign office after a bomb blast, in Quetta, May 10, 2013.An army soldier stands with a police officer in front of a damaged Pakistan People's Party (PPP) election campaign office after a bomb blast, in Quetta, May 10, 2013.
x
An army soldier stands with a police officer in front of a damaged Pakistan People's Party (PPP) election campaign office after a bomb blast, in Quetta, May 10, 2013.
An army soldier stands with a police officer in front of a damaged Pakistan People's Party (PPP) election campaign office after a bomb blast, in Quetta, May 10, 2013.
In the run-up to the elections they turned their anger to party candidates and supporters, killing more than 100 and injuring scores more.

Pakistan’s police were out in force to protect voters Saturday, and the army was placed on standby in the country’s most violent areas.

But many people, such as university student Kanza Shakeel and her family in the bomb-targeted city of Quetta, ignored the threats of violence and came out to cast their ballots. She said her whole family would stay up all night to hear the results of this landmark election.

“My family all, my relatives also here today, we are sitting in front of TV, and eating lunch, dinner, everything in front of TV, and just hearing news, nothing else, we are just hearing news, and we are just waiting to get good news,” said Shakeel.

Pre-election polling indicated former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his party were the front runners, with Imran Khan’s PTI a close second.

You May Like

Photogallery US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid