News / Asia

    In Pakistan's Northwest, Voters Brave Threats to Cast Ballots

    A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in Peshawar May 11, 2013.A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in Peshawar May 11, 2013.
    x
    A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in Peshawar May 11, 2013.
    A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in Peshawar May 11, 2013.
    Ayaz Gul
    The lead up to Pakistan’s historic election is being described as the most violent in the country’s history, and the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has been the hardest hit. But the violence has not discouraged voters from showing up at polling stations across the region.
     
    Despite fears of fresh attacks by Taliban extremists long lines of men and women began to form even before polling stations opened across Peshawar. Residents in what is known as Pakistan's most conservative region described the crowds as unprecedented.
     
    This has led to expectations of a high turnout in the province that has been at the forefront of Pakistan’s decade-long anti-terrorism campaign. The region has borne the brunt of retaliatory militant violence and is adjacent to the country’s volatile tribal regions, where the Taliban and other extremist groups are well-entrenched.
     
    But voters say they are less bothered by the threat from militants than the performance of their province’s former ruling Awami National Party.
     
    Shaguftta Khalique was optimistic after casting her ballot at a crowded polling station in Peshawar's Hayatabad residential area. She said she hopes a high turnout will put pressure on future rulers to deliver on their election promises.
     
    “We see that there is going to be a bigger turnout this time. Maybe no party gets the majority but, again, whosoever will come to the [legislative] assembly will try to avoid the mistakes which were done in the previous government.”
     
    The Khan factor

    Waiting for his turn outside a polling station in a central part of Peshawar, shopkeeper Nisar Ahmed says he intends to cast his vote for cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s political party.
     
    Ahmed says power cuts, gas shortages, corruption and other such issues are the main worries of the population, and the previous rulers could not offer any solution while in power for five years. He says Imran Khan may not be able to solve these problems quickly but voters are fed up with traditional political parties.
     
    Another voter at the station, Nadeem Afridi, also rejected claims of former rulers that they will end the power cuts - known as load-shedding - if they are voted into office again.
     
    He said, “if they could not end the load-shedding when they were in government they are cheating us when they say they will do it now.”
     
    Many here say the charisma and potential of the 60-year-old Khan is the driving force behind the crowds at the polling stations.
     
    Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party has also emerged as a leading force in the province in recent months - possibly mirroring growing support nationwide. The world-famous former athlete appeals mostly to young urban male and female voters because of his calls for revamping the traditional political system. His staunch opposition to U.S. drone strikes in nearby tribal districts and his calls for peaceful talks with the Pakistani Taliban have also won him significant support in this region.
     
    Election authorities had ordered political parties to end their campaigns by midnight Thursday. But Friday night, Khan’s supporters, mostly youngsters riding vehicles and motorbikes decorated with party flags and pictures, rallied on the streets of Peshawar.
     
    Activists and leaders of former ruling Awami National Party or ANP say they were not able to campaign freely in the run-up to the polls because Taliban insurgents targeted their rallies and candidates. Many of those killed in the violence ahead of the polls were members of the party.
     
    The Taliban claimed responsibility for most of these attacks, seen as punishment of the ANP apparently for its secular views and for backing military offensives against militants in districts, including the scenic Swat valley in the province.
     
    ANP leaders dismiss allegations of poor governance and are confident they will emerge as winners in Saturday’s polls.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: MUSTAFA from: PAKISTAN
    May 12, 2013 2:08 AM
    Pakistani done their job very well in spite of so many casualties during this election. This election full of Blood in the history of Pakistan. Now this is the duty of Winners to serve Poor Pakistani with honesty and not like THIVES. They should try their level best to solve small problems as quick as possible. I know the accumulated problems of FIVE YEARS cannot be solved over night but at least choose the right path to solve these outstanding issues on an urgent basis.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora