News / Asia

Pakistan Voters Head to Polls in Landmark Elections

Pakistan Voters Head to Polls in Landmark Electionsi
X
May 10, 2013 5:28 PM
Pakistan will hold landmark elections on Saturday, marking the first time in this country’s volatile history that a civilian government transfers power to another via the ballot box. Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad that despite threats and violence, many voters are determined to use their votes to bring about change to their country.
Pakistan Voters Head to Polls in Landmark Elections
Sharon Behn
Pakistan is holding landmark elections Saturday, marking the first time in this country’s volatile history that a civilian government transfers power to another via the ballot box. Despite threats and violence, many voters are determined to use their votes to bring about change to their country.
 
The nationwide poll for a new national assembly and government leadership follows the bloodiest election campaign in Pakistan’s history. For weeks, militants and extremists bombed, shot at, killed, kidnapped and threatened political candidates and supporters in an attempt to derail a vote they call un-Islamic.
 
Despite the violence, student leader Muneer Jalib Baloch said people in Quetta are determined use the ballot to end the province’s separatist militancy.

What's at Stake?

  • Voters choose members of the National Assembly, or lower house parliament
  • 342 seats, 60 are reserved for women, 10 are reserved for religious minorities
  • Seats are distributed by region:
    Federally Administered Tribal Area -  12 seats
    Federal Capital, Islamabad - 2 seats
    Punjab Province - 183 seats
    Sindh Province - 75 seats
    Khyber Pakhtunkhaw Province -  43 seats
    Baluchistan Province - 17 seats

  • Voters also electing members of four provincial assemblies
“We don’t want the politics of guns, we can’t say if supporters of militancy will increase or decrease," he noted, " but our political efforts for the May 11 elections have received a great response because people have lost their loved ones. These issues will be resolved by the new government with our representatives there, God willing.”

The election front runner is Nawaz Sharif, 64, a veteran politician who served twice as prime minister and heads the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party.

"God willing, when your fate changes, then the destiny of the nation will also change," Sharif told supporters. "Young men, you are the architects of the future. The green flag of Pakistan is in your hands. Do not let it bend down."
 
Main Political Parties Fielding Candidates
  • Pakistan Peoples Party or PPP
  • Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz or PML-N
  • Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-i-Azam) or PML-Q
  • Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf or PTI

Regional and Ethnic Parties
  • Muttahida Quami Movement or MQM
  • Awami National Party or ANP
  • Baluchistan National Party (Mengal)
  • National Party

Religious Political Parties
  •  Jamaat-i-Islami (JI)
  • Jamiat Ulema Islam (Fazlur Rehman) or JUI-F.
Sharif is critical of Pakistan’s powerful military. He has vowed to root out corruption and favors peace talks with the Pakistan Taliban.
 
Running a close second is the party of cricket star turned politician, Imran Khan, who has broad support among youth and those fed up with the main political parties from the last government.

"I was given a chance by God to serve my nation," Khan told voters. " Now it's your turn to change your life. On the 11th think only about the country. If you want to change your and your children's fate you have to fight. You have to decide whether you want to go on like this or whether you want to make a new Pakistan."
 
Khan’s fall from a makeshift elevated stage during a political rally and his speech to the nation from his hospital bed has rallied many undecided voters to his side.
 
Analyst Muddassir Rizvi said despite support for figures like Sharif and Khan, political divisions in Pakistan make it unlikely that any one party will win a majority in the national assembly.
 
“A split parliament will mean a long, dragged out transition of power; a party who is expecting more seats getting less seats may yield post-election incidents that may turn violent - we cannot predict,”  Rizvi said.
 
Whatever government comes out of these elections, it will have an uphill battle to meet the people’s expectations for an end to Pakistan’s considerable economic, social, and militant problems.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: MUSTAFA from: PAKISTAN
May 10, 2013 11:34 PM
God given Pakistan so much that we cannot count, for which we are grateful to God. We just lack good leader ship from the begining after departure of Quaide Azam and Liaqat Ali in 48 & 51. We pray to God to give us good,honest,dedicated and hard work Govt to save us from unlimited problems.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs