News / Asia

Polls in Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province Face Multiple Threats

Polls in Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province Face Multiple Threatsi
X
May 08, 2013 6:13 PM
The people of Pakistan’s Baluchistan province are caught in a crossfire of violence from separatist, ethnic, tribal and political conflicts. Sharon Behn reports from the provincial capital of Quetta, that the May 11 national elections are proving a tough challenge for candidates, security forces and voters alike
Sharon Behn
The people of Pakistan’s Baluchistan province are caught in a crossfire of violence from separatist, ethnic, tribal and political conflicts. The May 11 national elections are proving a tough challenge for candidates, security forces and voters alike.
 
In recent months in Baluchistan, multiple bomb and grenade attacks, shootings and threats of violence, have meant few large political rallies during campaign season.
 
A bomb blast earlier this year targeting Hazara Shi’ites left scores dead and wounded.
 
A bomb went off on this street in January, killing almost 85 people. It is a tense time here in Baluchistan with the elections about to happen. Police are trying to secure the streets and make sure the voters can get to the polling station.”
 
Candidates, like ethnic Hazara leader Abdul Khaliq Hazara, who narrowly escaped that attack, say they are being threatened daily.
 
“I want to tell you only one thing: that we cannot move properly here in the clear," said Hazara. "Still I think there is complete uncertainty. We are running our election campaigning under the shadow of terror.”

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
Despite the deployment of 70,000 security forces for the vote, the situation is too risky for EU poll observers. But Quetta police chief Mir Zubair Mehmood says authorities are doing their best to protect candidates and voters.
 
“There is [a] problem, but as far as the elections are concerned, all resources pooled to make sure the election process is held in a fair, free and proper manner, and maximum security, which state can provide should be provided not only to the people but the candidates as well," said Mehmood.
 
Despite those assurances, expectations are low.
 
Chief secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad says turnout in Baluchistan was just 30 percent, in 2008.
 
“So, in terms of percentage, I would be very happy if we are, let’s say, equal the last elections turnout, that would be very decent," said Muhammad.
 
Baluch nationalists boycotted the last polls, but returned to campaigning this year to gain influence in the central government. Now they are targeted by separatist Baluch militants who are rejecting the poll and using text messages and letters to threaten voters.
 
Naimatullah Gichki, a senior member of a Baluch party, the National Party, says although many people are scared, any turnout is important.
 
“We cannot get out of our houses, our people go in the house and hold the [political] meetings, corner meetings, for instance, their houses, there are bomb blasts there and fires against them. I know it’s very tough. The results we don’t care. Whatever the results we must get some representation," said Gichki.
                                                    
As the campaign head into the final days, the Baluchistan vote is becoming a contest between those who believe in participating in the political process - and those who reject it.

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

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