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Post Pakistan Elections
Created by John Eipper on 05/21/13 4:16 AM

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Pakistan Elections (John Recchiuti, USA, 05/21/13 4:16 am)

It's hard to know what to say about the 11 May elections here in Pakistan that hasn't been already neatly reported in the press.

At Quaid-i-Azam University, where I am presently working with faculty and graduate students in the Area Studies Program, and at the United States Educational Foundation of Pakistan offices (House #5, Street 17, Sector F 6-2, Islamabad), there is still animated talk of the elections. Many tales. At a few polling stations, apparently more than 100% of the vote was cast; on Sunday there was re-voting in some polling districts in Karachi. Three days ago the vice president of PTI (Imran Khan's political party) was assassinated. Curiously enough, on the English-language PTV station (Pakistan Television), her assassination was about the sixth story reported, after a variety of somewhat mundane news stories, and then it was reported calmly, and with evident effort not to animate passions. I think that PTV (channel 4 here in Islamabad) is often a very good station, but it is also rather desperate to give an air of "all is normal; all is well."

There is much talk of the election results by the people I'm spending time with. Analysis of individual candidates' results, party gossip, conjecture today about an ill-defined "outside" influence on the elections in Balochistan and in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), with some (I thought) rather vague idea that the "outside influences" (and just how they purportedly influenced the result seemed truly unclear) might have come from either the US, Oman, or the UAE... and a few other places were mentioned. I suggested in the conversation at the University that this was, I thought, very unlikely. But some faculty rejoined that there are real reasons that some states, for example, seek to keep Baluchistan from developing its natural resources or its transportation infrastructure.

In all, people I have talked with seem pleased that the election has resulted in a practical majority for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Some say that Nawaz Sharif, because he is a businessman, will bring advances in the economy, increased trade with India, and more.

As you will know, the New York Times correspondent Declan Walsh was expelled from Pakistan the day before the 11 May election. But he wrote a wonderful front-page story on Pakistan in the Saturday edition:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/world/asia/pakistans-railroads-sum-up-nations-woes.html

JE comments:  It's a treat to receive this front-line report on Pakistan's historic elections.  A question for John Recchiuti:  have there been any reports of post-election unrest?  

Best of luck to John during the final week of his Fulbright exchange in Islamabad.


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