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Pinning hopes on democracy

Pinning hopes on democracy
Highlights

In a ballot Vs bullet battle, Pakistanis choose to show their vote is supreme Elections in Pakistan have traditionally registered low turnouts and...

In a ballot Vs bullet battle, Pakistanis choose to show their vote is supreme Elections in Pakistan have traditionally registered low turnouts and only 44 per cent of the electorate voted in the last polls in 2008. But this time, though the run-up to the general elections saw over 100 people being killed by militants led by Taliban and some extreme A Islamist forces, leaders as well as people stood up to the grave threats of anti-democratic forces and stood one as a nation to chalk out a bright future. This was clearly evident in the massive turnout on Saturday
The powerful troika of Pak polity
Nawaz Sharif: The head of the main opposition party in recent years, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, is considered the front runner in the election and hopes to become prime minister for the third time. His party, which appeals to a pro-business base and is strongest in central Punjab province, is considered the main rival to the Pakistan People's Party to form the next government. Sharif was ousted as prime minister in a bloodless coup in 1999 by then-army chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf and was sent into exile the following year. He returned to Pakistan in 2007 to lead his party in the 2008 elections, which was won by the PPP.
Imran Khan: A Pakistani cricket legend-turned-politician who could have a significant impact on the vote. He founded Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or the Movement for Justice Party, more than 15 years ago, but failed to gain much traction until 2011. That year he marked his rise as a major political player with a rally that drew more than 100,000 people in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province. Khan has appealed to a largely young, urban constituency tired with the current crop of politicians and the corruption that plagues the system. It's unclear whether he can win enough seats to form the next government, or simply steal key votes from the PML-N and the PPP, especially in Punjab. That could affect who wins. He could win more votes out of sympathy after a freak accident this week at a political rally in which he fell 4.5 meters (15 feet) off a forklift, fracturing three vertebrae and a rib.
President Asif Ali Zardari:
The president rode to power on a wave of sympathy following the 2007 assassination of his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, but his tenure has been turbulent and he has long been plagued by allegations of corruption. Zardari is not running in Saturday's vote but as a former head of the Pakistan People's Party, which led the last government, he is a central figure in the party's electoral future. His unpopularity and anger over the performance of the government during its five-year term is likely to hurt the party's chances in the vote. The economy is stuttering, energy shortages plague the country and Taliban continue to stage deadly attacks.
Sharif slammed over interview to IBN
Assures probe into ISI role in 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks New Delhi: A controversy erupted in Pakistan over an interview given by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to CNN-IBN. Sharif, tipped to be the next PM of Pakistan, made the statements during an interview to Karan Thapar on Devil's Advocate. Excerpts: 
Karan Thapar: David Headley who gave evidence in America, in a American court to American investigators, has given names like Major Sami Ali, Major Iqbal who he says are ISI officers. He's talked about how the ISI gave 25,000 dollars to Headley, how the ISI provided naval divers, how the ISI gave LeT financial, military and naval support. If you become Prime Minister, will you ensure that this sort of thing stops, that the ISI is no longer responsible for carrying out terror and that those people who have done it are also brought to book. Nawaz Sharif: If he is given such a statement, I think we need to first verify the facts of the statement. I have read those statements, they appeared in the press sometime ago and lately there have been nothing on that issue. But some months ago I read that. But how far these statements are true will have to be seen. Karan Thapar: So you will carry out a credible investigation? Nawaz Sharif: I think such situations certainly need an investigation including the one which happened in Kargil. I think an inquiry commission will also be held on Kargil as well. Karan Thapar: To check into not just General Musharraf but all the other four generals whose name came up at that time for being responsible for Kashmir, that will also happen. Nawaz Sharif: Obviously. Obviously. Karan Thapar: So you will bring out the full truth of Kargil. Nawaz Sharif: I think commissions will have to bring out the full truth. Karan Thapar: And will you share it with the Indian government? Nawaz Sharif: I think it will be an open secret.
Will Imran shake up Pak politics this time?
Julie McCarthy After retiring as Pakistan's most celebrated cricket player, Imran Khan has dabbled on the margins of Pakistani politics for nearly two decades, trying to make a mark. The sportsman turned philanthropist who led a playboy lifestyle in his younger days has attracted endless media attention, but until now neither he nor his movement has had any real impact. As Pakistanis vote in a crucial parliamentary election on Saturday, could this time be different? Watching Khan in the final stretch of the race is to see a man who found it impossible to stop campaigning. His critics have called him a political dilettante in the past, but he now seemed addicted to the center of the political arena as the bluejean- and T-shirt-clad youth of the country mobilized behind him and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or PTI, party. He has benefited as discontent with the traditional political elite has begun to boil over. The former national cricket team captain looked supremely confident in the final weeks of the campaign, relishing the throngs of supporters and sparring with television anchors. At age 60, Khan is still fit enough to put in six appearances a day, outpacing paunchier rivals. Sometimes he showed up for interviews drenched in sweat after a run. So when Khan fell from an improvised forklift on Tuesday , his bodyguards losing their balance and taking him tumbling with them, it was a long hard fall that cut short his final sprint. But as he fell, the nation rose in sympathy, signaling that his campaign has created a third force in Pakistani politics that may have changed the dynamic of Saturday's election. Columnist Kamran Shafi wrote in the Tribune Express today that "despite the fact that I think Imran Khan will be an unmitigated disaster in a position of authority ... it was heart-stopping to see him fall from the forklift." As doctors ordered Khan immobilized after he fractured a rib and damaged three vertebrae, he still could not resist one final appearance in the twilight of the campaign. Via video link from his hospital bed, Khan made a last attempt to woo voters. Millions of Pakistanis watched on TV as Khan, in a neck brace, appealed to the conservative northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to ensure that women � thousands of whom were barred from voting by political parties in the 2008 election � show up at the polling stations. Two traditional parties have traded power, ping-pong fashion, over the years.The Pakistan Muslim League, led by two-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is expected to get the most votes. Sharif's power base is the vote-rich province of the Punjab, which controls more than half of the seats in Parliament. The Pakistan People's Party, which was led by Benazir Bhutto before she was killed in 2007, has led the country for the past five years. Its fortunes have waned with the country's many troubles, and the PPP held no large rallies to mobilize supporters.
Key events in Pak political history
  • Aug. 14, 1947: Pakistan is founded when British rule over the region ends and the Asian subcontinent is partitioned into Islamic Pakistan, divided into East and West, and predominantly Hindu India.
  • Sept. 11, 1948: Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah dies.
  • Oct. 16, 1951: Pakistan's first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, assassinated in gun attack, triggering political instability.
  • Oct. 27, 1958: Pakistani army chief Mohammed Ayub Khan seizes power.
  • March 25, 1969: After months of opposition rioting in West and East Pakistan, Mohammed Ayub Khan hands over power to army chief Gen. Yahya Khan.
  • Dec. 7, 1970: East Pakistan-based Awami League wins general elections. In response, Yahya Khan suspends the government, triggering widespread rioting in East Pakistan. Civil war breaks out in the wake of army action.
  • Dec. 16, 1971: Pakistan troops surrender in East Pakistan after India's intervention in the civil war. East Pakistan becomes independent Bangladesh.
  • Dec. 20, 1971: Yahya Khan resigns, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto becomes president. A parliamentary system of government is adopted later, and Bhutto becomes prime minister.
  • July 5, 1977: Pakistani army chief Zia ul-Haq seizes power.
  • April 4, 1979: Bhutto hanged after Supreme Court upholds his death sentence on charges of conspiracy to murder and Zia rejects his mercy petition.
  • Aug. 17, 1988: Zia dies in a mysterious plane crash.
  • Dec. 2, 1988: Bhutto's daughter Benazir becomes Pakistan's first woman prime minister.
  • Aug. 6, 1990: Ms. Bhutto's government dismissed amid charges of corruption and mismanagement.
  • Nov. 1, 1990: Nawaz Sharif becomes prime minister following election.
  • April 18, 1993: President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismisses Sharif's government on corruption charges but the Supreme Court revokes the order and reinstates Sharif.
  • July 18, 1993: Due to serious differences between President Khan and Prime Minister Sharif, then-army chief Gen. Waheed Kakar forces both to resign.
  • S Oct. 19, 1993: Ms. Bhutto becomes prime minister for a second time following elections.
  • Nov. 5, 1996: Ms. Bhutto again dismissed amid renewed charges of corruption and incompetence by her own party president Farooq Leghari.
  • Feb. 17, 1997: Sharif becomes prime minister for a second time after elections. Ms. Bhutto goes into self-imposed exile to avoid prosecution in corruption cases.
  • Oct. 12, 1999: Army chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf ousts Sharif in a bloodless coup after the prime minister tries to sack the general. Sharif exiled after court convicts him of conspiracy against Musharraf.
  • Nov. 21, 2002: Zafarullah Jamali becomes prime minister after pro-Musharraf parties win election.
  • Aug. 23, 2004 Shaukat Aziz elected prime minister after Jamali resigns due to differences with Musharraf.
  • Oct. 5, 2007: Musharraf issues a controversial ordinance protecting officials from past corruption charges as part of a deal that paves the way for Ms. Bhutto and Sharif to return home.
  • Oct. 18, 2007: Bhutto returns
  • Nov. 3, 2007: Musharraf declares state of emergency and sacks the chief justice of the Supreme Court, trigger a nationwide protest movement led by lawyers that weakens his grip on power.
  • S Nov. 25, 2007: Sharif returns home from exile.
  • Dec. 27, 2007: Ms. Bhutto assassinated in a gun and bomb attack.
  • March 25, 2008: Yousuf Raza Gilani becomes prime minister.
  • Aug. 18, 2008: Musharraf resigns from presidency under pressure from main political parties.
  • Sept. 6, 2008: Asif Ali Zardari, elected president.
  • June 19, 2012: Supreme Court disqualifies Prime Minister Gilani for refusing to reopen old corruption case against the president.
  • June 22, 2012: Raja Pervez Ashraf becomes prime minister.
  • March 16, 2013: Pakistan People's Party government reaches historic milestone by completing its full five-year term.
  • March 24, 2013: Mir Hazar Khan Khoso appointed as caretaker PM
  • May 11, 2013: Elections will mark the first time a civilian government has completed its full five-year term and transferred power in democratic elections.
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