Thursday, May 16, 2013

Asfandyar vows to reclaim ANP's terror-torn mandate

Accepting Awami National Party's (ANP) whitewash in Election 2013, Asfandyar Wali Khan Thursday said his party had preferentially settled on manning the Opposition benches in all the houses, Geo News reported. Addressing a press conference here, he vowed to reclaim the mandate, which, according to him, was snatched by "terrorism" in Khyber Pkahtunkhwa. "Pre-poll attacks on ANP corner meetings was a conspiracy to keep us out of the electoral process, which eventually made it impossible for ANP to connect with its voters. I can say it became one of the causes of our defeat", said an emotional Wali. He said the most unfortunate thing that dawned upon us in the light of a myriad of evidence was how the terrorists pulled the strings in the polls. "In the beginning we believed Chief Election Commissioner, Fakhruddin G Ibrahim, was the referee of this match (elections), but now evidence shows it was Hakimullah Mehsud who called the shots in the stead of the former", said he. He said how could you fight your opponent if you were thrown in the arena with your hands tied. Wali also announced to constitute a committee to investigate as to why the most popular political party of KPK tanked on its turf. Top ANP leadership was also present on the occasion.

Imran’s ‘Naya Pakistan’ begins with handing over KP Edu Ministry to JI

In a shocking development for many people banking on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's slogan of 'Naya Pakistan', the PTI has decided to give the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) the provincial ministries of Finance, Education and Ushr and Zakat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after a deal was reached between the two parties on forming the government in the province. The announcement to this effect was made by JI Secretary Information Anwar Niazi following a meeting between JI chief Munawwar Hassan and PTI Chairman Imran Khan at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital on Wednesday. Hasan, along with JI General Secretary Liaquat Baloch and other party members, called on Khan to enquire after his health and discuss the formation of government in KP. After the meeting, Hassan told reporters that as per initial negotiations, the JI will be given three ministries under one senior minister. He had then said that the details of the portfolios which will be allotted to the JI will be announced by Imran Khan later. The news of the JI getting the Finance and Education portfolios in KP disappointed PTI supporters across the country and evoked criticism of the party’s decision as Imran Khan had centred his election campaign on promises of bringing the education system at par with international standards. Political observers said the PTI’s decision to give the two most important ministries to the JI would reflect negatively on the party’s slogan of ‘Naya Pakistan’ as not much change was expected from the rightwing JI. “It’s appalling that Imran has ceded Education Ministry to can now expect content in KP syllabi which would further foment extremism and hatred,” said a commentator. - See more at:

‘PPP to monitor progress on Gwadar Port, Iran gas projects’

Pakistan People’s Party leader Raza Rabbani has said that the PPP would closely monitor progress on Gwadar Port and Pak-Iran gas projects while sitting on the opposition benches in the National Assembly. Announcing seven-point agenda of the party at the Karachi Press Club, the PPP stalwart said that his party would monitor government’s policies regarding economy, IMF package, prices control, job opportunities and firing of government employees. He said that health and education sectors had been transferred to the provinces and the PPP would not allow the government to centralize them. Rabbani said that provinces had the right over 50 percent of their resources. He said that there was no mention of anti-terrorism policy in Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz manifesto while it would also have to clarify its policy regarding withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. He said that the PPP would also monitor as to how the PML-materialized its claims to overcome power crisis.

Pakistan: The unfairness of ‘free and fair’ elections

May 11, 2013 is a date that will be set in Pakistan history as the first election that was held on time after the completion of the five-year tenure of a democratically elected government. The Election Day was not just highly anticipated by the old electorate, it was a very significant occasion for a large chunk of the population comprising of the youth who emerged as the new voters, symbolising the hope people have in the power of the vote to effect change. One party whose main slogan was a New Pakistan, and whose main electoral strength was its young, first time voters was the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, and the power of this phenomenon, along with the regular electorate gave Pakistan a new milestone. For the first time in living memory, the voter turnout was said to be at 60 percent, which is almost double that of the last election. The announced result, which puts Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz as the victor with its 124 seats, has more or less guaranteed its ability to form the government in the Centre and in Punjab, which should discourage the undesirable practice of horse-trading. Everything is not hunky dory though. The allegations of massive rigging across Pakistan have increasingly taken on the resonance of the common demand of many parties, especially the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, to the Election Commission of Pakistan to initiate investigations into all cases of alleged rigging. Albeit the result may not be affected to the extent that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz would lose its majority, it is still imperative that having been approached through thousands of complaints of cheating and other irregularities, the Election Commission of Pakistan takes notice and orders inquiries and investigations. The false balloting, stuffing of boxes with bogus votes, rigged counting, and the partisan attitude of the polling officers towards the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz are a few of the allegations being levelled against the winner, and it is something that needs to be noted/investigated without further ado. One of the most vehement complaints is against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Khwaja Saad Rafiq, who allegedly barged into women’s polling stations in the S-Sector of DHA, Lahore in NA-125, and harassed the opponent’s staff as well as the voters. The PTI chief Imran Khan has demanded re-counting in 25 constituencies, and this number is too big to be dismissed as a mere lament of grapes being sour by the runner-up. The allegations against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s manipulation of polling in certain constituencies in Karachi are of a more serious nature, as the methods said to have been used are criminal. The caretaker government’s inability to stop the Election Day irregularities — the appointment of whose setup was endorsed by the MQM after its very public departure from the government and parking itself on the Opposition benches at the Centre and in Sindh right on the eve of the elections — is a big black mark on the so-called neutrality of the caretakers. While no state institution seems to be involved in the outcome of the election, it is about time — before the peaceful protest turn into uglier shows of rejection of the election results — that the Election Commission of Pakistan under the very able guidance of Mr Fakhruddin G Ebrahim in an objective, non-partisan manner investigate thoroughly the ugly truth of what is behind the façade of the ‘free and fair’ elections. The failure to do so would be a black mark on the credibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan, which is already being criticised for its less than satisfactory performance on the Election Day.