Saturday, May 4, 2013

Taliban vs. Pakistan in Elections 2013

Have Taliban succeeded in dividing Pakistan along regional, ideological and political lines?

Does Pakistan have a strategy to deal with the Taliban?

Can Gen Kayani help develop such a strategy after his recent speech discussing whose war is it?

Can Pakistani judges be fair to Musharraf?

Why was Sarabjit Singh brutally murdered in Pakistani jail?

Watch Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discuss answers to these questions with Sabahat Ashraf, Ali Hasan Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq.

Taliban's strategy in Pakistani elections; Musharraf's Life Ban; Sarabjit's Murder in Pakistani Jail from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Who Will Win Pakistan Elections 2013? Imran Khan's Fall and Ali Haider Gilani's abduction. from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Musharraf's Treason Trial

General Kayani's Speech on Terror War Ownership

Impact of Youth Vote and Taliban Violence on Elections 2013

Imran Khan's Social Media Campaign

Pakistan Elections 2013 Predictions 

Why is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?

Viewpoint From Overseas-Vimeo 

Viewpoint From Overseas-Youtube 

Pakistani Media Profit From Elections


Anonymous said...

I am dreading the day PMLN comes to power. The compromises it has made to keep punjab safe from terrorist groups like taleban, laskar a janghvi and others will be extended to other parts of Pakistan. It will be a real sad day for minorities and shia population especially. PTI if it comes to power will soon realise its mistake of keeping quiet to gain votes. Imran will soon realise his follies and being a honest and clean man will resign and will likely retire from politics or will be forced to leave the country. The day learned lawyers showered rose petals on qadri the murderer I knew Pakistan was descending into endless chaos. For if learned men support or are forced to support terrorism what can we expect from common man? We need to today raise our voice against terrorism in every forum or lose our country to extremists from where our return to peace and prosperity looks immpossible. Thanks mr. Riaz for always being there for us Pakistanis during this crucial time.

Farhan said...


1-Go into dialogue with talibans and peace deals(temporary and risky but possible within a very short time)

2-Seal the border with afghanistan,expel all the afghan refugees,once this is done,go for a massive operation.
if the border with afghanistan is sealed off and a massive operation is taken out i am sure within 3 months we will be off from Govt of karzai support TTP..

NOTE:Most important steps include sealing of border with afghanistan,
suspended all kind of ties with afghanistan
suspend the flow line of supply to afghanistan permanently

Riaz Haq said...

Farhan: "-Go into dialogue with talibans and peace deals(temporary and risky but possible within a very short time)"

You can not negotiate with the Talibs from the current position of weakness; it'll only encourage their bad behavior and the killing of more innocents. Negotiations are only possible after the Taliban have been militarily weakened to the point of agreeing to stop attacks.

Anonymous said...

Liberal/Secular V Conservative/mini-Taliban #Elections2013 D-Day.
It is up to us to decide the fate & future of #Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a Guardian story on feudal candidates in Pak Elections 2013:

For many years, like many other Pakistani aristocrats or "feudals" as they are known locally, Shahabuddin could simply rely on his name and status to bring in votes. The southern Punjab – one of the most impoverished parts of south Asia – has been run by major landowners for centuries. The loyalty of thousands of families used to be unquestioning. Also, as a direct descendant of one of the missionaries who converted the local population to Islam more than 700 years ago, Shahabuddin is revered as a spiritual leader with powers of blessing that can heal illnesses, solve problems and bring fortune.

But now economic development, marginally better education and a generally less deferential culture – reinforced by Pakistan's vibrant, often vitriolic media – mean history and status are no longer enough to win over the 150,000 voters of national assembly seat 194.

"People are simply interested in what they can get. It's all about being on the winning side and you can't have principles or ideologies if that's your only aim," said Shahabuddin's nephew, who is campaigning for simultaneous provincial polls. "It's not as simple as getting development funds for a community. And nor does getting the electricity connected or a road or a bridge built necessarily guarantee votes. It's personal relationships which ensure continued support."

This is where the semi-secret meetings play their crucial role. Cash is not involved. There is nothing illegal. But politics in Pakistan is about a cascade of favours from the most powerful patrons – in this case the ex-cabinet minister candidate – to the lowest – a small trader, bureaucrat, cleric or farmer who is influential in a street or village. Loyalty – expressed in the form of votes – flows back up....

Anonymous said...

If PML-N comes to power for sure Pakistan is going to descend into chaos and fear. Nawaz Sharif has already given hints of reconsidering fighting war against terror. Minorities will have to live in fear who make up 20% of Pakistan. Moderates will be forced into keeping quiet. Saudi will dictate terms. Relations with Iran will turn sour. Economically we'll be more reliant on Saudi and thus more extremist form of Islam. SORRY BUT I DONT WANT TO BE PART OF THIS CHAOS AND FEAR.

Hopewins said...

^^FARHAN: "...Seal the border with afghanistan..... NOTE: Most important steps include sealing of border with afghanistan...."

It is nearly impossible to seal the border between Pashuntkhwa & Afghanistan.

Look at the physical map of our country:

The borders of or Balochistan with Afghanistan and Iran can be "sealed" because they are relatively 'flat'.

The border of our Pashtunkhwa with Afghanistan passes through the peaks of the soaring Hindu Koh mountains.

Borders like that are very difficult to patrol and almost impossible to seal.

Therefore, the "inter-Pashtun" border between Afghanistan and our country will ALWAYS remain porous and unregulated, no matter what we do.

Please rethink your plan in light of this consideration.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AP report on fishermen's seaborne rally near Karachi:

KARACHI, Pakistan -- Wearing life jackets and bobbing on the gentle waves of the Arabian Sea, supporters of a candidate in Pakistan's upcoming nationwide election held a waterborne rally to highlight the challenges faced by their embattled fishing community.

Backers of independent political candidate Haji Usman Ghani took to the water Friday on a flotilla of fishing boats. He is contesting May 11 elections for the Sindh provincial assembly from a constituency near the southern port of Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, and many of his prospective voters work in the fishing industry on the nearby coast.

Dozens of boats filled with his supporters left the harbor and went into the Arabian Sea with flags flying.

Supporters did not let their cumbersome life jackets get in the way of the festive atmosphere, and danced and chanted slogans to show their support for Ghani.

But the candidate had a serious message. Ghani, who's been a social activist in the area for years, promised to improve the education system and provide clean drinking water to his constituency if elected.

"Our children don't get an education. We were forced to use contaminated water...There are no teachers in schools and colleges of the area. That is why I had to come forward and contest elections to get our problems solved. We supported and followed others for long, but no more. We will solve our problems ourselves," Ghani said.

Many people who took one of the roughly 50 boats taking part in the flotilla complained that the government has done little to help the fishing community.

Fishermen are often caught up in a tit-for-tat war on the water with Indian authorities who arrest Pakistanis after they allegedly cross into Indian territory. Pakistan does the same. The fishermen in both countries often languish in jail for months. According to members of the fishing community around 170 Pakistani fishermen are currently being held in India.

"The government has done nothing for the industry and the fishermen," Ali Mohammad, a supporter of Ghani....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times blog post by Kamila Shamsie:

KARACHI, Pakistan — At the start of last week I was in the nation’s capital, Islamabad, which adjoins the country’s most populous and most powerful province, Punjab. Almost all the political talk there was about Punjab, the home province of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, where he and his Pakistan Muslim League-N (P.M.L.-N) have been holding rallies, urging supporters to vote them into power. Most analysts believe that is exactly what will happen, even though Sharif won’t have the easy ride that he might once have expected: The cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (P.T.I.) party have strong support in Punjab, and Khan has been traveling the length and breadth of the province to prove the pundits wrong. This is as it should be in a democracy the week before an election.

But now I’m back in my hometown of Karachi, the capital of Sindh province, and here — as in all the provinces other than Punjab — the picture is very different. On the morning of May 3, the day after I arrived, the daily newspaper Dawn reported that since April 11 — exactly one month before Election Day — there had been 42 attacks on campaigners and campaign offices, with 70 people killed and more than 350 injured. Two candidates standing for elections were among the fatalities.
The parties that stand accused of being pro-Taliban — the P.M.L.-N and P.T.I., as well as religious parties — have continued to campaign as if none of this is happening. While the violence has prevented the A.N.P., M.Q.M. and P.P.P. from holding large rallies and relegated media coverage of them to squibs describing bombs and gunmen, the P.M.L.-N and P.T.I. are holding major gatherings, which are broadcast live on TV and make headline news.

The kindest explanation for those parties’ detachment is that although they’re distressed by what’s happening, they don’t wish to find themselves and their workers in the firing line. But cowardice in the face of terrorism shouldn’t inspire much confidence in them. And a less kind explanation calls them “appeasers,” Taliban “sympathizers” and “cold-blooded opportunists.”

The Taliban themselves appear to be of two minds about the election. On the one hand, they seem to be targeting only those parties they view as enemies. On the other hand, they have been distributing — mostly in A.N.P., M.Q.M. and P.P.P. strongholds — pamphlets that say democracy itself is an infidel system and that anyone who participates in it is acting against Islam.

And so in parts of the country where the threat of more attacks on Election Day is high, no matter whom people vote for, simply by going to the polling stations they will be casting their ballots against the Pakistani Taliban.

Riaz Haq said...

I was shocked to hear PTI NA-146 (Okara) candidate Prof Abdur Rauf Dola admit to GeoTV's Suhail Warraich today that ISI helped him get the PTI ticket from Imran Khan over the objections of local PTI officials. Does the military see Nawaz Sharif as a problem in its fight against terrorists? Is the ISI working to try and keep Nawaz Sharif out of power?

Riaz Haq said...

Abdur Rauf Dola, a PTI candidate in Okara, said the ISI helped him get the PTI ticket over the objections of local PTI leadership. It could be a lone ISI guy, but it's also possible that Pak military is wary of Nawaz Sharif given his prior record of trying to bring the military under his heel. In addition, the US has no love for Nawaz Sharif because his well known connections with Al Qaeda and Taliban and other militant groups and his expressed desire to become "amir-ul-momineen". It's possible that Imran Khan is being used to checkmate Nawaz Sharif by splitting Punjabi vote to help parties other than PTI and PML(N). Who knows???

Hopewins said...

Good article on the influence of Biradari on Pakistani elections...

Rajputs, Jats, Gujjars, Arain et cetera are all there.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a link to an interactive map of National Assembly constituencies, districts, candidates, voters, etc for Pakistan Elections 2013:

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report on a wave of sympathy for Imran Khan:

Imran Khan, a leading candidate in this week's general election in Pakistan, was rushed to hospital with a skull fracture and injured back on Tuesday after falling off an improvised platform attached to a forklift truck at one of the final rallies of his campaign.

The images of the dazed and bloodied leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) being rushed to hospital with a skull fracture and back injuries has added another element of uncertainty to an election that even seasoned observers are hesitating to call.

But just hours after falling from an overcrowded platform attached to a forklift truck, Khan was recording video messages from his hospital bed, urging his countrymen to vote for his party in the coming polls on Saturday.

"I did whatever I could for this country," Khan said while lying flat on a hospital bed, his neck partially restrained by a brace. He went on to urge people to vote for the PTI.

"Now I want you to take responsibility. If you want to change your destiny, I want you to take responsibility."

Earlier yesterday the 60-year-old politician had been pulled off the platform used to raise him to a stage at a political rally in the city of Lahore after one of his guards lost balance and toppled over the side.

The accident triggered a flood of concern and support on social media, where Khan already has a passionate following.

Crowds gathered outside the Shaukat Khanum hospital, a private cancer hospital named after his mother that Khan established, after he was transferred there.

When news came through that a scan had shown Khan had not suffered internal bleeding, the gathered supporters cheered and waved cricket bats, the official symbol of the PTI which will appear on ballot papers next to candidates' names.

The extraordinary twist to an already drama-filled election complicates the guessing game over how many seats the PTI, a relatively young party that has only ever held one seat in the past, will win.

Although most analysts do not think the PTI will emerge as the biggest party, Khan had appeared to be gaining momentum in recent days with a frantic schedule of back-to-back campaign events that have helped to galvanise a young, middle-class fanbase with huge numbers of supporters flocking to his events.

The more seats he wins, the harder it will be for frontrunner Nawaz Sharif, a two-term prime minister who heads a wing of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), to win an outright majority or even enough seats to form a strong coalition.

Sharif's campaign was quick to respond to events, announcing the cancellation of all campaign events on Wednesday and the dropping of all ads attacking Khan. The country's interim prime minister, Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, also expressed concern over Khan's injury and wished him a quick recovery.

Khan's political rallies have been full of energy but also chaotic at times, with security guards powerless to prevent the PTI leader throwing himself into heaving crowds despite the terrorist attacks that have cast a shadow over the election....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story on politics of patronage in Pakistan:

Yousaf Raza Gilani, a former prime minister, built his political popularity on his status as a makhdoom, the guardian of one of Multan’s many ornate, centuries-old Sufi shrines. But in this contest, Mr. Gilani is counting on something more temporal to tempt voters: the city’s impressive array of new highway overpasses, bridges and sewerage networks, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, that he built during his time in office.

“People want to see what we have done for them,” said Mr. Gilani, who is campaigning on behalf of his three sons and brother, who are candidates for Parliament, as he steered his sport utility vehicle through a crowd of supporters. “They want deeds, not intentions.”

Patronage has long been the bedrock of politics in Pakistan, where votes are dictated less by the strategic issues that concern Western allies — combating the Taliban, rescuing an ailing economy or shaping policy toward Afghanistan — and more by immediate concerns about legal protection and government handouts.

Voters, particularly in rural areas, view their representatives in Parliament principally as big bosses who can deliver protection: influencing the police and dealing with aggressive, corrupt land officials, or working to route jobs or multimillion-dollar projects to their districts. Mr. Gilani’s Pakistan Peoples Party, which led the last government, is counting heavily on that record to shore up its crumbling popularity.
On the national stage, Mr. Khan’s rise is changing the immediate political equation for old-school power brokers. But at the local level in Pakistan, within individual constituencies, true change can be hard to deliver.

Mr. Gilani, 60, is an archetypal patronage politician. He had a mixed record during his four-year stint as prime minister, which ended in June, overseeing a sharp economic decline and chronic electricity shortages. Even so, Mr. Gilani told a Pakistani journalist recently, while in office he devoted at least one hour of every day to the affairs of his constituents.

As a result, Multan has been transformed, residents say. The city is ribboned with new roads and expressways, while a modern airport, capable of accommodating wide-body jets, is near completion. The railway station has been overhauled, some neighborhoods have new sewerage, and young students have been awarded generous scholarships.

A giant billboard outside Mr. Gilani’s house lists his achievements: 34 major development projects, costing more than $280 million, all financed by Pakistani taxpayers. “Multan has become like Paris for us,” said Muhammad Bilal, a 28-year-old laborer and enthusiastic Gilani supporter, at a rally last week.

As Mr. Gilani bumped down a country lane on the way to that rally, he pointed to a line of female faces peeking over a wall: all beneficiaries of a government aid plan he helped establish that pays $10 a month to poor women, he said.

“This is a backward area,” said the former prime minister, a soft-spoken and amiable man, just before supporters showered him with rose petals. “People have issues regarding their personal needs.”

To critics like Mr. Khan, this extreme version of pork-barrel politics represents the rot in government: the cornerstone of an unfair system riddled with graft and nepotism. But political scientists say it may be unavoidable in a country with limited resources and a weak government.

“The debate is misplaced,” said Asad Sayeed of the Collective for Social Science Research, in Karachi. “To do away with the demand for patronage politics, you would need to rebuild the entire state.” ...

Riaz Haq said...


PML (N) may end up with the largest number of seats but it probably will not be able to put together a coalition.

This will likely open up an opportunity for the PPP to form the next govt. So there's very little chance of better governance in the next 5 years.

Imran Khan (PTI) will most likely sit in the opposition with 30-40 seats....a substantial number to be able to influence laws and policies.

Hopewins said...

Now see, this is what I have been saying for so long....

Friday, May 10:

QUOTE: "The terror threats have made PPP, ANP, MQM and Balochistan nationalist parties unable to hold large public gatherings in their respective provinces.

Aside from Punjab, bomb blasts have become a routine part of the daily life in the remaining three provinces of the country.

The unabated attacks on the political activities of the PPP, ANP, MQM and Baloch nationalist parties have multiplied the concerns of Sindhis, Pakhtuns, Mahajirs and Balochis who now raise serious questions of the credibility of the upcoming elections without their active participation in the election process."

Najam said...

Riaz, It appears a good prediction,but I have a feeling that Tsunami Khan and his group will not accept their defeat and howl "Rigged Elections".

Riaz Haq said...

Najam: "It appears a good prediction,but I have a feeling that Tsunami Khan and his group will not accept their defeat and howl "Rigged Elections"."

I share your fear that Imran Khan's folks will cry foul. But it'll be a test of his leadership to cool tempers and work to improve the system and hope that the next election could make PTI a big winner.

TechNoDogy said...

The problem is that Taliban are our neighbors and we have to live with them after US leaves Afghanistan. So we cannot afford to have a hostile government of Taliban there.

Riaz Haq said...

Aman: "The problem is that Taliban are our neighbors and we have to live with them after US leaves Afghanistan. So we cannot afford to have a hostile government of Taliban there."

The attackers are mostly thugs and criminals operating in the name of Islam under TTP banner. And the only to deal with such outlaws is to bring them to justice.