Posts Tagged ‘Quetta’

Balochistan shocked over its poor share in CPEC projects

December 19, 2018

Only 9% of development work completed in about five years against the US$5.5 billion CPEC investment portfolio

A study carried out with the technical assistance of the World Bank has shocked the leaders of the volatile Pakistani province of Balochistan, which feels deprived of its due share of investments pledged under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) mega-project.

The Balochistan cabinet, during a briefing last week, was informed that the investments thus far made in the province were dismally low while the ongoing development projects moved along at a snail’s pace.

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Alyani was not part of Pakistan's delegation, says official. — File photo
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Alyani was not part of Pakistan’s delegation for the  8th meeting of the CPEC Joint Coordination Committee to be held in China on Dec 20, says official. — File photo

The province’s legislative assembly termed Chinese investment a joke and exhorted Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani to take up the issue with the central Pakistani government for rectification, a demand that the federal Planning Ministry cannot possibly meet without first ratifying it with the China-Pakistan Joint Coordination Committee (JCC).

To make things worse for Chinese policymakers, the politicians of Balochistan, a heartland of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, feel ignored in the multibillion-dollar initiative after learning that a mere 9% of development work has been completed during the last approximately five years against CPEC’s total investment portfolio of US$5.5 billion.

The briefing, given by the World Bank-sponsored CPEC cell of the province’s Planning and Development Department, dwelt at length on the five-year performance overview of the CPEC projects. The cabinet was informed that there was no progress on the Western Route of the corridor as none of the roads that are part of the so-called “western alignment” have seen any work. Also, out of the minuscule share of the total allocated for Balochistan, only $1 billion has been spent during the last five years or so.

Image result for Pakistan, Balochistan, CPEC, western route, map

The lawmakers learned that China had shelved two of the big projects, namely Quetta Mass Transit and the pat feeder (canal) to the Quetta water supply, which the provincial government is believed to be financing through its own resources. The findings also show that the power deficit of the province remains 700 megawatts, despite the additional power-generation capacity with the commissioning of early-harvest projects of the CPEC.

Feeling the heat, the federal minister for planning, development and reforms (PD&R), Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar, rushed to Balochistan House in Islamabad on Thursday to meet with Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan and try to put his concerns about the CPEC’s Western Route to rest. He assured the chief minister that the implementation of the projects would “open up” and Balochistan would be prioritized in the socio-economic development component of the CPEC.

However, an official of the PD&R Ministry, on condition of anonymity, told Asia Times that the chief minister insisted that he would not attend the forthcoming CPEC JCC meeting scheduled to be held next week in Beijing unless the federal government gets the agenda of the meeting revised.

Balochistan, he claimed, wanted to get its stakes secured in the CPEC portfolio with an assurance from Beijing that completion of existing projects will take precedence over the rest of the corridor’s activities.

He disclosed that the chief minister was informed that the responsibilities for slow execution and elimination of mega-projects rest solely on the province’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) government and the present set-up would remove the grievances of Balochistan in this regard.

Khusro Bakhtiar did not respond to a call from Asia Times for comments despite repeated attempts.

The PML-N is, however, in a state of denial saying that neither the chief minister, Balochistan nor the provincial assembly issued any such indication that the province had been snubbed in CPEC-related funding. The whole issue, it claimed, was created by the anti-CPEC lobby to malign China and the PML-N government.

“In his recent interview with the BBC, Finance Minister Asad Umar disclosed that the chief minister of Balochistan during a meeting in Beijing [requested that the Chinese] make more investment in Balochistan. He was on board and fully committed with the developments,” Ahsan Iqbal, a former federal minister and a focal person for the CPEC initiative in the PML-N government, told Asia Times.

He said the elected representatives of Balochistan had not issued any statement to show their reservations on the pace of development or lack of funding under the CPEC umbrella. “Certain elements are busy feeding concocted stories to the press to create confusion and damage the friendly relationship between China and Pakistan,” he said, adding that the PML-N had never ignored Balochistan.

The official circles of Balochistan did air concerns on the CPEC projects. In a tweet last week, the chief minister wrote, “Balochistan shall work for its true share…. It’s sad in last 5 years we got only 5% of the overall share … and it’s sad to see how our governments proved incompetent in achieving … we missed the first 3 years where Balochistan could have gotten anything it needed.”

Balochistan is a belligerent and worrisome region for CPEC. The forces of Baloch radical nationalists have been waging a war against the Chinese penetration in the Global South. Baloch separatists have been opposing the project since its inception, fearing the circle of exploitation will further strengthen if the province collaborates with a foreign state. By carrying out targeted killings, abductions of Chinese workers and attacks on the Chinese installations and CPEC infrastructure, they have expressed anger over the Chinese involvement in Balochistan.

For the first time, the mainstream political circle of an estranged province of Pakistan has realized that all is not well with the CPEC and demanded greater share of the development pie.

http://www.atimes.com/article/balochistan-shocked-over-its-poor-share-in-cpec-projects/

See also:

Alyani not to attend JCC meeting in China

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All of Pakistan’s problems are due to “lack of education” – experts

December 14, 2018

At the Tanjai Cheena school in northwest Pakistan, students squeeze into makeshift classrooms where plastic tarps serve as walls and electricity is sparse, as a surging population overstretches the country’s fragile education system.

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Sandwiched behind desks like sardines, students repeat words learned in Pashto and English during an anatomy lesson: “Guta is finger, laas is hand”.

At the Tanjai Cheena school in northwest Pakistan students squeeze into makeshift classrooms where plastic tarps serve as walls and electricity is sparse. (AFP)

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Two teachers rotate between four classrooms at the school, which lacks even the most basic amenities, including toilets.

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“The girls usually go to my house and the boys to the bushes,” principal Mohammad Bashir Khan, who has worked at the school in the picturesque Swat Valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province for 19 years, said.

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With birth control and family planning virtually unheard of in this ultraconservative region, the ill-equipped public school system has not kept up with population growth.

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“In 1984, when my father started the school, there were 20 to 25 kids. Now they are more than 140,” Khan said.

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Pakistan sits on a demographic time bomb after years of exponential growth and high fertility rates resulted in a population of 207 million — two-thirds of whom are under the age of 30.

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And each year the country gains three to four million more people, overburdening public services from schools to hospitals.

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At the Malok Abad primary school in the town of Mingora, 700 boys share six classrooms, many of which remain damaged from a 2005 earthquake with clumps of plaster still falling from their ceilings.

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The youngest students study in the courtyard sitting on the ground, while others are forced to gather on the roof under the baking sun.

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“We are doing our best. But those kids are neglected by the system,” teacher Inamullah Munir said.

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On the girls’ side, the situation is even more dire with the smallest classes hosting up to 135 students packed into a space measuring about 20 square meters.

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“This is emergency education,” said Faisal Khalid, a local director at the education department in Swat.

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The stakes are high in a country where education has long been neglected and received little in the way of funding as Pakistan focused on fighting militancy.

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Swat shouldered the extra burden of combating a deadly Taliban insurgency that saw dozens of schools destroyed and the shooting of schoolgirl and education activist Malala Yousafzai in 2012.

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As peace has returned to the region, public spending on education has increased, but it still falls short of the province’s growing needs.

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Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party has made “quality education for all” its rallying cry since taking the helm of the provincial government in 2013.

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In the past five years, 2,700 schools have been built or expanded, while 57,000 new teachers have been recruited.

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Authorities have also more than doubled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s education budget between 2013 and 2018. “That was the biggest increase in the history of this province,” Atif Khan, the former provincial education minister, explains.

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However, the rise in spending is no match for Pakistan’s swelling demographics, even as the government plans to expand existing facilities and extend working hours in an attempt to meet demand.

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The top-ranked public high school in provincial capital Peshawar is a striking example of the challenges facing educators and students, who number 70 to a room despite the addition of a dozen new classrooms.

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“The more classrooms we build, the more they will be filled,” Jaddi Kalil, who heads the educational services department in the area, said.

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Pakistan now spends 2.2 percent of its GDP on education, the country’s Minister of Education Shafqat Mahmood told AFP, adding that the amount was set to double in the coming years.

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Even more worrying, the increased funding has failed to put a dent in the province’s illiteracy rates, with only 53 percent of children above 10 years of age able to read and write.

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The situation is replicated across Pakistan, with 22.6 million children out of school nationwide — a figure that is likely to increase, given the country’s unbridled population growth.

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The quality of teaching is also a cause for concern with just one in two students able to solve basic math problems upon completing primary school, according to the finance ministry.

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“Only elites have access to quality education,” a recent report by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said.

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With its economy already on the rocks, Pakistan faces the unenviable task of having to create between 1.2 and 1.5 million skilled jobs annually to employ recent graduates, the UNDP report said.

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Poor education is a “recipe for frustration”, while good education “allows for more cohesion and less extremism”, Adil Najam, the author of the UNDP study, said. “All the important problems of Pakistan are related to education.”

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1420571/world

In Parts of Pakistan, Thousands of Schools “Not Functional”

December 14, 2018

The Balochistan government has stepped up action against ‘ghost’ employees and chronic absentee teachers to improve the woeful state of education in the province, where over a million children remain out of schools.

Pakistan sits on a demographic time bomb after years of exponential growth and high fertility rates resulted in a population of 207 million — two-thirds of whom are under the age of 30. (AFP/File)

At least 1,800 state-run primary, middle and high schools in the province have been found to be non-functional. Another 2,200 schools are without shelter and 5,000 primary schools across Balochistan are being run by single teachers, according to documents of the education department obtained by DawnNewsTV.

Children sit on the floor at an open-air school in Balochistan. — Asmatullah Khan/File
Children sit on the floor at an open-air school in Balochistan. — Asmatullah Khan/File

“We have suspended 179 teachers, ordered inquiries against 97 and issued show-cause notices to 82 during the past one month,” said Balochistan Education Secretary Tayyab Lehri while talking about the government crackdown on ghost and absentee teachers.

See: Schools without roofs: the state of govt-run schools in Balochistan

The education department has also deducted over Rs141 million from the salaries of chronically absent teachers during the last three years, the documents show.

The total number of government-run primary, middle and high schools across Balochistan is said to exceed 13,000. The government has already declared an education emergency in the province to ensure implementation of Article 25-A of the Constitution, which guarantees free education for children aged five to 16.

Despite this, however, “Over one million children [in Balochistan] are presently out of schools,” Lehri told DawnNewsTV.

In order to remedy the sorry state of affairs, the provincial cabinet recently approved the Balochistan Essential Education Service Act, 2018. Under the proposed legislation, teachers will be barred from observing strikes, lock classrooms or boycott classes to have their demands met.

The move has sparked a strong condemnation from the teachers’ community, who term it a violation of their constitutional and basic human rights. “We will not accept this act since it negates fundamental human rights,” Agha Zahir, the chief of ‘teachers action committee’ told a crowded press conference at the Quetta Press Club.

Teachers have also warned they will launch a protest movement to force the government to withdraw the proposed law.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1451419/balochistan-govt-cracks-down-on-ghost-absentee-teachers-as-education-sector-flounders

Khan supporters celebrate as Pakistan faces electoral chaos

July 26, 2018

Pakistan woke to electoral chaos on Thursday with the outgoing ruling party denouncing “blatant rigging” in the pivotal general election and rejecting unofficial, partial results suggesting victory for former cricket champion Imran Khan.

Results were still being tallied Thursday morning, hours after Khan’s supporters took to the streets to celebrate victory in an election opponents have said the powerful military rigged in his favour.

Local media said less than half the votes had been counted more than 13 hours after polls closed, an unprecedented delay that has fuelled widespread fears over the legitimacy of the exercise.

The Election Commission of Pakistan dismissed allegations of manipulation, blaming the delay on glitches in new, untested counting software.

“These elections were 100 percent fair and transparent,” said Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Muhammad Raza early Thursday as the outcry grew.

© AFP | Pakistani media are widely projecting a victory for former cricket star Imran Khan’s PTI

Raza did not say when election authorities would be in a position to announce the results.

Late Wednesday, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which had been in power since 2013, rejected the results because of “outright rigging”, and vowed it would use “all political and legal options for redressal of these glaring excesses”.

“Today what they have done has pushed Pakistan back 30 years… People will not bear it,” the party’s leader Shahbaz Sharif, brother of jailed former premier Nawaz Sharif, said in a press conference.

Other major parties also alleged fraud, including the once-dominant Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), whose chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari echoed the PML-N’s claim that party representatives were barred from monitoring the count, tweeting that the situation was “Inexcusable & outrageous”.

Local television channels were all predicting victory for Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, with the partial results giving him at least 100 seats so far in the National Assembly, the lower house.

A majority of 137 seats is needed to form a government.

Neither Imran Khan nor the military, which had been accused of seeking to manipulate the vote in his favour in the months leading up to the polls, have yet commented on the situation. Both have previously denied allegations of intervention.

The controversy follows a campaign already considered by some observers to be one of the “dirtiest” in the Pakistan’s history because of the allegations against the military, and marked by the increased visibility of extremist religious parties.

– ‘Turmoil’ –

“This is complete chaos,” said political analyst Azeema Cheema, who said she was “very concerned” about what comes next.

“It depends on how the civilian disobedience is being organised. You may have spontaneous riots among political party workers. Then maybe political parties will organise sit-ins and demonstrations,” she told AFP.

Michael Kugelman, an analyst at the Wilson Center in Washington, shared the concern: “No matter how you slice it, the immediate post-election climate in Pakistan will be quite tense.”

“I don’t see any way to prevent a period of turmoil,” he told AFP.

But PTI supporters were ecstatic at the projected results.

First time voter Fahad Hussain, 21, said the party had successfully lured the country’s massive youth population.

“He motivated the youth,” Hussain told AFP in the capital Islamabad as he hit the streets to celebrate with friends.

Wednesday’s elections, conducted under high levels of security, were meant to be a rare democratic transition from one civilian government to another in the young, nuclear-armed country which has been ruled by the military for roughly half its history.

Khan, who captained Pakistan to their World Cup cricket victory in 1992, largely campaigned on ambitious promises to tackle widespread graft while building an “Islamic welfare state”.

But his bid for power was dogged by widespread accusations he is benefiting from a “silent coup” by the generals.

Khan has also increasingly catered to hardline religious groups, particularly over the inflammatory issue of blasphemy, sparking fears a win for PTI could embolden Islamist extremists.

The PML-N says it is the target of the alleged military machinations. Nawaz Sharif was ousted from power last year and jailed over a corruption conviction days before the vote, removing Khan’s most dangerous rival.

Some 800,000 military and police had been deployed to provide security on election day.

But it was still marred by violent attacks. The largest, a suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, left at least 31 dead and 70 wounded near a polling station in Quetta, in southwestern Balochistan province.

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AFP

Related:

Ex-Cricket Star Imran Khan Headed for Pakistan Election Victory

July 26, 2018

A victory for Khan’s party would break the country’s two-party system; campaign pledged to fight corruption

Supporters of Imran Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, wave flags while celebrating on a street in Lahore, Pakistan.
Supporters of Imran Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, wave flags while celebrating on a street in Lahore, Pakistan. PHOTO: ASAD ZAIDI/BLOOMBERG NEWS

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Preliminary voting results in Pakistan showed the party of former cricket star Imran Khan was poised late Wednesday to come into power for the first time, upending the political landscape in the fragile democracy.

Mr. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was performing far better than predicted by pre-election polls, which showed the party marginally in front of that of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

A victory for Mr. Khan’s party would break Pakistan’s two-party system and become a new force in national politics. He has promised to clean up corruption and provide better education, health and other public services.

Mr. Khan’s party, if the early results hold, may still need to forge a coalition with one or more other parties to control the country’s Parliament before Mr. Khan can be nominated as prime minister. Forty-two percent of results have been counted. Full results are expected on Thursday, though counting was delayed by technical failures in an electronic reporting system and the tallying was now being conducted manually.

Mr. Sharif’s party and at least five other parties immediately complained of rigging, complaining alleging that their representatives were locked out of vote counting on Wednesday in many constituencies, and in some cases of intimidation by soldiers. Some 371,000 soldiers were deployed at polling stations, for security.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, politicians in several parties and human-rights groups alleged that the military helped the campaign of Mr. Khan’s party. Mr. Khan and the armed forces denied that any help was given or received.

Asad Umar, a senior member of Mr. Khan’s party, said late Wednesday that they weren’t aware of any irregularities in the voting or counting.

“I congratulate the nation,” said Mr. Umar. “Under the leadership of Imran Khan, Pakistan will become a nation that will not only make us proud, but also the entire world.”

Election officials counting votes in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, on Wednesday.
Election officials counting votes in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, on Wednesday. PHOTO: AHMAD KAMAL/XINHUA/ZUMA PRESS

The election was marred earlier Wednesday after a bomber struck outside a polling station in the city of Quetta in western Pakistan. Police said the attacker was likely a suicide bomber who struck near a police vehicle parked outside a polling station in the suburbs of Quetta. Beyond the 30 people killed, another 35 victims were in critical condition, said Kamran Kasi, a doctor at Quetta’s Civil Hospital. Most of the casualties were voters.

The election campaign had already been disrupted by a series of terrorist attacks, with the bombing on Wednesday pushing the death toll to well over 200 from all the attacks this month. Islamic State claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s blast in Quetta, the capital of the sparsely populated Baluchistan province. The militant group had also claimed the bombing of an election rally in the same province this month that killed 149 people.

“This is Pakistan’s most important election ever,” Mr. Khan said earlier Wednesday, after casting his vote in the suburbs of the capital Islamabad. “This is your opportunity to defeat those two parties which have always ruled over you.”

Less than two weeks before the election, Mr. Sharif was jailed for 10 years, after being found guilty of corruption. He is appealing the verdict, which his party claims was politically motivated and stemmed from Mr. Sharif’s clash with the military when in office. The judiciary rejects the charge and says it works independently. Mr. Sharif had already been removed from the prime ministership by a court verdict last year.

His Pakistan Muslim League-N party’s candidate for prime minister in the election is Mr. Sharif’s brother Shehbaz, who had served as chief minister of the key province of Punjab. The party planned to rely on its traditional stronghold in Punjab to return to power.

Its campaign has blamed the military establishment for robbing the country of its leader of choice, pushing voters to pick between the party and the army. The military is popular in Pakistan, surveys have shown, and it has ruled for almost half of the country’s history.

Write to Saeed Shah at saeed.shah@wsj.com and Bill Spindle at bill.spindle@wsj.com

Pakistan: No Election Winner; Election commissioner has denied allegations of tampering

July 26, 2018

It is just before 10am in Pakistan, where people who cast their votes yesterday are beginning their day in a climate of uncertainty.

  • Pakistan will have to wait until Thursday evening for official results to be announced, election officials have said, a full 24 hours after polls closed on Wednesday evening.
  • With less than half of the vote counted, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party is ahead in projected partial results, leading in 100 seats, to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN)’s 68 seats.
  • Most projections have the PTI winning between 107 and 120 seats, short of the 137 seats needed to form a majority government, meaning the PTI may have to make a deal with some of the nation’s smaller parties.
  • Though results are not official, Khan supporters have been celebrating overnight, with a PTI spokesman copping criticism for calling Imran Khan “prime minister” and congratulating him on his victory while counting was still underway in more than half the constituencies.
  • There have been widespread allegations of election rigging, with party officials claiming voting irregularities, including that polling agents were not allowed into polling stations and voters were not given forms on time.
  • The election commissioner has denied any allegations of tampering, saying the elections were “100% fair and transparent”.
  • Election day was best with violence: at least 31 people were killed on Wednesday in a suicide attack outside a ballot station in Quetta and others were killed in shooting attacks around the country.
  • About 106 million registered voters were eligible to vote before polls closed at 6pm local time.
  • Women in the highly conservative northern regions of Dir, Kohistan and Waziristan voted for the first time in decades.

Read the rest:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2018/jul/25/pakistan-elections-2018-millions-head-to-vote-as-polls-open-live

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Wall Street Journal

Preliminary voting results in Pakistan showed the party of former cricket star Imran Khan was poised late Wednesday to come into power for the first time, upending the political landscape in the fragile democracy.

Mr. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was performing far better than predicted by pre-election polls, which showed the party marginally in front of that of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Read it all:

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BBC News

Ex-cricketer Khan leads in early counting

Ex-cricket star Imran Khan has taken an early lead as votes are counted in Pakistan’s national election, but his rivals allege major vote-rigging.

Early unofficial results suggest his PTI party is in the lead, but it will need to form a coalition if it is unable to secure a simple majority.

Results are trickling in slowly, but election officials deny rigging, saying there are simply technical problems.

Voting day saw bloodshed, with many killed in a blast at a polling station.

This historic election will mark only the second time that a civilian government has handed power to another after serving a full term in Pakistan.

With 42% of polling stations reporting, the Election Commission of Pakistan had Mr Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party leading in 113 of the 272 National Assembly constituencies being contested, according to Pakistan’s Dawn Newspaper.

A woman casts her vote during Pakistan"s general election
Rival parties have accused election results of being rigged. AFP Photo

But the party of disgraced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has weighed in rejecting the results, as have a host of smaller parties, all alleging vote-rigging and manipulation.

“The way the people’s mandate has blatantly been insulted, it is intolerable,” Shehbaz Sharif, leader of the PML-N and brother of the former prime minister.

Election officials say delays in releasing the results are simply down to technical failures in the electronic reporting system and the votes are now being counted manually.

But any delay to the formation of a government is likely to be a concern for Pakistanis waking up to an unclear result, considering Pakistan’s turbulent political history and a brewing economic crisis.

Suspected suicide bomb blast outside a polling station in Quetta
The attack has been claimed by the Islamic State. EPA photo

Why does this election matter?

Pakistan has a population of nearly 200 million, and is a nuclear-armed rival to India, a key developing economy and one of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nations.

The country has been ruled on and off by the military during its 71-year history, so this election is significant because it is considered the country’s second consecutive democratic transition.

The election has been seen as a contest between Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and Mr Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Mr Sharif, who won the last election, has been jailed for corruption after a scandal stemming from the Panama Papers leak.

Are the elections clean?

Both the run-up to the vote, and the vote count itself, have been highly controversial.

Ahead of the elections, the PML-N complained of a targeted crackdown by the security establishment, with the alleged help of the courts, in favour of the PTI party. The Pakistani military denied interfering in politics.

Independent media, meanwhile, say there have been blatant attempts to muzzle them, while the human rights commission has said there are “ample grounds” to question the legitimacy of the polls.

After the polls closed on Wednesday, several political groups alleged that vote rigging was taking place in polling stations – something denied by election officials.

Representatives from several parties said that their polling agents were expelled from polling stations during vote count and were denied certified copies of results – breaching election procedures.

Analysts have also highlighted unusual delays in the announcement of unofficial results in dozens of constituencies, especially in the crucial province of Punjab which has been a stronghold of PML-N.

What are the results of the vote?

The election commission has not released official results yet.

According to unofficial initial results, the PTI party is currently leading in about113 national assembly seats, while PML-N is ahead in about 60seats, local media report.

However, only about a third of the votes have been counted so far, Dawn newspaper says.

The party of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the historically liberal PPP, is widely expected to come third.

It is now fronted by Ms Bhutto’s son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, a 29-year-old Oxford University graduate.

Key players graphic with pictures of Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

The turnout has been estimated at between 50% and 55% out of 106 million registered voters, AFP reports.

Who is Imran Khan?

  • Previously an international cricket star who led Pakistan to a World Cup victory in 1992
  • Educated at the University of Oxford
  • Attracted media attention due to his playboy lifestyle and three marriages
  • Launched his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in 1996 but spent years on the political sidelines
  • Has campaigned against corruption and dynastic politics in Pakistan
  • Faces accusations – which he denies – that his party is benefitting from alleged meddling by the military

Read more: The cricket hero who could be Pakistan’s next PM

Infographic showing civilian and military periods since 1947
Presentational grey line

More on Pakistan’s election

Pakistan’s Election Day Suicide Bombing Kills 31 in Quetta, 35 wounded

July 25, 2018

A Pakistan hospital official says an explosion outside a crowded polling station in the southwestern city of Quetta has killed 31 people and wounded 35. Jaffer Kakar, a doctor, says five policemen and two children are among the dead. He fears the death toll could rise as many of the wounded are in critical condition.

Wednesday’s attack comes as Pakistanis vote in general elections for 270 members of the law-making National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, and 577 seats in four provincial assemblies.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion.

Abdur Razzaq Cheema, the police chief in Quetta, Baluchistan’s provincial capital, says the explosion took place when near the city’s eastern bypass.

Baluchistan also saw the deadliest suicide bombing in the run-up to election day, with 149 people, including a provincial assembly candidate, killed at a campaign this month.

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Pakistan election hit by violence as suicide bomber targets polling station

July 25, 2018

More than 28 people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated near a polling station in the city of Quetta. The attack came as Pakistanis headed to vote in a national election that’s seen attacks on campaign rallies.

    
Members of the bomb disposal unit survey the site after a suicide blast, in Quetta, Pakistan (Reuters/N. Ahmed)

Dozens of people were killed on Wednesday in a suicide bombing near a polling station the in the city of Quetta in western Pakistan.

The militant “Islamic State” (IS) group and the Taliban threatened to target voters during Pakistan’s national election.

What we know so far:

  • At least 30 people were killed, including a child, and over 30 people were wounded when the suicide bomber detonated outside a crowded polling station.
  • Local police officials said the suicide bomber tried to target a high-ranking military officer who was part of a delegation visiting the polling station, but due to tight security, he detonated at the gate.
  • Several of the wounded are in critical condition and the death toll could rise further.
  • IS claimed responsibility for the explosion, according to a statement on the group’s Amaq news agency. The statement did not provide further details or give evidence for the claim.

EU condemns attack

The European Union’s election observation mission in Pakistan sharply condemned the suicide blast in Quetta in a statement.

“This is a deplorable and cowardly attack on a day when voters across Pakistan should be casting their ballots in a peaceful environment, without fear or hindrance,” Michael Gahler, the EU’s chief observer to Pakistan, said.

“Violence must not undermind the elections and the democratic process,” he added.

‘We’re on high alert’

Officials increased security across Pakistan for the election on Wednesday after deadly attacks in the final weeks of the campaign killed over 180 people, including three candidates. Some 370,000 troops and 450,000 police officers have been stationed at 85,000 polling stations across the country.

“We’re on very high alert,” an officer told DW’s Naomi Conrad in Islamabad.

Baluchistan, the province where Quetta is located, saw some of the worst violence during the election campaign. A suicide bomber at an election rally in the Mastung district killed over 100 people earlier this month. Another 400 people were injured in the attack, which was claimed by IS.

rs/aw (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

https://www.dw.com/en/pakistan-election-hit-by-violence-as-suicide-bomber-targets-polling-station/a-44816366

Pakistanis head to the polls despite interparty, militant violence

July 25, 2018
Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting
A Pakistani woman casts her vote at a polling station for the parliamentary elections in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, July 25, 2018. (AP Photo)

Pakistanis headed to the polls early Wednesday to elect a new government for the next five years, officials and local media reported.

Footage aired on local station Geo TV showed voters queuing outside polling stations in the capital Islamabad as well as in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta and other cities. Voting will continue until 6 p.m. local time.

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Insaf party greet to their leader Imran Khan during an election campaign rally in Islamabad, Pakistan, Saturday, July 21, 2018. Pakistan will hold general election on July 25. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

However, the day has not been without violence, as interparty violence and militant attacks have left over a dozen dead.

In the western city of Quetta, at least 28 people were killed and 30 injured in a suspected suicide attack outside a polling station, police and local media reported Wednesday.

A suspected suicide bomber, acting alone, tried to enter a polling station on the eastern outskirts of Quetta, capital of the southwestern Balochistan province, but blew himself up when he was tackled by security personnel, local broadcaster Express News reported.

The blast took place near a long queue of voters, the channel reported. City police chief Abdul Razzak Cheema told reporters that the dead included five policemen. Authorities fear a rise in the death toll as several injured were in critical condition.

Another explosion rocked a polling station in the Larkana district of the southern Sindh province, the hometown of slain Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, injuring four people, Express TV reported.

In a village near the northwestern city of Sawabi, Pakistani police said a shooting between supporters of two opposing political parties left one person dead and wounded two people.

Police officer Khalid Hamdani said it was unclear what triggered the shootout between a group of supporters of the secular Awami National Party, which has often been targeted by the Taliban, and the Tehrik-e-Insaf led by former cricket star Imran Khan, a center-right party. Hamdani says the situation is now under control and voting is underway in Col Sher Khan village.

Ahead of Wednesday’s balloting, over 170 people — including three candidates running in the elections — were killed in suicide bombings in southwestern Baluchistan and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

More than 100 million registered voters will cast their ballots across Pakistan in a nail-biting end to an intense general election process that has been marred by claims of rigging and terrorism.

The ballots will be cast for 272 general seats of the lower house — also known as the National Assembly — and 577 general seats of the country’s four provincial assemblies.

Around 50 political and religious parties are taking part in the elections, which have been marred by allegations of “manipulation” and “engineering”. The main contest is expected to be between three mainstream political parties and a five-party religious alliance.

The fiercest part of the race is expected to be between the two right-wing parties — the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) of three-time Premier Nawaz Sharif, who is currently in jail following a corruption verdict against him, and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) led by former cricket star Imran Khan.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto and religious alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) are also in the running.

According to the latest surveys held by Pakistani think-tanks, a neck-to-neck contest is expected between the PTI and the PML-N.

The PTI enjoys the support of 30-32 percent of voters whereas the PML(N) is the preferred choice of 27-30 percent of voters. The PML(N), however, has an edge over PTI in Punjab, the country’s most populous province and political powerbase.

https://www.dailysabah.com/asia/2018/07/25/pakistanis-head-to-the-polls-despite-interparty-militant-violence

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https://www.dailysabah.com/asia/2018/07/25/pakistanis-head-to-the-polls-despite-interparty-militant-violence

Pakistan Chief Justice Says Killing of Ethnic Minority Hazara “Tantamount to Genocide”

May 11, 2018

Advocate Iftikhar Ali, who was representing the Hazara community, lamented that targeted killings of the ethnic minority have been going on for 20 years, yet not a single arrest has been made.

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Hazara people

 

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday said that the Hazara killings in Balochistan are tantamount to genocide, which is why the court took a suo motu notice of the targeted attacks.

A two-member Supreme Court (SC) bench, comprising Justice Nisar and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, was hearing a suo motu case regarding the targeted killing of the Hazara community in Quetta. The CJP had taken a suo motu notice after the Hazara community staged a protest against the recent increase in targeted attacks that killed at least five people within a month.

“In my opinion, this [Hazara killing] is equivalent to genocide,” said Justice Nisar. “We have to protect the lives and property of the [people of the] Hazara community.”

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Hazara community

“We have no words to condemn these unfortunate attacks,” lamented the CJP.

A report on Hazara killings was submitted in court by Quetta Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Abdur Razzaq Cheema on the CJP’s orders. According to the report, 399 Shia, 36 Sunni and 29 settlers from the Hazara community have been killed in targeted attacks during the past six years.

Read: Hazara massacre

In the past four months, nine people from the Hazara community have been murdered, the report stated. It added that 28 security officials have been killed so far in 2018. However, the situation has improved a lot now, Cheema claimed.

Advocate Iftikhar Ali, who was representing the Hazara community, lamented that targeted killings of the ethnic minority have been going on for 20 years, yet not a single arrest has been made.

“Our lives and property are being endangered,” he said. “Our people had to leave for Australia [to escape the situation].”

Ali also alleged that the police had withdrawn security from their community elders as well. The accusation was denied by Cheema.

The DIG told the court that 28 security officials had been killed in 2018 alone. At this point, the CJ asked Cheema if there was a connection between the killing of the Hazaras and security officials.

“We have worked very hard due to which the number of casualties has decreased,” Cheema responded and added that the Counter-Terrorism Department had arrested terrorists involved in cases of kidnapping for ransom.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1407011/hazara-killings-tantamount-to-genocide-says-chief-justice