Pakistan observed a day of mourning for the dozens of people killed and injured during a series of terror attacks targeting political rallies as the country gears up for the July 25 national elections. Officials on July 15 said that more than 160 people were killed, including political candidates, and at least 230 wounded in three separate election-related bombings over the past week in and around the cities of Peshawar, Mastung, and Bannu. The attacks only served to ratchet up political tensions in the country ahead of the upcoming vote. Adding to the strains was the arrest of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who returned from London to face corruption charges. Officials said the deadliest of three attacks came on July 13, when at least 140 were killed by a suicide bomber at a political rally in the Mastung district of Balochistan Province.Full Article: Pakistan Holds Day Of Mourning After Bloody Week Of Election-Related Violence.
Articles about voting issues in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
A week of bombings on political rallies has shattered the relative peace of Pakistan’s general election campaign, culminating in a devastating suicide attack that killed at least 130 people at a rally in the southwestern Baluchistan province. As campaigning intensifies, attacks in different areas of the country have stoked fear of more violence in the Muslim country of 208 million where political rallies can draw tens of thousands of people. The July 25 election features dozens of parties, with two main contenders: ex-cricket hero Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehree-i-Insaf and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which vows to win a second term despite the jailing of founder, ex-Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif, on a corruption conviction.Full Article: Fears of more violence in Pakistan election after bomber kills 130 | Reuters.
One hundred years ago, women in the United Kingdom gained the right to vote, and today, most women in the developed world are enfranchised. But in many developing countries, the resistance that British suffragettes faced a century ago, rooted in misogyny, persists. This is certainly true in Pakistan, where the general election set for July 25, provides an ideal opportunity to advocate for change. At first glance, Pakistan seems progressive. The law has permitted women to vote since 1956, almost a decade after independence from Britain. Since then, the number of women in parliament has steadily increased, aided by a 33 per cent quota and rules dictating how many women must be included on party lists.Full Article: Closing Pakistan’s electoral gender gap | The New Times | Rwanda.
Pakistan: At least 21 dead in huge bombing targeting politicians who dared to stand up to Taliban | The Independent
The Pakistani Taliban has claimed it was behind a suicide bombing at a rally that killed a secular politician and 20 others two weeks before nationwide elections. Mohammad Khurasani, a spokesman for the militant group, said they targeted the Awami National Party rally in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing Haroon Ahmed Bilour, a candidate for a seat in the provincial legislature. Another 65 people were wounded. Islamic extremists grew to despise the ANP when it ruled the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital, from 2008 to 2013.Full Article: Pakistan election: At least 21 dead in huge bombing targeting politicians who dared to stand up to Taliban | The Independent.
Pakistan’s military said it would deploy more than 370,000 troops to guard the general election later this month, but said it was not meddling in the democratic process. Major General Asif Ghafoor told a news conference that more than three times as many troops would be deployed than in the 2013 elections, and they would be stationed inside and outside polling stations. Campaigning has so far been dominated by allegations the military has run a multi-pronged campaign to undermine the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party of ousted former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, and muzzled the media. Sharif, who last week was sentenced to 10 years for corruption offences, says the army is trying tip the balance in favour of Imran Khan’s PTI party.Full Article: More than 370,000 troops to guard Pakistan election as army denies meddling.
Caretaker Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting, National Heritage and Energy Syed Ali Zafar on Sunday said the accountability court decision against former prime minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz would not affect holding of the general election on time. There was no provision in the Constitution regarding postponement of the election, which would be held on July 25, 2018 as per schedule, he said during ‘Meet the Press Programme’ here at Lahore Press Club. Answering a question, the minister said they [Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz] would be arrested on their return to Pakistan, if they were not provided any relief by the court. It was a responsibility of everyone to obey the court orders, he added.Full Article: Minister rules out delaying Pakistan election | GulfNews.com.
Uncertainty, doubts, and skepticism are on the rise as Pakistan inches toward its July 25 parliamentary elections, the most controversial in the country’s democratic history thanks to recurring direct and indirect interference by the powerful military. There exists both hope and despair – hope of a third transfer of power from one elected government to another and despair because of the increasing role of the proverbial “invisible hand” that some observers and political analysts label as the “creeping coup.” Unlike the past, where the military used to pack elected governments through direct interference or pick and choose by acting behind the scenes, this time it is the top judiciary and the accountability department — the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) — standing in the front row and believed to be targeting some, while sparing others.Full Article: Pakistan’s Bittersweet Election Season | The Diplomat.
Pakistan’s former prime minister and a member of his cabinet have been controversially barred from contesting next month’s general election. It is the latest in a series of blows to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party that have fuelled accusations the country’s military is trying to deny the party a second term. On Thursday, the supreme court found the former privatisation minister Daniyal Aziz guilty of contempt, disqualifying him from parliament for five years.Full Article: Former Pakistan prime minister barred from re-election | World news | The Guardian.
When Pakistan’s military spokesman held a press conference earlier this month on emerging threats, Matiullah Jan, a journalist who has written critically of the judiciary and the military, was surprised to see his own picture flash on the screen. The spokesman, Gen. Asif Ghafoor, said Jan and a handful of other journalists and bloggers were anti-state and anti-military. Those are serious allegations in Pakistan, where the military has ruled, directly or indirectly, for most of the country’s history, and where rights groups say it is waging an unprecedented campaign of intimidation ahead of next month’s elections. “He wasn’t specific,” Jan said of the press conference. “But he tried to paint everyone on the so-called slide prepared by intelligence reports with a broad brush as being anti-state and anti-army.Full Article: Pakistan's media faces threats, abductions ahead of vote - Khaleej Times.
In most countries, politicians who warned that aliens were trying to influence an upcoming general election would likely find themselves ridiculed by the media and shunned at the ballot box. In Pakistan, where cryptic references to “invisible hands” wielded by “the boys” have long been part of the political lexicon, such talk is a staple of the campaign trail. Ahead of the July 25 vote, ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has cautioned that “aliens” (Pakistan’s military) will attempt to prevent his party from winning another five-year term. Others whisper about the role the country’s feared “angels” (intelligence services) might play. The colorful terminology is partly a reflection of Pakistan’s rich linguistic heritage, peppered with English terms such as “blue-eyed boy” (one favored by those in power) and “red lines” (forbidden subjects).Full Article: 'Aliens' and 'angels': euphemisms mask Pakistani election fears | Reuters.
Pakistan: Impossible to incorporate electronic voting in 2018 elections, observes Supreme Court | The Express Tribune
The Supreme Court observed on Thursday that it is impossible to incorporate an electronic voting system for the upcoming general elections in the country. The bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, resumed hearing of a petition filed in 2012 by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan which sought removal of alleged bogus votes from the voter lists issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).Full Article: Impossible to incorporate electronic voting in 2018 elections, observes SC - The Express Tribune.
The surfacing in March of Cambridge Analytica’s social media breaches, with a whistleblower claiming that that over 50 million Facebook profiles were used to manipulate polls including the 2016 U.S. elections, meant that similar concerns have shrouded upcoming elections elsewhere this year. Among these are the general elections in Pakistan, scheduled to be held this summer. On April 6, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced two steps that would be introduced to address these apprehensions. “From now on, every advertiser who wants to run political or issue ads will need to be verified. To get verified, advertisers will need to confirm their identity and location,” he wrote on Facebook. “Second, we will also require people who manage large pages to be verified as well. This will make it much harder for people to run pages using fake accounts, or to grow virally and spread misinformation or divisive content that way.”Full Article: Could Facebook Data Leaks Impact Pakistan’s Elections? | The Diplomat.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has formed a committee to conduct a technical audit of the Internet voting solution process that was proposed by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra). The task force formed on the directions of the Supreme Court is mandated to assess the technical soundness of the web-based automated system that has been designed to help overseas Pakistanis vote through the Internet. Only expatriates who have been issued national identity cards for overseas Pakistanis and valid machine-readable passports will be eligible to use the system to cast their votes.Full Article: ECP sets up team to scrutinise Internet voting system - Newspaper - DAWN.COM.
Pakistan: In a first, watermarked ballot papers to be used in 2018 general elections | The Express Tribune
The ballot papers in the upcoming general elections will bear a watermark on them which is unprecedented in Pakistan’s electoral history, Express News reported. According to reports, preparations for the general elections are in full swing with ballot papers to be used for voting to have an exclusive watermark for which paper is being purchased from France. The special paper will be provided in June 2018 after which the printing process shall begin.
Supreme Court of Pakistan recently called a briefing where National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) presented the online voting system for overseas Pakistanis. Chief Justice Saqib Nisar led a three-member bench to resume the hearing of a case referring to the voting rights of overseas Pakistanis. The hearing was attended by the officials of Election Commission of Pakistan, parliamentarians, representatives of political parties and faculty experts from reputable universities of Pakistan. … The online system has been integrated with the web portals of ECP and NADRA. To cast a vote, an overseas Pakistani who wishes to use the system must have a National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP), a machine-readable passport and a valid email address to register on the website. The eligibility of the voter will be verified by the 13-digit NICOP number, its issuance date, tracking number and passport number of the machine-readable passport. After the validation of eligibility, the identity of the voter will be confirmed if they answer two verification questions asked by the system.Full Article: NADRA's e-voting system can be prone to hackers.
IT experts on Thursday raised objections over an e-voting software prepared by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to enable overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in the forthcoming elections. A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, Thursday resumed hearing of a case pertaining to voting rights to overseas Pakistanis. During the hearing, the NADRA chairman briefed the SC bench, officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and representatives of different political parties on the e-voting system. The official said that providing e-voting facility to around 7 million overseas Pakistanis would cost Rs150 million.Full Article: IT experts object to NADRA's e-voting software for overseas Pakistanis | Pakistan - Geo.tv.
The Overseas Pakistani Foundation (OPF) has asked for a five-seat representation in each of the houses in Pakistan’s parliament before the upcoming general elections so that eight million Pakistanis all over the world, including in the UAE, can exercise their right to vote. Barrister Amjad Malik, chairman of board of governors (BoG) of Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF), who is currently visiting the UAE, while talking to the media and members of the community, said that the proposal had been made to the prime minister of Pakistan three months ago.Full Article: Pakistani expats may get a chance to vote - Khaleej Times.
“We have all the necessary and good laws in Pakistan, but we fail to implement them!” This is a common lamentation in Pakistan. Whatever the subject is — politicians, civil society, lawyers, journalists and governmental officials make this claim. But is this true? In one area that has attracted much public controversy, this was not the case: The election laws lacked many provisions needed for credible, transparent and inclusive elections. The controversies in the 2013 elections were not simply ‘losers crying sour grapes’. Genuine shortcomings in the election laws, which undermined Pakistani elections for many years were repeatedly pointed out by civil society, observers and eventually also confirmed in the inquiry commission setup to investigate the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) accusations of systemic rigging in 2013 general elections. The Commission found no systematic rigging but pointed to many systemic problems.Full Article: From law to action: election reforms in Pakistan - Daily Times.
National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Chairman Usman Mobin is set to apprise the Supreme Court on Monday of “non-technical challenges” and the minimum time required to develop an integrated internet voting system to enable overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in the upcoming general elections. During the last hearing of the petitions seeking the right of vote for overseas Pakistanis, the Nadra chairman had tried to make a presentation before a SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, on the internet voting system, but at the outset he was intercepted by the chief justice when he sought a five-month time for developing the system. … Nadra spokesman Faik Ali, when contacted, said that after the court’s directive a Nadra team headed by the chairman held meetings with the ECP officials to discuss modalities, time frame and non-technical challenges related to the mechanism. He said the Nadra chairman would apprise the Supreme Court of the outcome of these meetings on Monday.Full Article: SC to learn about ‘challenges’ in framing system for overseas voters - Pakistan - DAWN.COM.
With the Supreme Court’s approval, the country’s biggest database manager has started working on the development of an integrated internet voting system aimed at extending the right of franchise to over seven million Pakistanis living abroad in time for the next general elections, according to a report by a private media outlet. According to a presentation given by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to the apex court on Wednesday, a three-tier electronic mechanism – named the Internet Voting System for Overseas Pakistanis – will be developed at a cost of Rs150 million and within a period of four months. The ECP would provide the required funds for the project.Full Article: NADRA to develop internet voting system for expats: report | Pakistan Today.