29th January 2005
It was expected going into these elections that the current ruling government led by the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) would face a significant challenge, owing to the economic issues, security, corruption, and tensions over the border region where a long-running war has killed many people and displaced thousands more. Victory seems to be for Muslim League led by Nawaz Sharif, a former Prime Minister whose term was ended by the coup that Pervez Musharraf was involved in. Sharif went into the election as head of the main opposition block, with 26.6% of the vote (91 seats) in the last legislative election.
In the run up to the elections there were attacks launched by local militants such as the Pakistan Taliban. In total at least 100 people died running up to the polling date. So far results seem to indicate that Sharif and his Muslim League have a majority of votes, which surprised some observers as it was expected that the former cricketer-turned politician, Imran Khan, was thought to have had possibility for a sweep. Khan still came out with his party having the second most seats but has accused the elections of not being transparent.
Pakistan vote: Nawaz Sharif in talks on new government
Pakistani ex-PM Nawaz Sharif has been holding talks with party colleagues on forming a government, after claiming victory in parliamentary elections.
Unofficial results suggest a big lead for Mr Sharif's Muslim League (PML-N), though he may need support to govern.
Former cricketer Imran Khan, who could be the main opposition leader, said he was pleased with the high turnout but disappointed about reports of rigging.
The ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) seems to have been badly beaten.
It was one of several secular parties unable to campaign freely due to Taliban attacks.
Most of the remaining PPP seats look likely to be in its heartland of Sindh province.
Saturday's election should pave the way for the country's first transition from one elected government to another.
The poll was generally seen as having passed off successfully, but violence on Saturday claimed at least 24 lives.
An election commission spokesman said turnout had been around 60%. In 2008 it was 44%. 'Path of democracy'
Mr Sharif is expected to become prime minister for the third time, his last period in office ending 14 years ago in a military coup followed by his trial and exile.
The BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Islamabad says he is already getting down to business, starting work on putting together a government.
PML-N officials said he was holding talks with some independent MPs to work out cabinet positions.
Our correspondent says that he is set to take over the reins of power at a time when most Pakistanis are preoccupied by the challenges of daily life amid lengthy power blackouts.
His strategy for tackling militant violence will be closely scrutinised at home and by international partners, he adds.
Even if his PML-N does not have an outright majority, its projected margin of victory suggests it will be in a much stronger position than the PPP was at the head of the outgoing coalition.
Mr Sharif should at least not need to seek the support of his main rivals, the PPP and Imran Khan's Movement for Justice (PTI), analysts say.
Soon after polls closed, he claimed victory and joined supporters celebrating in his stronghold, the north-eastern city of Lahore.
Muslim League voter Asma Usmani in Islamabad praised the poll.
"I was expecting that PML-N would win because I voted for them. These were very fair elections and the election commission did very well," she said.
Meanwhile Mr Khan spoke publicly for the first time since the election. He is in hospital with a fractured spine after a fall at an election rally last Tuesday.
"I congratulate the entire nation for taking part in such a massive democratic process. We are moving forward on the path of democracy," he said.
"Now there is awareness among the people of Pakistan that their fate is in their hands."
He praised Pakistan's women for voting in unprecedented numbers, and said he would "issue a white paper" in response to allegations of vote-rigging by members of his party.
But some of Mr Khan's supporters said the vote was rigged against them.
A PTI spokesman said the PML-N had been involved in large-scale rigging in parts of Lahore, and many women were not allowed to vote.
"These can't be called fair elections," said one supporter, businessman Bilal Saleem.
"PTI should have got more seats in Punjab. It was Imran Khan versus Punjab political machinery."
But PML-N's election officer denied the allegations.
"We don't go to these levels," Amna Malik said. "We are here to create change in Pakistan and rule out corruption."
Meanwhile Election Commission head Sher Afghan denied that anyone was intimidated, threatened or prevented from voting, adding that any formal complaint would be investigated. Taliban threat
Official results are coming in slowly, but projections put Mr Sharif's party ahead in more than 115 of the 272 directly elected parliamentary seats.
Mr Khan looks to be on course to win a big victory in a constituency in the city of Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.
The PTI looks set to be the largest party in the provincial assembly in the troubled north-western KP province, plagued by a conflict between security forces and militants.
President Asif Ali Zardari's PPP is in a race for second place with the PTI, but both seem likely to win fewer than 40 seats.
Saturday's poll saw contests in 272 directly-elected seats for the National Assembly. There are a further 70 seats reserved for women and minorities which will be apportioned according to the parties' performance in the directly elected constituencies.
The Pakistani Taliban threatened to carry out suicide attacks ahead of the election.
In the run-up, more than 100 people died in election-related violence.
SCHOFIELD DID 4/30
10th August 2004
You are probably better versed on this, but I recall the Muslim League being something like the African National Congress of Pakistan. By that, I mean, Pakistan was effectively a one-party state under the popularity of the 'Father of the Nation' Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Military rule brought about its dissolution in the 50s and now there are dozens of parties of the same name claiming to be the spiritual successor of the original.
The Nawaz bloc seems to be one of the more popular branches, espousing moderate Islam, economic liberalism and a strong stance on Punjab, him being a Punjabi. Seems like a good direction for Pakistan (maybe not the hardline with India), but his last go at the prime ministry didn't end so well, with a near unparallelled economic downturn that gave rise to General Musharraf. We'll see, I guess.
29th January 2005
Red Menace;5697158You are probably better versed on this, but I recall the Muslim League being something like the African National Congress of Pakistan. By that, I mean, Pakistan was effectively a one-party state under the popularity of the 'Father of the Nation' Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
The current ML tries to establish continuation with the original Muslim League that was responsible for the independence of that country. A lot of other parties have tried to claim that name because of its historical image. Though Jinnah was more opened-minded and pluralistic in his approach, a lot of Pakistan parties tend to divide themselves along ethnic or tribal lines, sometimes religious ones with respect to groups like Shi'a or Ahmadiyah.
About five other parties with some variation on "Muslim League" were in these elections. AFAIK Nawaz Sharif's ML doesn't have a connection to the most recent Muslim League that fractured back in the 60s. Even Musharraf tried to run one under that name, though that party did not contest these elections due to their protest over his current trial and ban on being able to stand for office. Ideologically though the ANC is closer to the Indian National Congress than either the original Muslim League or the one that Sharif leads. As far as I know the latter is more conservative and traditional, though at the same time very much pro-business.
Current declared seats:
Muslim League: 126 Seats PPP: 31 Pakistan Movement for Justice (PTI): 29 MQM (liberals): 18 JUI (religious conservatives): 11 Pakistan Muslim League: 5
Then a bunch of other parties holding a seat or two. Independent candidates totaled 11 seats. There's also a quota of 60 seats for women and 10 for certain minorities that haven't been declared yet. This is a body with 342 seats- 272 seats are elected from single-member districts (IE First past the post) while the women and minority seats are elected at large with proportional representation.
Sharif already went into the elections with 71 seats so they won big. PPP went from 97 to 31, which is a significant loss. Imran Khan's PTI did less than expected. There are some seats still not declared as well as the women and minority seats but it is projected that Sharif will have a majority on his own and won't need a partner in its government.
Turnout was a "record high" of 60%, something that hasn't happened since the 1970 elections. It should also be noted that with all the problems, if this holds, this'll be the first time a democratically elected government completed its full term and handed power to another one given that shit doesn't hit the fan.
I live on Gaming Forums
20th August 2008
Here's the situation:
The Bald Devils (aka Muslim League - N) have indeed scored a clear victory over PTI and PPP. This means the next 5 years are going to be hellish for us all. It also means that religious extremism, sectarian militarism and anti-west sentiments are expected to have a gradual increase.
Sorry to refute Red Menace, but PML-N do NOT pursue liberal Islam. Their leaders (The Bald Devils aka Nawaz and Shahbaz) were introduced and encouraged in the political scenario by Zia-ul-Haq (a military dictator and a symbol of religious extremism) back in the 80s.
N has sweeped the elections in punjab (the province with largest population and representation in the assembly) but they have no representation in any other province except for a sparse win here and there. But they will indeed be able to form an almost-sovereign (they would still need a hand from some 30 or so other, but thats easily done) government in the national assembly. They would also form a sovereign provincial government in punjab (the provincial elections and national elections are held together. The Bald Devils won the national and the punjab provincial).
So the situation is like this:
National Assembly: Bald Devils (aka PML-N)
Punjab: Bald Devils
Khyber Pakhtoonkhuah (the northern province): Imran Khan (PTI) alongwith some Fazl ur Rehman (JUI) collaboration.
Balochistan: Mostly local parties with some JUI collaboration.
Sindh: Unclear yet. Probably Altaf Husain (MQM) will be part of a collaboration there.
The previous government has made two critical agreements in its time. 1- The iran gas pipeline. 2- Allowing China to utilise the Gawadar port, letting them access to the Indian Ocean.
If this government continues its glorious practice of cancelling out the agreements of the previous governments, we will most certainly have much more friendly neighborhood in the future.