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Pakistan Elections 2018: PTI Triumphs Over Corrupt Dynastic Political Elite

Millions of passionate young men and women enthusiastically voted for Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf led by cricket legend Imran Khan to help PTI win against corrupt dynastic political parties in July 25, 2018 elections. Scores of dynastic politicians lost their legislative seats in this election in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces. This election came to represent a generational shift in many families in which parents reliably voted for the “electables” based on biradries (clans) and feudal affiliations but the children voted for PTI. It is a resounding rejection of old feudal politics in large parts of the country. The only exception to this shift is probably rural Sindh where the dynastic Pakistan Peoples' Party gained seats.

Young Electorate:

Pakistan's 46 million young voters of ages 18-36 years, up from 41 million in 2013, made the biggest impact on the outcome of the elections this year, according to data from the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Pakistan Voter Population by Age Groups. Source: Dawn

The enthusiasm of PTI's young supporters was on full display at many large PTI pre-election rallies addressed by Imran Khan. These rallies set a new standard  with lots of lighting, singing, music and dancing by hundreds of thousands of boys and girls across Pakistan.

Smartphones and Social Media:

Thousands of smartphone wielding young voters were seen following the politicians around while streaming live footage of what a newspaper report described as "something extraordinary: angry voters asking their elected representatives what have they done for them lately".  Here's an excerpt of a report by South China Morning Post (SCMP):

“Where were you during the last five years?” they ask (Sikandar Hayat) Bosan, complaining about the poor state of roads in the area. An aide can be heard pleading that the leader is feeling unwell. To be held accountable in such a public manner is virtually unheard of for most Pakistani politicians, especially in rural areas where many of the videos have been filmed. There feudal landowners, village elders and religious leaders have for decades been elected unopposed. Many are known to use their power over residents to bend them to their will."

"Electables" Swept Away:

PTI's "Naya Pakistan" campaign inspired the voters to sweep away scores of "electables", dynastic feudal politicians who used to easily win elections at all levels in Pakistan. Among the prominent "electables" who lost are former prime ministers Yousaf Raza Gilani and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Voters also rejected several "electables" who joined PTI just before the elections to improve their chances of winning. These include Nazar Gondal, Firdos Ashiq Awan, Raza Hayat Hiraj and Nadeem Afzal Chan.

Many top leaders and former ministers also lost. The list of losers includes:

1.Ch Nisar Ali Khan

2. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

3. Tariq Fazal Ch

4. Talal Chaudhey

5. Abid Sher Ali

6. Khawaja Saad Rafique

7. Rana Afzal

8. Awais Leghari

9. Qadir Baloch

10. Ameer Muqam

11. Asfandyar Wali

12. Ghulam Bilour

13. Moulana Fazal ur Rehman

14. Akram Durrani

15. Siraj ul Haq

16. Aftab Sherpao

17. Mehmood Achackzai

18. Qamar Zaman Kaira

19. Yousaf Raza Gilani

20. Nazar Gondal

21. Nadeem Afzal Chan

22. Raza Hayat Hiraj

23. Firdaus Ashiq Awan

24. Farooq Sattar

25. Mustafa Kamal

26. Raza Haroon

27. Zulifqar Mirza

28. Naheed Khan

29. Ijaz Ul Haq

Conspiracy Theories:

Media coverage of Pakistan's July 25, 2018 elections has been dominated by conspiracy theories alleging "orchestration" of the election process by Pakistan's "Deep State".

A recent episode of BBC's Hardtalk with Dawn Group's CEO showed that such allegations fail to withstand any serious scrutiny. The "orchestration" conspiracy theory challenges credulity by asking you to believe that everything starting with Panama Papers leak by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) was managed by Pakistani intelligence agencies to oust Pakistan's ex prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Wide reporting of open criticism of the military and the judiciary by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui shows that the "worst ever media censorship" charge is not credible.

While it is possible that the Pakistani military "establishment" attempted to influence the outcome of the elections, there is scant evidence of "orchestration" as alleged by Hameed Haroon of Dawn Media Group and others. While the military is a key player and has the ability to tip the scales to some extent, it lacks the capacity to determine the outcome of the elections. In the end, it's the voters who decide the winners and losers.

Summary:

PTI has achieved a historic win because of the millions of young men and women came out to enthusiastically support and vote for Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf candidates on July 25, 2018.  It has swept away many of the corrupt and dynastic "electables" and brought to the fore a new crop of leaders in Pakistan.  There is new hope in Pakistan but these new leaders face many challenges starting with the economy being hurt by a serious balance of payments crisis. PTI will need to move quickly to address these and other challenges to begin to meet the huge expectations of their passionate but impatient supporters of "Naya Pakistan".

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Comment by Riaz Haq on August 3, 2018 at 7:54am

34-year-old Wazir Zada of #PTI will be the first member of the #Kalash community to become a lawmaker. July 25 was a big night for #minorities in #Pakistan. 3 Hindu candidates of the #PPPP were elected from the #Sindh province. #PakistanElection2018 https://www.geo.tv/latest/205962-pakistan-gets-its-first-kalashi-la...

More women than ever were on the ballot nationwide. Several transgender persons contested on general parliamentary seats. July 25 was also a big night for minorities in Pakistan. Three Hindu candidates of the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) were elected from the Sindh province. While over in three small villages – Bamboreet, Bareer and Ramboor - nestled in the Hindu Kush mountains in northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, celebrations have been ongoing for many days now. Men and women dance to loud music in their colourful attires. And why shouldn’t there be revelries. One of their own, a young man named Wazir Zada has made history.

The 34-year-old will be the first member of the Kalash community to become a lawmaker.

Before Pakistan went to vote, Zada’s name was proposed for the minority seat in the provincial assembly by Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf. His name is second on the list of priority in an assembly where the PTI has secured a big win, picking up 66 general seats from the province, out of 99.

The Kalash community practises an ancient polytheistic religion and speaks Dardic. They are considered one of the oldest and smallest indigenous communities in the country.

Last year, the government-run National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) warned in a report that the Kalash population has dwindled over the years and now hovers around 4,000 due to forced conversions and other threats.

Zada was born to a working-class family in Kalash. He completed his matriculation and college from Chitral, before joining the University of Peshawar for a masters in political science. After his education, he began working as a social worker and activist in his area.

He first joined Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, a relatively lesser-known party then, in 2008. Once an MPA, Zada says he hopes to bring more “development and prosperity to the people of Kalash.” While the majority of the population in the three villages is that of Muslims, he plans to promote and highlight his tribe’s culture and history.

“I am thankful to Imran Khan, who gave me this opportunity,” he told Geo.tv. “Before this the people of Kalash only voted in the elections, but they were never heard from after. Now, our voice will reach every home.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 4, 2018 at 10:19pm

How a phone app and a database served up #ImranKhan's #Pakistan poll win. A phone #app and #database of more than 50 million voters were key weapons in the successful campaign of cricket legend Imran Khan in last month’s #pakistangeneralelections #PTI https://reut.rs/2Kp3gjK

How Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party used the database and the associated app represents a sea change in the antiquated way in which Pakistan’s biggest parties conduct elections, from pre-poll targeting of voters to on-the-day mobilization of supporters.

PTI was secretive about the technology plan ahead of the July 25 poll, fearing rivals could copy it, but several party workers showed Reuters how the app transformed their campaign and gave them an edge.

The phone app proved especially useful in getting supporters to the polls when the government’s own telephone information service giving out polling place locations suffered major problems on election day, leaving other parties scrambling.

It partly explains why Khan’s party managed to win tight-margin races in the nuclear-armed nation of 208 million people, though Khan’s rivals allege he also benefited from the powerful military’s support - an allegation he staunchly denies.

“It’s had a great impact,” said Amir Mughal, tasked with using the app and database, known as the Constituency Management System (CMS), to elect Asad Umar, a lawmaker who won his seat in Islamabad and will be Khan’s new finance minister.

The small CMS unit led by Mughal, Umar’s personal secretary, was typical of how Khan’s party set up teams in constituencies across Pakistan to mine the database, identifying voters by household, zeroing-in on “confirmed” PTI voters, tagging them on the app, and ensuring they turned out on election day.

“Work that would take days of weeks is being completed in one to two hours,” Mughal told Reuters in Umar’s office minutes after the polls shut.

Khan’s PTI surpassed expectations to scoop about 115 seats out of 272 elected members of parliament, while the party of ousted and jailed premier Nawaz Sharif trailed in second with 64 seats.

Developed by a small tech team, the CMS was a key response to Khan’s bitter complaints after the 2013 poll loss that his party failed to translate mass popularity into votes because it did not know the “art of winning elections”.

Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) ran a more erratic campaign, hurt by divisions within the party and the loss of key leaders who were either disqualified or in case of Sharif and his daughter, jailed.

Weeks before the elections, Khan sent out a video via WhatsApp urging PTI candidates to embrace CMS.

“I have seen and experienced how it works and I’m using it in all five constituencies I am contesting,” Khan said in the video message, seen by Reuters. “The faster you apply this system, the easier your life will become,” Khan added.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 7, 2018 at 7:44pm

BBC News - #Pakistan's first lawmaker of #African descent raises hopes for #Sidi community. Sidis descended from #slaves brought to #India from East #Africa by #Portuguese. Their ancestors were also soldiers, traders, pearl divers, #Muslim pilgrims. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-45099970

Pakistan is set to have its first ever lawmaker of African descent, raising the profile of a small and mostly poor community that has been in the region for centuries.

Tanzeela Qambrani, 39, was nominated by the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to a women's reserved seat in the regional parliament of southern Sindh province.

She hopes her nomination after last month's election will help wash away the stigma attached to the Sidi community, the local name for the ethnic African population concentrated in the coastal regions of Makran and Sindh.

"As a tiny minority lost in the midst of local populations, we have struggled to preserve our African roots and cultural expression, but I look forward to the day when the name Sidi will evoke respect, not contempt," Ms Qambrani, whose ancestors came from Tanzania, told the BBC.

Many Sidis are believed to be descended from slaves brought to India from East Africa by the Portuguese. Historians say their ancestors were also soldiers, traders, pearl divers and Muslim pilgrims.

They enjoyed senior positions during the Mughal empire but faced discrimination under British colonial rule.

Estimates put their population in Pakistan in the tens of thousands. They are well-integrated but keep alive some traditions, including an annual festival that blends Islamic mysticism, crocodiles and singing in a blend of Swahili and a local language called Baluchi.

Sidi communities also live in the Indian states of Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

The Sidis dominate the Lyari district of Karachi and have been staunch supporters of the PPP, now chaired by Benazir Bhutto's son, Bilawal Zardari Bhutto.

However, no Sidi had ever made it to parliament until Mr Bhutto Zardari nominated Ms Qambrani for the reserved seat.

"Just as Columbus discovered America, Bilawal has discovered Sidis," said Ms Qambrani, whose great-grandparents came to Sindh from Tanzania.

The PPP came third in the recent general election, which was won by former cricketer Imran Khan's PTI party. However the PPP again won the most seats in the Sindh provincial assembly.

Can Imran Khan change Pakistan?
Ms Qambrani, a computer science postgraduate with three children, hails from the coastal area of Badin. Her father, Abdul Bari, was a lawyer while her mother is a retired school teacher.

Her family has kept its African connections alive; one of her sisters was married in Tanzania, while another has a husband from Ghana.

"When my sister married a Ghanaian husband, local youths and guests from Ghana put on such a show in our neighbourhood," she said.

"They danced those typical Sidi steps to the Mogo drumbeat which they say comes from Ghana but which we've traditionally played in our homes. You couldn't tell a Sidi dancer apart from an African."

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 15, 2018 at 5:19pm

The minority women taking on Pakistan's political elite to campaign for better health

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/15/minority-women-taking-p...

hen Sunita Parmar Menghwar became frustrated at the lack of health care, water and education in her corner of Pakistan, she had little hope existing politicians would improve things.

Believing her community had been neglected and betrayed by the political elite, she decided instead to take matters into her own hands, and stand for election herself.

For people like Mrs Parmar, Pakistan's politics is not an easy world to enter.

As well as a Hindu woman in a country that is 96 per cent Muslim, she is also one of Pakistan's 40 so-called scheduled castes – those at the bottom of the caste hierarchy who are known in neighbouring India as dalits, or untouchables.

In a country where politics is often the preserve of a dynastic elite or the sport of feudal landowners, to contest an open seat as a minority woman is almost unheard of.

Undaunted, the 39-year-old from Tharparkar last month joined a handful of women from similar castes and religious minorities elsewhere in the country, trying to get elected onto Pakistan's provincial or national assemblies.

While their numbers were small and none of the independent candidates were elected, the very fact they even stood, often to improve health and education, has been described as a milestone by campaigners.

“I took this stand for the people of Tharparkar, for the people of my ‘status’,” she told the Telegraph.

“Because they don’t have representatives to voice their concerns. Thar has always been ruled by the feudal class, but they have given us nothing. They only visit us during election time to collect votes. They give money in exchange for votes, and people accept it out of greed. And then they leave.”

“Our people don’t realise the importance of their vote – they sell themselves. The people of Thar do not have roads, water to drink, hospitals, schools – the basic necessities of life.”

Pakistan's minorities have this year seen the first election of a female, scheduled caste Hindu senator, Krishna Kumari Kohli. At the time of her election she vowed to work for the “empowerment of women, their health, and education”.

Pakistan's assembly has 70 seats reserved for minorities and women, but the general election also saw the first election of a Hindu politician to a general seat, Mahesh Kumar Malan.

Seema Maheshwari, a human rights activist in Sindh, said the fact many of the 10 minority women had stood for general seats as independents in the rural parts of the province or in the port of Karachi was a “sea change”.

She said it was sign of growing confidence among women. She said: “We can see that not only male persons, but also female persons can stand. Women think they are adults, they are citizens, they are also human beings.”

Basic healthcare, clean water and education were often the core of their election demands.

The Thar desert in Sindh province is one of the most deprived parts of the country and its residents are largely Hindu.

Mrs Parmar, a university graduate from the local city of Mithi, said: “In particular, I would like to open a hospital that has a gynecology department, with all the equipment and tools for delivery, so women don’t have to travel far. The way it is in other places. Many women die during child birth.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 30, 2018 at 7:54am

'Much Like #Brazil, #Pakistan's left has destroyed itself – and this is how'. #Ideology alone is not enough unless it is followed up with meaningful action. #PPP #ANP #PTI #PMLN https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brazil-election-pakistan-imran...

As the once unthinkable happens in Brazil and far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro takes the helm, one would think that the self-combustion of its leftist parties would serve as a stark warning to counterparts across the globe. However, this seems to just be the continuation of a larger trend that saw Israel elect Netanyahu, India elect Modi and the US elect Trump.

In a similar vein, elections in Pakistan saw its leftist parties, once a formidable force, relegated to an afterthought as Imran Khan’s centre-right Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) surged in the polls.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the largest self-proclaimed progressive party in the country, saw its vote bank all but disappear nationwide, except for its provincial stronghold of Sindh, where it rules through the patronage of influential feudal families.


After decades of empty rhetoric, chronic mismanagement and perceptions of institutional corruption on a massive scale, supporters abandoned the party in droves, flocking to the PTI, which offered accountability and change. Only the most ardent of Bhutto loyalists remain supportive outside of Sindh.


Take for instance the nutrition crisis in Thar, where countless children died from preventable diseases, and levels of malnutrition were at times comparable with those in Chad or Niger. Under the PPP’s rule, the situation only deteriorated with time, with the local administration proving inept at providing food, water and aid. Not even extensive coverage in the national media could get the PPP to up its game, and all that people received were empty platitudes and no action. They did, however, announce that those villages would get free wifi, which was clearly a priority for residents without basic necessities.

For all its lofty progressive rhetoric, the PPP is a party built on the back of feudalism – akin to modern slavery. Feudal lords, or Waderas, as they are known in Sindh, are notorious for flouting the rule of law and often consider themselves untouchable, as the state institutions turn a blind eye to their activities. Such is the perception amongst the general populace that a song parodying the excess of feudal culture called Waderai Ka Baita (Son of Feudal) by comedian Ali Gul Pir was an overnight success and turned him into a household name.

A clip of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Saqib Nisar, visiting the prison cell of Shahrukh Jatoi, a member of an influential feudal family, guilty of murdering a police officer’s son, expressing his anger at the favourable facilities illegally being provided to him went viral recently. The sight of Jatoi smirking while the Chief Justice lambasted the jail officials caused tremendous outrage in a country where there often seems to be no accountability for the rich and politically connected.

----------

The Pakistani left is crying out for representation but there are no credible contenders. Jibran Nasir, an independent candidate who won widespread acclaim for never backing down in his fight for Ahmadi rights, and to a lesser extent Ammar Rashid of the tiny Awami Workers Party, do show great promise but lack any significant political clout.

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