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Friday, May 3, 2013

In the voice of Sara Urooj, Pakistan - "Pakistan: The land of opportunities?"

By Sara Urooj


Slogans, banners, pamphlets, stickers and rallies have painted each city of Pakistan with color - and why not? - The elections are just around the corner. Every citizen is eagerly anticipating the moment of truth.

But behind all the colors lurks a darker side to the elections, casting a shadow over the great expectations. According to a recent newspaper report, almost every other area of Karachi city is becoming a no go area. Every day the city faces another blast. It is certain that there are some forces which would want to see the Elections being delayed. Additionally, the parties themselves are facing serious security concerns.

One has to wonder thus: Has the situation come to this simply because the extremists want to ensure the election of a government of their choice or is it also possible that certain political parties are conspiring to take over each others voters? According to Mr. Najeeb, an officer of the election commission of the Sindh province,

“Considering the security and safety concerns nationwide, it still remains a possibility that the elections may be delayed. Let us wait and see what the Agencies have say, but in any event, we are up to date with our preparation.”

Which party will take the ground? This is a compelling question, as these elections hold great importance, not only for Pakistan, but internationally. A European Union delegation has been called for the election monitoring mission, and several NGOs are also actively engaged in the monitoring process. The violations that can be expected to take place on Election Day are related to security (and as such, posing danger to the fundamental Right to Life), Rigging, and Prejudice against women and other minorities.

In previous elections, and specifically in some parts of interior Sindh and KPK, women were banned from casting their votes and political parties collaborated with orthodox elements. To a large extent, this meant that the votes of religious minorities and women were not registered. But some political parties are beginning to focus on female voters and as such tapping into a hitherto unutilized resource - one that is certainly a force to be reckoned with as far as numbers go, considering that in Pakistan women make up approximately 52 % of the population. It is also expected that the Election Commission will take appropriate action if women are barred from casting their votes in the forthcoming elections.

As I am writing this, political parties themselves are anxiously waiting for the moment of truth. From the look of things, there are two parties that appear to be leading the race nationally, PAKISTAN TEHREEK-E-INSAF and MUSLIM LEAGUE (N), with party manifestos full of promises for a better Pakistan and their only slogan READY OR NOT HERE I COME...

Sara Urooj is a young woman and human rights activist living in Karachi, Pakistan 

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