Thursday, February 14, 2008

This mood of hopelessness is contaminating all of us

Pakistan's electoral process has been stifled by the spectre of suicide bombings and the long shadow of Musharraf
  • The Guardian,
  • Thursday February 14 2008
Earlier this month in Pakistan, a popular television show instructed viewers on the proper method of casting a ballot in the coming elections. The programme was the satirical 4 Man Show, and the elections in question are being run by a music channel to determine the people's choice for best VJ. The subtext to the skit was the listlessness surrounding those other elections in Pakistan, scheduled for February 18.

On the streets of Karachi there are few visible signs of campaigning, aside from banners announcing various constituency candidates. But many of those banners have been in place since the run-up to the January 8 elections, which were postponed following Benazir Bhutto's assassination, and the slogans on the Pakistan People's party banners - The Return of Benazir is the Return of Hope - now sound a note of doom.

It's easy to find the reason for the absence of the large-scale rallies that usually characterise campaigns: suicide bombings. It hasn't been just Benazir's rallies - first her homecoming rally on October 18, then the election rally on December 27 - that have been targeted. Over the past weekend, there was a suicide bombing at an Awami National party rally in the volatile North-West Frontier Province, killing 27.

Continued . . .

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