Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Pakistan Election Begins Amid Allegations Of Intimidation And Rigging

Wednesday's election in Pakistan marks the second time in the country's 71-year history that power will be passed from one civilian government to another. But the weeks leading to the vote have been marred by extreme violence. Activists, journalists and candidates say the campaign was tainted, throwing a fragile democratic process into question.

"There were huge complaints about what happened in the lead-up this time around," says Omar Waraich, deputy South Asia director at Amnesty International. "We've had very serious allegations about arbitrary detentions, about restrictions on the media, about attacks on people's rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression."

Some candidates have shifted their allegiances to rival parties or run as independents, suggesting pressure or intimidation. Journalists contend that their reporting is being suppressed. And there are accusations of interference by the military, which has used its might in the past to stage coups and oust leaders.

"The fact that you have the relentless efforts to crack down on dissent and the media — you're seeing democratic institutions being besieged in Pakistan, and that bodes ill for democratization," says Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

Voting day came after a spate of terrorist attacks killing civilians and politicians — including a suicide bombing in the provincial town of Mastung that killed more than 150 people at a campaign rally. To prepare for the tens of millions of people expected to vote, police blocked off roads and cleared buildings for the counting of ballots. Hundreds of thousands of troops were deployed to polling stations and police in Pakistan's northwest have deployed surveillance vehicles to stream live video. - More

Pakistan Election Begins Amid Allegations Of Intimidation And Rigging


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