I don’t know much about publishing but I do know that this is er bold. No idea what it’s about
There’s a lull today. After three weeks of campaigning everything has stopped. I’m in a car on the road to Lahore from where I’ll be reporting on the vote tomorrow. Maybe I’m too much of a political junkie but I find election days to be a magical time, filled with optimism and the feeling that anything is possible. After watching last night’s big rallies that’s how I feel now. Whatever happens, change is in the air as the PPP is all but certain to lose its status as the biggest party.
But who will win? It’s all but impossible to forecast the result with any certainty. Here are some thoughts while we wait to find out:
Imran’s barn storming campaign has worked in as much as he is now impossible to ignore
But he still will struggle to convert momentum into seats going up against PML-Ns election juggernaut
Unless turn-out is substantially above 50% – in which case the traditional vote banks will be under pressure
The PPP will not be wiped out – agriculture is still doing OK helping its rural heartlands
But there are no reliable polling data to help work out what is going on
What we are left with is gut feeling, anecdote and an assumption that this election will work the same way as previous ones
Nate Silver would be doing his nut
What if we are all missing the real story of this election because all we have is noise and we can’t find the signal?
What if the consensus is wrong?
I’m not saying Imran will win. Citing his momentum as evidence of seats would be to make the same mistake.
I’m saying we don’t know.
We have heard a lot about the youth vote in this election. Something like 20% of voters are aged 18-25. For many, this will be the first time they have voted. That’s a heck of a lot of votes up for grabs.
Imran Khan appears to have made the biggest inroads. His party is the most active on social media and the rallies of his I’ve attended have been notable for the huge numbers of students or the recently graduated. His message of change, of rejecting a corrupt political elite that has had plenty of opportunities to govern in the past, seems to be resonating with the young and optimistic.
So perhaps it is not surprising that this morning the Pakistan People’s Party has hit back with newspaper adverts pointing out that Imran Khan for all his energy is 60. Instead, it offers 24-year-old Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as the real hope for change, with the tagline:
Only young leadership can bring a revolution!
I’m not in favour of one party or another. But I’m not entirely sure this strategy will work for the PPP. In fact, it may well backfire. Not only is Bilawal so young that he cannot even stand in this election – plastering his image all over the papers reminds us that no-one knows where on earth he is.
The fraudster Jim McCormick who rebranded novelty golf ball detectors as bomb detectors, in a fraud worth more than £55m, was last week sentenced to 10 years in prison. Here’s what the judge said:
“The device was useless, the profit outrageous and your culpability as a fraudster has to be placed in the highest category,” he told McCormick, who now stands to have assets worth millions of pounds confiscated.
Hundreds were used in Iraq and it is possible that wounded Iraqis may be able to claim damages. The devices were also sold to Pakistan.
Here’s how The News in Pakistan reported it:
A source has told The News that the crooked businessman is believed to have sold fake equipment worth millions to Pakistan as well in the last 10 years. When contacted by The News, Pakistani security officials sought more time to find details about the nature of the equipment bought by Pakistan. It will be interesting to see whether the fake bomb detectors were bought by Pakistan’s armed forces or the police services and who facilitated this deal.
You don’t need particularly well-placed sources to confirm that these devices have been in use in Pakistan. You just need to have travelled through Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport in the past few years, where you would have seen police officers walking slowly up and down lines of traffic concentrating hard at the golf ball detector in their hand.
I am writing this blog from the airport departure lounge and, as you can see from the photo above, the devices are still in use. (It’s not a great snap, but best I could do.)
Not so much roses on the road as on the carpet. This bed of petals was laid out in front of the stage last Monday in Attock, where Imran Khan held a rally before some 15,000 people or so, in an area that was presumably supposed to act as a security buffer between him and the crowd. Just before he took the stage, dozens of supporters surged through the barriers and danced to the music that pumped from the speakers, crushing the petals underfoot and sending their scent into the air.
It starts with the music: a pumping rock song that sends power chords crashing through the audience.
Then come the rose petals, great fistfuls thrown overhead, speckling the air red and sending their fragrance through the overheating crowd.
Finally, flanked by armed police officers, Imran Khan bounds on to the stage…
You can hear my RTE World Report here
The pic I posted yesterday is a reminder of the vast number of roses that are stripped of their petals for the election campaign. Here’s a bunch of chaps I met in Karachi in March. They’d brought their truck loaded with rose petals to greet Pervez Musharraf. They were from some sort of workers’ group and were handing out bags of petals to Mush’s supporters. He’s not smelling of roses so much any more…