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> 2013-05-10 12:08:24
Pakistanis prepare to go to the polls
(Vatican Radio) Campaigning in Pakistan has ended on the eve of a landmark election which has been marred with violence. Former Pakistan cricket star Imran Khan's party was enjoying a late surge of support Friday, raising the prospect of a fragmented parliament.
The party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif looks set to win the most seats, returning Sharif to power 14 years after he was ousted in a military coup, imprisoned and later exiled.
But Khan could end up holding the balance of power if there is no clear-cut winner.
As Pakistanis prepare to head to the polls this weekend Lydia O’Kane spoke to Fr Robert McCulloch, the Procurator General of the Missionary Society of St Columban about the challenges for the Christian community in this election.
“I would say first of all there is a problem within Pakistan that they themselves (Christians) are not organized sufficiently in their vote base to ensure that they can influence the elections which they can now because it’s a joint electorate, some political commentators have pointed out that there are some 25 to 30 seats within Pakistan where the Christian vote in that area of five thousand or more is sufficient to swing the election in that particular seat one way or the other. But because Christians are not united sufficiently they are unable to exercise the powerful voice in deciding what would happen…
Fr McCulloch, who lived and worked in Pakistan for 34 years and returns regularly to the country, adds however, “there are certain questions within the whole process, that when one looks at the stance of some of the parties, one has to consider from the point of view of Christians that on past records, on present rhetoric what ‘s going to be the result”.
Election-related violence that has killed more than 110 people continued on the eve of the vote.
The al Qaeda-linked Pakistan Taliban, which regards the elections as un-Islamic, are responsible for the attacks that have made this the country's bloodiest election yet. Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s interview with Fr Robert McCulloch