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Pakistanis 'Defy Violence' To Vote In Landmark Election


By Mark Memmott

Listen Now:
Saturday, May 11, 2013

Despite attacks in the days and weeks leading up to Saturday's voting — and deadly bombings and other attacks on the very day they're going to the polls — Pakistanis are showing they're willing to "defy the violence," NPR's Julie McCarthy reports from Lahore.

There's "a determination to see it through," she tells Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon, and to be part of the "landmark passage of one democratically elected government to another ... [something] that's never happened before" in Pakistan. Voting lines have been long in some parts of the nation, and Julie reports that poll hours were extended in some places.

Later in the day, McCarthy told Weekends on All Things Considered that the election was plagued with problems.

"The voting was subverted in Karachi by deadly violence and banal incompetence," McCarthy says.

Despite the setbacks and even threats to their lives, McCarthy says there was a heavy turnout of voters. The election, she says, really moves Pakistan closer to civilian rule.

For more on the historic election, check some of Julie's earlier reports:

-- Will Imran Khan Shake Up Pakistani Politics This Time?

-- Dozens Die In Run Up To Pakistan's Elections

-- Pakistani Women Still Struggle For A Voice In Politics

-- Violence Mutes Campaigning Ahead Of Pakistani Elections

Update at 11:15 p.m. ET. Former Premier Claims Victory:

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared victory Saturday, though the results have not been officially confirmed. The AP reports, "partial vote counts showed his Pakistan Muslim League-N party with an overwhelming lead."

Al Jazeera has a profile of Sharif, who was ousted in a coup in 1999.

Update at 11:25 a.m. ET. Tweets Signal Taliban's Plans Have 'Failed':

NPR's Steve Inskeep notes that the tone of tweets coming from Pakistan has shifted from bombing news to anticipating election results." That, the Morning Edition host tweets, "suggests Taliban disruption failed."

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