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February 2008





Editors' Notes

Pakistan Blog



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Pakistan: "We Routed the Men with Beards!"

Russia: Who Is Mr. Medvedev?

Russia: Let the Campaigning Begin, Sort of

"Welcome to Democracy, Pakistan-Style"

The View From London: "Anyone But Bush!"



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Pakistan: "We Routed the Men with Beards!"

Election count, Karachi.

Party workers at information booths in Karachi check voter's registration numbers.

Karachi erupted in celebrations soon after the last votes were cast in Pakistan's parliamentary elections. Thousands of people took to the streets, gun shots were fired in the air, music blasted through speakers at main roads, young men with painted faces joyously waved their party flags. And as the night grew darker, and the unofficial results poured in, they were joined by others who danced the night away. The 2008 elections in Pakistan, barring a few violent incidents, ended peacefully. Turnout was low -- perhaps people feared attacks -- but the results were a stunning rebuke to President Pervez Musharraf's ruling party.

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Russia: Who Is Mr. Medvedev?

Dmitri Medvedev and Vladimir Putin.

Presidential candidate Dmitri Medvedev (left) with Russia's President Vladimir Putin. Image: Corbis

I'm sure no one in Russia doubts that Dmitri Medvedev will be the next president. That became clear last December, when Putin announced him as his chosen successor. Without exception, Russian newspapers immediately began to report that only the Kremlin's man could continue "the course Putin had charted." Since then, though, there's been a curious about-face. State media has virtually stopped using words and phrases that link the two politicians. The closer the election draws, the weaker the link becomes. Even media outlets outside Russia are beginning to ask if Medvedev might be more than Putin's puppet.

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Russia: Let the Campaigning Begin, Sort of

Reporter, Artyom Khan.

What's remarkable about Russia's 2008 presidential campaign is the near total absence of campaigning. Many experts in Moscow have noticed this, but I was in Omsk, in the heartland, recently, and average Russians were saying the same thing. One evening, I talked with theater actor Timofei Grekov across his kitchen table, just as dissidents used to do in Soviet times.

"Who are you going to vote for?" I asked.

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"Welcome to Democracy, Pakistan-Style"

Election street banner.

Election banner on the streets of Karachi.

Editor's Note: On the eve of tense elections in Pakistan, where more than 50 people were killed in pre-election violence over the weekend, FRONTLINE/World's Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy visits the neighborhoods around her home city of Karachi where she reports that ballot rigging, coercion and intimidation are all taking place. Although the government has stressed this election will be free and fair, one smaller-party candidate told Obaid-Chinoy, "In this illiterate country of ours, fear, intimidation, and harassment get you votes. Until that culture is destroyed, Pakistan will never have democracy."

Even before the first vote has been cast, there are fears of massive rigging. Leaders of the two major opposition parties, the Pakistan People's Party and the Pakistan Muslim League, have already warned that the elections will not be free and fair. To average Pakistanis, the February 18th election is merely a game played out at the behest of the Americans.

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The View From London: "Anyone But Bush!"

London streets

A young reader of The Sunday Times, in London's Piccadilly.


U.S. presidential races are something of a mystery to most British voters. Here a primary is a school for kids under 11 and McCain is a type of oven chip. We have no idea what a caucus is or why there isn't one simple first-past-the-post vote for the Republican and Democrat presidential nomination. So it's not surprising that much of the race for the White House coverage in the UK has focused on personalities.

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