Cricket star support surges in Pakistan’s election

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner
May 10, 2013

Pakistan prepares for weekend election, Bangladeshi woman pulled from rubble after 17 days, and EU-bound Croatia may miss out. Today is Friday, May 10, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.


Imran Khan, Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician and chairman of political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), addresses his supporters after his visit to mausoleum of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder and first governor-general of Pakistan, during an election campaign in Karachi, May 7, 2013.

Hospitalized Pakistani playboy gains in the polls. Pollsters expect the party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to win the most parliamentary seats in Pakistan’s general election on Saturday, but a late surge of support for former cricket star Imran Khan suggests the country could see a rocky political landscape after the votes are in:

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. In a sign of his popularity, 35,000 supporters turned up on Thursday at a rally in Islamabad that he didn’t even attend.

This year’s election marks the first time Pakistan will transition from one civilian government to another. The price of democracy is high, however, with more than 110 people killed in election-related violence. The Pakistan Taliban revealed on Thursday that they planned suicide attacks for election day, however did not take responsibility for the kidnapping of the son of a former prime minister. Pakistan’s new leaders must reckon with not only the Taliban, but also the country’s fragile economy. Analysts predict that the newly-elected government will first turn to the IMF for more bailout funds, a task that will be hampered by a fragmented coalition.

Bangladesh survival story. Rescuers pulled a woman from a collapsed building on Friday after she spent 17 days trapped beneath rubble:

Hundreds of onlookers burst into cheers as army engineers pulled the woman from the basement of the building after a workman helping to clear the wreckage reported hearing her faint cries of “Save me, save me” from beneath the ruins. Pale, drawn and seemingly unable to walk, the woman, identified by Bangladeshi media only as Reshma, was hoisted out of the rubble on a stretcher, then loaded into an ambulance in scenes broadcast live on television.

Rescue workers think the woman survived by drinking water used to douse a fire that blazed through the building’s remains after it fell. The complex’s collapse killed more than 1,000 people at last count. The tragedy has prompted investigations into Bangladesh’s garment industry and the role Western companies play in contributing to dangerous work conditions. Ties between local politician Towhid Jung Murad and building owner Sohel Rana spotlighted corruption in Bangladesh’s government.

Croatia may have missed the prosperity boat. Croatia will enter the EU on July 1, but its reputation among investors as being unfriendly to business will make it difficult for the country to experience growth:

Weak foreign direct investment has contributed to a recession that has lasted four years. The current Social Democrat-led government has made improving the business climate its top priority to spur growth… But the challenges facing the country of 4.4 million people are great. Croatia ranked 84th on the World Bank’s 2012 ease of doing business list, dropping four places from 2011 behind poorer Balkan neighbors Macedonia and Montenegro and former Soviet republics such as Armenia, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. It ranked even worse in terms of investor protection, property registration and construction permits.

Croatia spent seven years in accession talks, telling citizens that joining the EU will lead to an economic boom, an opportunity the country may miss out on. Some say Croatia could prosper if it cut red tape and taxes, and created a stable legal framework for foreign businesses. But successive governments have avoided real reform, afraid of becoming unpopular for cutting welfare and public sector funding.

Nota Bene: Amazon Indians in traditional dress march and block heavy machinery to protest the construction of a hydroelectric dam.

Standouts:

Dissident’s daring escape - The inside story of a dissident blogger’s getaway from Bahrain. (The Atlantic)

All or nothing - Reuters columnist Ian Bremmer argues that Obama must decide on Syria, now. (Reuters)

Catty campaign - A live tiger is Pakistani candidate’s Nawaz Sharif’s roaring mascot. (The Wall Street Journal)

Spokesman scandal - South Korean President Park Geun-hye sent her spokesman packing from DC after he allegedly groped an intern. (The New York Times)

Underground dealings - Kofi Annan said that Africa has been robbed of natural wealth by secret mining deals. (BBC)

From the File:

  • North Korea says jailed American missionary plotted downfall of state
  • India minister resigns, TV says, government does not confirm
  • Africa’s emerging middle class drives growth and democracy
  • “Too pretty” label mars South Korean boxing starlet’s win
  • Leading Bulgaria parties tied before Sunday vote

 

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