Investigative travelogue: TravElection

One fine night around 3:00 am after my shift as a Bulletin Producer, I was half way through my third packet of Bensons when my phone rang. I would’ve ignored it had it not been the ‘Bittery Sweet Symphony’ ring tone.

That was the sound of my EP calling.

That sixty second conversation decided how I will spend the coming sixty days of my life.  I found out that :

– I was to co-produce and direct 26 episodes

– of an investigative travelogue

– to be shot in 12 different cities

– about the state’s electioneering, candidate activities and public sentiment

-to be broadcast in about two months before the elections

What fun! This is why I love my job.

The show was called TravElection (not a very original title eh…). We went on air in January 2008 covering 37 districts, 10 cities across four provinces. In less than three weeks.

Post Election excerpt:

In the 1990s, and more recently, the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N were rivals, and there is little love between the two camps. The leaders of the parties, Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Sharif, were in exile for nearly a decade until recently, and both tried to run their parties from abroad.

Although the resounding victory of the two parties was broadly welcomed, even deliriously so in some places, there were memories of the failings of the civilian governments in the 1990s. Many Pakistanis agree that neither the government of Ms. Bhutto nor that of Mr. Sharif distinguished itself. Both were riddled with corruption.

Mr. Zardari, a controversial man known in Pakistan for being accused of corruption, has never held elective office. He faces rumblings and distrust in his party, and it was not clear how well negotiations between Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif, which are expected to begin in the coming days, would proceed.

The talks are likely to be protracted, with each side laying down conditions that would be hard for the other to fulfill.

Mr. Sharif, who was ousted as prime minister in 1999 in a coup by Mr. Musharraf, framed his campaign on a distinct anti-Musharraf platform, a tactic that appears to have worked well and that brought his party an unexpectedly strong windfall.

Mr. Zardari sounded a more accommodating tone about Mr. Musharraf.

Analysts said it was possible that Mr. Zardari would even seek to form a coalition with Mr. Musharraf’s party and leave Mr. Sharif’s party outside the government.

Mr. Sharif has been reported to agree to the Peoples Party assuming the post of prime minister in exchange for three things: impeachment proceedings against Mr. Musharraf, the reinstatement of the dismissed chief justice of the Supreme Court and other judges, and the appointment of a leading lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan, as prime minister.

Mr. Ahsan, the leader of the anti-Musharraf lawyers’ movement and president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, is a member of the Peoples Party.

Although the election was considered fairly orderly, an Interior Ministry spokesman, Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema, said Tuesday that 18 people had been killed and 150 wounded in connection with the voting.


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