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National News
June 19,2018

Indispensability of fair and timely elections

Akram Shaheedi

Elections, generally, play crucial role for further shaping up the destiny of a nation during the post elections period. If the holding of elections is not only fair, free and impartial but also seen to be so its propitious impact on the national development and beyond may be hugely amazing by any stretch of imagination. If the elections though held fair, free and impartial but results are not accepted by those who are seeking to be in the saddle by hook or crook, or by those who seek contemplation of their parochial interest in rocking the boat, the political apocalyptic is foregone conclusion to the collective chagrin of the nation. They may be eventually brought in the dock by history but immediate aftermaths of their shenanigans may cause damage beyond redemption. The nation had enough of this during the stent of the previous time when few parties relentlessly fabricated to topple the elected government but failed because majority of the parties led by the PPP abort their perfidious plan to disrupt the continuity of the democratic process in Pakistan. Democracy survived but its antagonists thankfully left with no choice but to reconcile in humiliation, and resorted to tactical retreat in consonance with gambler courage.

The perennial lurking of the typical forces has not been fully discouraged because they seem determined to repeat the history if people’s verdict deny them entry into the corridors of power. Such political forces give scant consideration of compunction to their having earlier caused havoc in the shape of political instability through the promotion of factional politics based on allegations, insults and invective language. The forthcoming general election may decide if the people like their style of politicking or inclined towards the parliamentary politics reflective of the incremental equanimity of best democratic practices. The mood of the people at present seemingly suggests that they may favour parliamentary/decent politics over the petty politics that was responsible for creating fault-lines in the national politics. The politics had never come to this pass earlier as it was being played like a blood sport. The heavy tilt of the people in favour of democratic rule lends credence to the presumption that the people may cast their vote in favour of those political forces those are tilted in favour of decent and parliamentary politics. That will be virtue indeed sprouting out of chest-thumbing.

Former Opposition and PPP leader, Syed Khursheed Shah, has repeatedly warned the unforgiving consequences for the country if elections are not held on time or if these are not fair, free and impartial. The holding of forthcoming elections must not fall short of credibility and impartiality criterion. His comment is invaluable in the context of the fair elections that could be source of immense strength for the country. Alternatively, these may unleash cascade of poisonous ravages if elections are rigged, manipulated or eclipsed with political engineering by the anti-democratic forces or the state institutions. His portrayal of the possible scenario may not be discounted altogether under the conditions. The rumors of meddling in the political process have been making around. The perception may become bigger than reality if tangible efforts are not made repeatedly to address the reverberating doubts shrouded in mystery. The inaction in this regard may roil the political environment detrimental to the imperatives of enabling political environment.

The statements/observations of the Chief justice of Pakistan expressing institutional unequivocal support in favour of the constitutional rule, holding of free and fair elections and standing up to any attempt against the law, overt or covert, are very reassuring to the nation tantamount to almost iron-clad guarantees. The nation took the sigh of relief as the chief justice’s clear cut stance extricated the people from the torture of the uncertainty that was earlier suffocating them badly. They were not so sure earlier as what was going to happen to the country.

The overwhelming majority of the political leadership’s clear cut position in favour of the continuity of the democratic process as per the constitution surely raised the comfort level of the nation that was earlier covered under the blanket of political uncertainty. The political developments seem heading steadily but surely in the desired direction so far as the holding the general elections on 25th of July are concerned. The Election Commission seems to have fully geared up at the accelerated speed to undertake the constitutional responsibility holistically. The caretaker set-ups are in place both at national and provincial levels deeply dedicated in assisting the ECP. The process of submission of nomination and scrutiny of papers is fully in progress to finalist the list of candidates poised to contest the elections later next month.

The army chief’s reiterations, quite often, to support the democratic process and the constitutional rule may have further shed the black clouds of hopelessness and uncertainty earlier hovering on the political horizon of the country. His recent statement to augment the cause of rule of law at all cost may not be overemphasised. The assistance of the security establishment is absolutely critical to hold peaceful elections in the country in the face of the grave threats emanating from the terrorist entities and the anti-democratic forces. These are notorious to go to any extent for the culmination of their toxic agenda. Chaos, uncertainty and anarchic conditions offer them the ideal conditions to fulfill their agenda based on imposition, enslavement and eventually elimination of the forces of tolerance and pluralism.

Unfortunately, the allegations of political engineering, mechanisations and manipulations keep on to find space in the news and views those are required to be handled aptly and urgently in order to leave behind not even an iota of doubt because stakes are very high as the nation has to resume the journey of national development after the elections as a responsible nation. These allegations may be still hanging in the air and therefore require urgent rebuttal focusing on specific points. The politician not less than the stature of Secretary General of MMA, Liaquat Baloch, has recently alleged state institutions’ churlish interference in the electoral process that still required comprehensive contradiction from the concerned quarters. PPP senior leader also pointed finger to the possible vagaries of the “system” destined to meddle the democratic process. Another PPP leader, Farhatullah Babar, while addressing a seminar in Islamabad had also hinted to when he questioned as why the turncoats (Electable) were joining the one specific party. It was a valid observation when seen in the present political perspective. The reported accusations of state functionaries making telephone calls urging the electable to either join the party or contest independent candidates were obviously cause of major concern.

These allegations need to be addressed appropriately in the full glare of media. The results should be visible to the people as mere playing to the gallery may not suffice. The aftermaths of Senate elections, making and breaking of Karachi politics akin to ‘farce ‘including the immediate shifting of loyalties in the Southern Punjab etc. may continue to strengthen the perception of pre-poll rigging to some extent. PML-N and its allies spare no opportunity in contributing the in the prevalent perception. Its optics may not accrue dividends to the nation’s liking.

PPP, undoubtedly, is a great source of immense stability for democracy in the country as it stands committed to the democratic process at all cost. Its ideology and practical politics have unquestionably vindicated this narrative throughout. It cannot afford to stand other side considering this unimaginable shift as betrayal to its ideology and great Bhuttos who rendered ultimate sacrifice for nurturing, restoring and continuing democracy in the country. Today’s dawn of democracy in the country is largely attributed to their indefatigable and arduous struggle in the face of ferocious opposition emanating from the vicious anti-democratic forces those had limitless appetite to deprive the people of their rights, especially the poorest of the poor. Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has taken the baton, and the movement is continuing till the full realisation of the mission assigned to him as a custodian of the great legacy of the founding father of the party and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.

Forthcoming general elections may surely reflect the peoples’ choice and not the choice of anyone else because people are the ultimate arbiter. Elections may surely reflect the choice of the people and not of the choice of the institutions. Fiddling with their choice may be the adjudicated as heinous crime against the country amounting to obstructing the fulfillment of the objectives of the constitution. Such fiddling in the past had cast long shadow on the collective destiny of the nation causing irreparable losses to the territorial integrity of the country followed by missed opportunities for the socio-economic uplift of the people. The menace of extremism and terrorism are the legacies of those who imposed their will by suspending/abrogating the constitution, muzzling the national aspirations. Their crime is unforgiving. The history has correctly identified them as responsible for the national humiliations and tragedies.

muhammadshaheediyahoo.com


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