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Karachi

August 20, 2018

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Karachi University lecture dissects last month’s general elections

In the political system of the country, the good sense of political parties lies in inducting electables and of the electables in joining the party that they consider to be on the same page with the establishment.

Dr Syed Jaffar Ahmed, a professor at the University of Karachi, made this remark during his lecture on democracy in Pakistan that was held on Saturday at the Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences to conduct a critical analysis of last month’s general elections.

Dr Ahmed said that when Pakistan came into being, it inherited two customs from the British: a strong state apparatus and a political system conforming to its norms. He said that after the partition of the Indian subcontinent the state grew stronger because, unlike before, the military found itself more in a position to not be answerable to anyone.

The professor said the civil-military imbalance has existed in the country since the selection of its first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan. He added that there have been two governments since then: one that is visible and the other that remains behind the scenes.

Usually it is said that politicians are corrupt and that the army has to intervene to put the house in order, he said, asking then why the army has to leave power to the civilians. “[This transition] happens only when the federation lands in jeopardy,” explained Dr Ahmed and cited the example of Balochistan during the rule of Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf.

The KU professor said the levelling of corruption charges against politicians has been going on since 1948, when Sindh’s first chief minister Ayub Khuhro was dismissed over them. He added that these allegations have not stopped because, he claimed, the system itself is corrupt. “Even if you find angels, they will level such allegations against them.”

About the recent elections he said a wave was fabricated to make the people, especially the youth, think that only Imran Khan can lead the country out of its crises and that his rivals stand no chance.

“In my personal opinion, Khan and his team are inexperienced and they are surrounded by technocrats who do nothing but take quantitative measures,” added Dr Ahmed. Journalist Ali Arqam pointed out that only those political parties have been successful that could spend enormously on electioneering and that those with low budgets generally failed.

He said voters had complained about facing difficulties in finding their respective polling stations, as some said their stations were set up in areas distant from their neighbourhoods while others said the 8300 SMS service was not responding.

“The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, though, had an advantage. The party had obtained data from the Election Commission of Pakistan and fed it into its software, and apparently that’s why more rush was seen at its camps, because they kept facilitating the voters when others could not.”

Awami Workers Party Sindh President Bakhshal Thalho, speaking about the participation of the left in the elections, complained that activists belonging to this ideology are being barred from taking part in politics. He claimed that on August 14 alone, at least 30 activists were picked up in Sindh. “Our society is being dealt with in the way an illiterate doctor treats a live body.”

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