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Thursday January 27, 2022

NA-133 video scandal: It’s a trailer of a bigger sleazy movie ahead of next polls

November 30, 2021
NA-133 video scandal: It’s a trailer of a bigger sleazy movie ahead of next polls

ISLAMABAD: The surfacing of purported vote-buying video clips in the by-election for NA-133 Lahore is just a trailer of a bigger motion picture that may be played in the next fiercely-fought general elections.

This is indicative of the mucky episodes in the future parliamentary polls. Already the by-elections, specifically the Daska by-poll, held over more than three years did not present a laudable spectacle by any standards of electoral activity.

The ongoing name calling and blame trading between the PML-N and the PPP in the instant case portends the type of election campaign the two parties will run against each other and the PTI, and vice versa.

This kind of soiled environment has drowned to a large extent the decency, civility and values that used to be observed in the electoral competitions. Any political figure that bursts out most brainless and mindless remarks against his rivals is hailed by his boss for being innovative and aptly aggressive. He receives pats on the back to continue the tirade in the same tone and tenor. The last five years are replete with barbs taking the atmosphere to an unprecedented despicable level. The unfortunate aspect is that no effort is being made by any significant political player to talk about infusing some sort of decorum in politics.

In such a scenario, the responsibility and duty of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has increased manifold. So far, the ECP led by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja has promptly acted to curb the gangsterism, fakery and official meddling in the electoral process and given a message loud and clear to political actors that it would not hesitate to proceed regardless of the power, influence and official position of the delinquent.

As far as the two video clips showing purchase of votes by the PMLN and PPP are concerned, the ECP has taken notice of them and asked the concerned top administration officials to probe the allegations and submit a report about them. On the receipt of their findings, the ECP will take the process of penalizing such political elements to a logical conclusion.

The greatest test case for the ECP was the rigged Daska by-election and the ECP passed it with flying colours. In the light of the damning findings prepared by a high-level ECP committee, it has already taken action against its two own officers, who were deployed in the constituency to hold the by-poll. But there is much more in this report that requires implementation. It documented the gross illegalities, misdeeds and misconduct of the senior officials working in Sialkot and Gujranwala districts which they committed to favour the PTI candidate.

The present tussle between the PMLN and PPP caused by the Lahore by-election is not new. On such occasions, they do harangue each other. But as the dust settles, they turn to their somewhat normal relationship and cooperation inside the parliament against the ruling coalition. Same is expected to happen once again.

The PPP, which has awarded the ticket to one of its committed old guard for NA-133, is engaged in a do or die scramble to prove that it can’t be wished away in Punjab by detractors. In the general elections, its candidate had bagged around 5,000 votes in this constituency, which reflected its extremely dismal standing.

In the 2018 elections, PPP aspirant Aslam Gill, who has also been sponsored in the by-poll, had stood on the fourth position by bagging only 5,585 votes as against 89,699 ballots of the PMLN representative Pervez Malik (now deceased). PTI candidate Ejaz Chaudhry had secured 77,293 votes while another Matloob Ahmad had got 13,235 ballots.

The PPP is struggling hard to stage a comeback in Punjab where it was decimated in the 2013 parliamentary polls. In the following general elections, it went further down to a position from where only a miracle can pull it out. No wonder has taken place over the last seven years that has improved its electoral prospects. In all the by-elections in Punjab, the PPP was seen nowhere near clinching any respectable number of votes.

With the PTI cardholder’s knockout on technical grounds from NA-133, the fight has mainly been left between the PMLN and PPP representatives. The first video clip that hit social media pertained to the alleged vote buying by the PPP. Later, a similar clip appeared showing the PMLN purchasing votes. This appeared to be a tit-for-tat. The gap of a few hundred or even thousand votes may be bridged through such sleazy tactics, but it seems difficult to cover a huge margin. This fact will be proved on Dec 5, the day of polling.

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