Beating about the bush

23

BOTH the Government and the Opposition continue to beat about the bush over the issue of horse-trading and use of unfair means to win elections.

Allegations of rigging made Daska bye-elections controversial, echoes of use of money in the Senate elections are still reverberating and now hue and cry is being made by both sides over the possibility of change of loyalties in the election for the coveted office of the Chairman Senate.

There is no denying the fact that manipulation of elections has become a stigma for our politics and electoral system but regrettably nothing is in sight to check this unfortunate trend.

Saner voices have been emphasizing the need to forge consensus on electoral reforms, a process that has been left half way due to self-centred strategies of the treasury and the opposition benches, and further strengthening of the power and authority of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) so as to making the electoral process trustworthy.

Ironically, instead of encouraging the ECP, both sides try to pressurize the Commission to influence the election process in their favour.

What happened in Daska is indefensible as the disappearance of about two dozen presiding officers with ballots and election material raised serious questions about tampering of the results but despite all this the Commission is criticized for its decision to hold fresh polling in the constituency.

Similarly, no right minded person approved what son of Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani was caught doing and use of money for votes but what the Government has done to penalize its own members who were at the centre of horse-trading.

Why no action has been taken against them when the Interior Minister claims to have full details of 17 members, 13 of which made money during Senate elections? And with elections for the office of the Chairman Senate approaching fast, the Government claims its members are being approached for purchase of votes and the Opposition is alleging its members are receiving threatening phone calls.

Under these circumstances, the electoral process is losing credibility in the eyes of the people and this could be catastrophic for the nascent democratic and parliamentary system.

Even fresh elections might be considered tainted if nothing was done to lend credence to the system.