DESPITE repeated appeals launched by the leadership of the national institutions as well as saner elements of the society not to drag these institutions into muddy politics, the abhorring practice of institution bashing continues as they are being maligned even on false perceptions and on the basis of false news.
The nation is already deeply polarized and the tendency of discrediting national institutions or making them controversial will have serious consequences for overall stability of the country.
Pakistan Army and the judiciary are consistently being maligned apparently for self-centred motives and agenda but nowadays the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is bearing the brunt of poisonous propaganda in the backdrop of campaigning for by-elections to 20 seats of the Punjab Assembly and anticipated verdict on foreign funding case which has been reserved by the Commission and can be delivered anytime.
It seems a narrative is being built to make the results of the by-elections controversial and this is evident from the latest statement of one of the central leaders of PTI Asad Umar, who alleged that ‘interference’ was afoot to change the results of the upcoming by-polls, hurling the accusations that the Government was changing voters lists and using state machinery to benefit ex-PTI candidates the ruling parties were backing.
Allegations were also levelled by PTI Chairman Imran Khan against Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja during his address to a gathering in Khushab.
All this prompted the Election Commission to come out with a strong rejoinder, condemning baseless allegations against CEC, saying no institution could become a traitor by issuing edicts of treason.
The statement of the Commission also referred to a barrage of allegations levelled by the PTI Secretary-General against the electoral body clarifying that by-elections of July 17 are being held on the old final electoral rolls and that the electoral list is approved after the Election Commission announces the polls schedule to make it easier to create a polling scheme.
Rubbishing the allegations that the voters’ lists are being tampered, the statement emphasized that after the announcement of election schedule, there can be no change in the voters list, no vote can be registered or excluded; no change can be made in the voters data.
It added that media-driven voters’ registration statements are nothing but a gross propaganda technique by which the people are being misled, expressing resolve that the Commission is committed to conducting transparent and peaceful elections in 20 supplementary constituencies in collaboration with other institutions and this will be ensured.
Contrary to ground realities and analyses by independent experts, PTI Chairman and Secretary General have claimed that the party would win all the twenty seats, which is also an attempt to prepare grounds for making results controversial as PTI could not win any by-election in Punjab even when it was in power in the province.
Ironically, the Election Commission is being targeted by the PTI leadership despite some recent decisions of the Commission that went in favour of the party in the prevailing messy political situation.
The Commission notified five women members of the Punjab Assembly belonging to PTI, which has augmented the strength of the party ahead of elections for the office of the Chief Minister.
It also suspended (till holding of by-elections on 17th) the implementation of the widely hailed decision of the provincial government to provide free of cost electricity to all families consuming 100 units a month.
The Commission did so despite the fact that the allocations for the purpose were budgeted and the relief was not meant just for people in 17 constituencies but the entire province.
It, however, seems an elaborate narrative is being propagated to give credibility to the allegations of rigging in case the outcome of the polls went against the party.
This is because apart from the ECP, accusing fingers are also being raised towards intelligence agencies despite categorical statements by the relevant leadership that their men will have nothing to do with the by-elections.
Imran Khan also alleged that a “man based in Lahore” was “trying to help the PML-N win by-elections on 20 seats.
PTI is also claiming that its leaders and workers are receiving threatening phone calls from unknown numbers.
Baseless propaganda against ECP notwithstanding, the fact remains the incumbent CEC is a man of integrity and hopefully, under his supervision, the Commission would succeed in holding highly transparent and fair by-elections.