Dr Muhammad Khan
Upon completion of another democratic transformation, it appears that, democracy has finally taken roots in Pakistan. This is third consecutive and successful political and democratic transformation in the 71 years history of Pakistan. Rather the 71st Independence Day was celebrated by Pakistani nation with the formation of a new National Assembly and new faces for the national leadership. Imran Khan has assumed the office of Prime Minister with parallel elections for the chief ministers in all provinces. Overall, the transformation has been peaceful and positive as hailed by people of Pakistan and international community. As per the report of ‘Common Wealth Observer Group’ which observed the election process in Pakistan (Election – 2018), there been positive indicators.
The Common Wealth (CW) observer group observed in its report that, despite the wave of terrorism and attacks on politicians of different parties, the role of voters, election and polling staff, security forces and political parties have been commendable. CW also appreciated the peaceful environment, the armed forces provided to all political parties including independent candidates and the turn out by voters. Whereas, the political parties are criticizing the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the CW appreciated it for its timely preparation except RTS, which delayed the results. CW quoted the people saying that, presence of Army personnel inside the polling stations made the process smooth and fair. Overall, the election process was appreciated by all observers groups; the domestic and international.
Domestically, Elections-2018 brought some major upsets for the traditional politicians of Pakistan. The pattern of election results indicate that, four categories of politicians have been rejected by the aware masses of Pakistan for the first time in the history of Pakistan. One; the people of Pakistan have rejected the religious feudalism, the religio-political party leaders, particularly, who have been using the religion for their own political and vested interests, thus mislead people and defamed Pakistan. These hypocrites could not satisfied the people, thus now repentant and accusing the ECP and institutions.
The second category includes the political feudalists, the politicians who have been making use of politics to subjugate the people without doing anything for their education and socio-economic development. For the decades now, these feudal have been exploiting the successive generations of Pakistani masses on the names of family, area, or else on the basis of haves and haves not. These politicians were queried even during the election campaign and later voted out in many areas, there is a need of another filtration process for their complete eviction.
The third category of rejected class include; the traditional sub-nationalists, who while enjoying perks and privileges as members of Pakistani parliament (even ministers) have been singing the songs of others countries and those international and regional forces, which never accepted a string and prosperous Pakistan. Such sub-nationalists created a split among the masses on the name of ethnicity or provincialism or else were not in the favour of Pakistan becoming a reality in 1947. The masses could clearly identify them for rejection during 2018 Elections.
It is worth mentioning that, among the rejected class of politicians there are descendants of those, who theoretically and practically opposed the creation of Pakistan and upon death did not like to be buried in Pakistani territory. Imagine the hate, they have for the state and society of Pakistan and their followers are enjoying as rulers and decision makers of Pakistan. The masses of Pakistan have correctly sorted them out for their covert and overt activities, they still involved into.
The fourth category consists of extremist forces, who have been promoting radicalization and extremism among masses under the cover of religion and sects and now decided to assume a political role for proliferation of their ideologies into socities. It was their first attempt and though they got reasonable votes in some cases, but, this for sure that, they too will meet a humiliating defeat, if such a filtration process of election is allowed to continue in a free and fair environment. Pakistan cannot afford such people at any level.
The awareness campaign among the masses owes a lot to rapidly expanding media and education in the remote areas of Pakistan. Indeed, the youth of Pakistan has a major contribution towards this change, which is being seen as a ray of hope for the future of Pakistan. Today Pakistan is facing a number of challenges; the worst economic crisis of the history, the socio-political divide, international isolation and above all, the massive unemployment. These issues are going to be a huge challenge for the new government and the masses to bear the hardships. There have been no institutional building and corruption has been rampant at the level of government institutions and the society.
As a way forward, the new Government at Islamabad must devise an immediate policy to bring the country out of the challenges, it faces contemporarily. After political stabilization through a visionary plan, Government needs to improve the economy. On this front, it has global challenges like; debt repayment without sufficient reserves, coming out from the grey list of Financial Action Task Force, FDI and export issues.
At home, Pakistani currency has been devalued with consistency, resuktantly lowering the purchasing power for a common man. This challenge warrants major economic reforms in connection with imports and industrial development. Besides, the Government will have to satisfy the masses on two accounts; provision of timely and fair justice and availability of basic facilities. With such a state of affairs, the third sequential political transformation is going to be bumpy and challenging, rather a smooth ride. Let’s hope for the best for new Government in Islamabad.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.