Dr Muhammad Khan
Following the landmark victory of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), all political and religio-political parties (less PPP), who could not reached to victory stand gathered in the form of All Parties Conference (APC) on a very short notice. They unanimously rejected the election results of Election-2018 with serious allegations on Interim Government, Election Commission of Pakistan and the national institutions. They said that, the elections were rigged and manipulated. While Shahbaz Sharif, the President of PML (N) was diplomatic in his speech, the JUI-F Chief Moulana Fazlur Rehman directly pointed fingers on Military institutions and threatened that; elected members (of PTI) would not be allowed to enter Parliament nor would they take oath.
Except PML (N), all those attended the APC lost elections in their own constituencies with a very heavy margin. The religious parties’ alliance in the form of Mutahida Majlis Amal (MMA) could secure only 12 seats of National Assembly with their top leadership losing elections. JUI-F Chief Moulana Fazlur Rehman even used derogatory language against the PTI and institutions. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), had a separate meeting and gave a different view point. Its Chairman though rejected the results, however, decided to be part of Parliament and while being in Parliament, PPP will give a tough time to ruling party.
It is still unclear as what would be the final decisions of these political and religious parties but, they are adamant not to accept any new entry into the politics of Pakistan. They never thought of losing elections with such a margin at the hands of PTI, comparatively a new party and that too, a party belongs to common man, not a particular family party like; PPP, PML (N), PkMAP, ANP or even JUI (F). Rigging or manipulation of public mandate is not a good omen, but the question arises, would the PTI, Election Commission or even Army do that or else, can they do so in the presence of media and representatives of all parties. It is malicious and indeed, lack of acceptability for others, a clear narrow mindedness on the part of political parties, who cannot stay away from the government. How would they spend five years, away from rule(s)?
The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Pakistan has expressed satisfaction over overall conduct of the general elections in Pakistan. As per EU EOM, “Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) were impressive and appreciable.” Chief Observer of the Mission Michael Gahler, addressed a news conference, giving the details that, EU EOM visited as many as “582 polling stations in 113 constituencies and he had also personally visited many polling stations.” He said that, “We observed there was an improvement as compared to the previous election held in 2013.” The Mission however has some observations like; all political parties were not given ‘level-playing field’ or equality of opportunity before the polls, to run the election campaign.
The independent EU mission was not influenced by either the Election Commission or the Army, they were free to give their observations. The EU mission appreciated the inclusion of larger groups and genders (particularly female and transgender s) in the lection process. The Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) , representing over 50 domestic civil society organisations also appreciated the polling process and said that, ‘polling day was better managed and relatively peaceful until concerns emerged over the counting process and slow announcement of provisional results.’ From the point of view of law and order, it was the best organised elections, ever in the history of Pakistan.
The political analysts opine that, over the years, the military establishment has supported the continuation of democratic process in Pakistan. A fake impression is being created of manipulation of election process is part of international agenda to malign Pakistan military in order to tarnish the image of this national institution, primary responsible for the security of Pakistan. Unfortunately, some political elements have towed the line of international agenda to further their vested interests. This is not the first time that troops have been deployed to provide security and ensure smooth conduct of election process. This responsibility is being discharged as per constitution of Pakistan.
As earlier, during elections-2018, Pakistani armed forces have played a great role towards conducting transparent, free and fair elections in the country. Making this institution and election commission as disputed by the political parties is really disturbing. In many constituencies there have been recounting on the demand of various political parties or candidates to their satisfaction. Despite these efforts, criticism on election process and targeting institution is regrettable.
The hereditary political parties and the politicians must realise that, today, the people of Pakistan are much more aware then the previous years. They exactly know who has done any developmental work in their respective constituencies. Gone are the days, people used to be fooled by these hereditary politicians. Pakistan is the gift of Allah almighty, therefore, let’s respects this country and its masses. If the people have rejected a particular ruling and exploitative class by voting for new faces, let’s respect their will and mandate. Haji Ghlum Bilour is an example, who accepted his defeat after seeing the initial results and congratulated his opponent. Others need to follow the suit, rather criticising the institutions.
Indeed, the losers of Elections-2018 should go for soul searching and find out weaknesses in their governance system. Let’s not defame and destabilise Pakistan, respect the national institutions which guarantee the security and sovereignty of Pakistan and its masses. At regional and global level, the rival forces are all out to exploit our vulnerabilities to make Pakistan like Libya, Syria and Iraq.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.