Analysis & opinion Pakistan

Elections in Pakistan and Allegation of Rigging

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Pakistani political environment is chaotic and anarchic where election results are not acceptable to the losing parties. In every elections, political parties tried to manipulate the peaceful and fair conduct of general elections. Political leaders accused armed forces of stealing the mandate of people. This accusation is far away from the reality and purely based upon the personal thinking of an individual or political party. Pakistani armed forces are one of the few disciplined institutes in the country and working under the ambits of constitution to protect the territorial integrity and democratic setup in the country.

Pakistan’s election process is not very critical and just like many other states in the world where general elections held after every five years. Pakistani Election Commission is completely autonomous and independent to take any legitimate decision in the interests of the country. Both ruling and opposition parties selected the Chief Election Commission (CEC) with mutual consultations for five years. Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is committed to enhance the capacity of the people. ECP is working tirelessly to upgrade its set up and working environment by opting latest optics and system. The mandate of CEC is defined in constitution of Pakistan and he is bound to follow his/ her mandate. Unfortunately, when if a major political party failed to secure majority in National Assembly, political chaos and fuss erupted in the country where politicians started to challenge the result of elections. Even some politicians hold armed forces responsible for stealing the mandate of people by using state machinery in the favor of a particular person or political party.

On 25 July 2018, elections were held across the country for national and provincial assemblies on same day. Polling environment of the entire process was peaceful amid fear of terrorist attacks in various parts of the country. No major complains were received by ECP on the Election Day. A few incident of violence and rigging were received by ECP from Sindh and in some parts of Punjab, which were lately addressed by ECP. After the completion of polling and national and provincial assemblies, the ECP started to share the results on its website and mobile application ‘Result Transmission System (RTS)’. The RTS was introduced for the first time in the history of Pakistan. The primary objective to introduce RTS was to stop rigging and made the process of counting more fair and transparent. Unfortunately, due to the overload of the work, the RTS got un-functional due to some technical faults, due to which in some constituencies, election results got delayed, which paved the way for political chaos and myths about the results of the elections. Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) accused government of trying to steal the mandate of the people and favouring Imran Khan led Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI).

Two major political parties of Pakistan, PML-N led by former PM Nawaz Sharif and PPP led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari refused to accept elections result and announced to stage protests in different parts of the country. In a hidden way, both PPP and PML-N along with other likeminded religious political parties accused establishment (Army) of favouring Imran Khan led PTI. Interestingly, the leading international election observing organizations asserted that first time in the history of Pakistan, the election process was transparent and as per the international standards. One of the organization Commonwealth Observer Group said that entire election process was much batter unlike in the past. It termed the polling environment across the country as per laws. Though, the organization also accepted some technical faults, but it commended overall atmosphere during the election process. Ex-Indian Election Commissioner Shahab-ud-Din was visited Islamabad and Rawalpindi during the elections days and argued that, “election process in Pakistan was transparent. He dismissed the allegations of rigging and termed entire process of election free and fair”. He noted that candidates were freely allowed for campaigns.

One other organization Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) also commended the overall conduct of the elections across the country. It also ruled out any possibility of systematic rigging in elections, which was projected by a few political parties. The reports by EU’s election observer groups also denounced allegations of rigging in the election process and polling environment. Another Pakistani observer group PILDAT endorsed the findings of other groups and appreciated the overall conduct of elections. It commended the impartiality of the election staff during the whole process. By keeping all observations in minds related to the conduct of election process, it is very unfortunate that some political parties are putting their personal interests first as compare to the national interests. The agenda of these political parties seems despicable and contrary to the state’s one.

There are some political workers and politicians as well who are working on the agenda of anti-Pakistan actors to create unrest and chaos in the country on the name of stealing of people’s mandate. They are getting support from outside the country as well with the purpose to malign Pakistan armed forces and intelligences agencies. These people are also wants to create anarchy in the country by instigating own people against own institutes and government. By keeping current political and security environment in mind, there is need of political unity against our enemies. It is moral duty of our politicians in current scenario to support incumbent government to devise a joint strategy due to prevailing security situation in the country.

Pakistani armed forces and security agencies are only protecting our own national and territorial interests and giving befitting reply to our enemies.

In this situation, it’s not a viable option to criticize them to accomplish personal interests. After the 18th amendment in Pakistani constitution, all institute are independent including Election Commission of Pakistan. So, let them do their work under the ambit of constitution, which they are doing. Creating propaganda against them will not serve own interests? Those who are working against our own institutions must be held accountable so that no one will dare to speak against our respected institutions for personal gains. All political parties in the country must support government led efforts to introduce professionalism in all institutes, which is beneficial for own country. It also a duty of political parties to give five years constitutional term to PTI government, which it got with the mandate of people. Any unconstitutional move against the government will derail the democratic process in Pakistan, which is not favourable under current political scenario at all.

Written by: Shaikh Moazam Khan

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