By Akhtar Malik : 10 May 2014
11 MAY 2014 – A DAY THAT CAN CHANGE THE POLITICS
A nationwide protest movement against electoral rigging is in the offing. Imran Khan has announced that the protest will not be stopped till its logical outcome- the electoral reforms to ensure fair and free elections- is achieved. Parallel to PTI, another movement is also being launched by Dr. Tahir ul Qadri of PAT, with the aim of revamping the whole corrupt system that has played havoc with the lives and properties of the citizens. Both the leaders have pledged not to support martial law but to install a real democracy that will reflect the aspirations of poor masses and down trodden strata of society. A number of other political parties and religious will also join the protest.
IK has knocked on all the doors to get justice in his cases against election rigging but couldn’t, even after a lapse of one year. The govt of PML-N seems to be ignorant of what all can happen on 11 May and onwards. They had neither taken any action to avert this eventuality nor are they expected to take any now. Only statements like ‘ foreign agenda’, hidden hand’, ‘derailing of democracy’ etc may not help to resolve the issue. Something concrete should have been done to satisfy the aggrieved party.
Over the past one year the situation has been made more complex. As per constitution the election tribunals are bound to decide the cases of alleged rigging within 4 months. As and where an election tribunal gave orders for recounting, the member from Noon went to courts and obtained stay orders. Ayaz Sadiq Speaker NA is dragging his case for 8 months. If PTI went to courts, they ruled that it is the domain of election commission and not the courts. But at the same times courts have been issuing stay orders in the same cases. The point to ponder is- if a system comprising ECP, election tribunals and the Judiciary at various level is unable to dispense justice even within one years, and the sitting govt also feels ‘unable’ to do anything in this situation, then what is the use of this inept and rotten system which needs revamping immediately?
It is not understood as to why the Noon govt has taken this burden of election rigging on themselves? Noon was not the one who had conducted elections. It was the caretaker govt and judiciary who performed this task. Had Noon govt conducted an impartial inquiry in to rigging, there could have been two scenarios:
(1) If Noon thought that allegations leveled by PTI were baseless and Noon got a genuine mandate of the people then Noon should have voluntarily offered a broad based inquiry and ensuing results would have silenced PTI once and for all.
(2) If during inquiry some irregularities came up, the govt could have taken appropriate action against persons responsible and would have made necessary changes in the electoral processes. Obviously Noon was not to be held responsible for malpractices in polls.
(3) A re-polling could have been ordered in disputed constituencies. As Noon had secured an overwhelming number of seats, even if they lost 50% to PTI that wouldn’t have made any difference. Noon would still be in leading position to form govt.
(4) Based on the facts obtained from inquiry and after punishing the culprits responsible for rigging, a comprehensive plan could have been made so that future elections were in fair manner.
(5) In the worst scenario if the Supreme Court had rendered the whole elections null & void and ordered re-elections, it would have been a feasible option. Re-elections are the solution for many problems. It would have averted the chances of anarchy and martial law.
But unfortunately the govt didn’t adopt this strategy and let the situation reach the present point. Now if Noon thinks that protest launched by PTI, PAT etc will pose no problem for them, then in my view the govt is playing a risky gamble. There can be two outcomes of this protest:
(1) If the protest is not supported by people ie the people do not come on street in reasonably large numbers and the protest becomes unsustainable then the movement will fizzle out. In that case Noon govt can relax and pass the remaining time in peace. This situation can also arise if the govt is successful in luring in the protesting parties to a compromise. The movement will then come to an end, waiting for the govt promises to be fulfilled, which will never be.
(2) If people come out in large numbers and the movement gains momentum with every passing day, the chances are that it may swell beyond proportions. In that case the govt will make hasty and erratic decisions and will eventually scum to public pressure.
In the case of movement becoming successful the govt will come under tremendous pressure. Army is likely to remain neutral and will not become party with Noon against will of the people. In that case the movement may result into an interim govt taking over the power.
Every problem has its solution, but with the passage of time as the problem becomes complex and serious the solutions tend to become more difficult and costly. We have examples as to how the strong rulers were disposed off in 1968, 1977, 1999 and 2008 as a result of public uprisings.
How PML-N govt will tackle this issue will be a test of its political acumen.