Tag Archives: Fair and Free Elections

Election Rigging in Pakistan in 1977 and 2013


2013-Nawaz-Sharif-5Imran Khan is organizing a “long march” this month, culminating in a visit to – or, perhaps, an occupation of – the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. Ostensibly, he is protesting against the rigging of last year’s elections, even though most analysts agree that any fraud that did take place would not have materially affected the outcome. It seems more the case that Mr Khan is desperate to re-establish himself as a serious contender in Pakistani politics.

The self-styled cleric, televangelist and orator, Tahir Ul Qadri, has decided to join hands with Mr Khan in Islamabad on August 14 – and Mr Qadri is promising a revolution. There is little doubt that between the two of them they could destabilize the weakened Nawaz Sharif-led government.

Meanwhile, the government has invoked Article 245 of the constitution and called in the army “in aid of civil power” for a period of three months that started on Sunday. The government says this is a response to the possibility of retaliation from Tehrik-I-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which is targeting its militants in North Waziristan, but the fact that Mr Khan’s movement has unnerved Mr Sharif is commonly accepted. A constitutional appeal has been filed in the High Court challenging the government’s decision to invoke Article 245.

Calling on the army as a preemptive measure is not merely an admission by the Sharif government of its inability to respond to the Khan-Qadri challenge, it is also ceding further political space to the army in Islamabad. Under Article 245, the army is constitutionally protected from judicial reprisals.

I am struck by the similarities between the current situation and that in the 1970s.

In 1976, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto – a Machiavellian but genuinely popular political leader – decided to rig the elections and won. The opposition took to the streets to protest – even though, like now, it was generally accepted that the fraud had had no effect on the outcome.

The weak protest was met with violence. As a result, it grew in numbers and soon turned into a popular movement. It culminated in Lahore and, when further opposed, turned increasingly violent. Bhutto invoked Article 245 and called in the army.

The difference this time is that the army has been requisitioned as a preemptive move – and that is one of the reasons why the move has been challenged in court.

Back in the 1970s, a few ambitious young army officers ordered their men to fire on the demonstrators in Lahore. But three brigadiers, voicing the view of most officers and the rank and file, refused to fire and resigned their commissions. They enjoyed the support of a large number of senior officers.

The rest, as they say, is history. Bhutto paid for his error of judgment with his life. Though this was not his last mistake, it was the one that led him to the hangman’s noose.

More recently, in 2009, Mr Sharif was the central figure in a similar “long march” to restore Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as Pakistan’s chief justice. That the restoration was a disaster is irrelevant to this discussion. But Mr Sharif could draw a parallel.

That history repeats itself is unfortunate. That so few leaders choose to analyze history to learn from it is the real tragedy.Such movements thrive only if they are opposed. In a recent media interview, Mr Khan has expressed the desire to “face the first bullet”. This is exactly what he and Mr Qadri want: a violent response.

If Mr Sharif had the courage to call his bluff, Mr Khan’s challenge might soon turn to bluster.

Public Protest of PTI against Election Rigging Reaches Sialkot


10360396_752629251446164_2188731450328949406_nWith every successive jalsa of PTI the zeal, enthusiasm and vigor of the people is increasing. Those who thought that people will forget about election rigging as a thing of the past, should open their eyes and see reality on ground. There is s general awareness among the masses that without fair & free elections a true democracy is not possible, and without true democracy a nation cannot progress. People are no more satisfied with the spate of so-called development works of the Noon govt like metro buses and metro trains. People want their life, property and honor to be protected. They are an eye witness to the gruesome condition of lawlessness in Punjab and how Punjab police is playing havoc with the lives of poor people. People are feeling that unless the curse of two-family political system is replaced with true democracy, their plight will see no positive change.

10418252_752629218112834_5977185936771168993_nPeople are getting astonished to know the blatant and sophisticated methods being applied by the authorities to hijack their mandate. With every constituency that is being opened / scrutinized the mind boggling methods of rigging are surfacing, thereby casting deep doubts on the legitimacy of the sitting rulers. But unfortunately the govt is turning a blind eye towards these facts, on the hope that public protest of PTI will fizzle out soon. Sadly for them the realities on ground are quite contrary to their expectations.

Akhtar Malik

Protest Rallies of Imran Khan and Dr Tahir ul Qadri on 11 May 2014

By Akhtar Malik : 10 May 2014


imagesA 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.

PAT-Rally-against-Corrupt-electoral-system_2013-04-21_04Over 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.

Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry the Outgoing CJP as Seen by Pakistanis

By Akhtar Malik : 11 December 2013

Pakistani suspended top judge Justice IfToday is the last day of CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in his office. The CJ has many good actions to his credit. The person really changed the profile of judiciary and made it an institution that could make its weight felt. Judicial activism remained the hallmark of his stint in office. He took many suo motto notices and kept the sitting governments on their toes. His efforts to safeguard the human rights as done in the case of missing persons are commendable. His period will always be remembered as historical milestone in the freedom and independence of judiciary. Before IMC the judiciary was never the same as we see it now.

However the CJ made himself as controversial as well. He was never seen as a totally impartial judge as his tilt towards MNS remained visible till end. He failed to revamp the lower judiciary and could not compel the governments to enforce reforms for quick and better dispensation of justice- a dream of poor people of this country. He was seen as a soft judge for the terrorists as not a single one was punished during his tenure. He could not rise to the stature of a true Islamic judge when the question of corrupt practices of his son Arsalan came up.

The biggest damage that was done to Pakistan was his apathy towards notorious elections 2013. On this issue he even went against his own axioms. He let the unconstitutional ECP function to the detriment of Pakistan. I changed my opinion about IM when he misbehaved with and ridiculed DR. Tahir ul Qadri who went to SC to seek constitutional relief in the case of ECP. During his tenure the biggest rigging in elections was done and he kept quiet. He didn’t take suo motto notice on the rigging rather didn’t even listened to hundreds of petitions filed with SC. As a result of rigged a political dispensation of the worst order was imposed on Pakistan which is quickly taking the country to the brink of economic disaster.

It is yet premature to say whether the future judiciary will be a different one but I earnestly wish that the future judiciary should not only maintain its hard earned independence but should also complete the unfinished agenda of IM for providing quick justice on the doorsteps. But a lot will depend on how the sitting government would take the judiciary. An independent and impartial judiciary is vital for democracy, hence no efforts should be made by the government to clip the powers of judiciary. A weak judiciary will be a sign of danger for the survival of democracy also. This point is normally not understood and liked by the ruling elite.