Categorized | South Asian Politics


Posted on 29 July 2015 by admin


Dr. Hasan Askari

   The Judicial Commission submitted its report to the federal government on July 22, 2015. It rejected the complaints of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) and several other opposition political parties that the May 2013 general elections were rigged and manipulated.

  By declaring these elections as a true and fair reflection of the mandate of the electorate, the Judicial Commission provided legal legitimacy to the 2013 election and the electoral victory of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz Group (PMLN).

 The PTI faced a major political embarrassment.

  However, the Judicial Commission has not resolved the issue of political acceptability of the results of the elections.

  It was not merely the PTI that complained about the election results, several other political parties, including those that supported the PMLN in the context of the protest by the PTI, also questioned the legitimacy of the election results.

  The legal legitimacy given by the Judicial Commission will not change the opinion of all these political parties about the elections. Therefore, the general elections and the PMLN’s ascendancy to power will continue to be questioned on political grounds many political activists.

   The Report of the Judicial Commissions represents a conservative and status-quo oriented approach. It took advantage of the terms of reference to down play irregularities and procedural violations, including non –authentication of votes and multiple voting by one person and declare these elections as fair and free on aggregate.

 The second term of reference sought to know if the elections were manipulated in a “systematic effort by design.” The Judicial Commission assigned a priority to systematic or by design manipulation over other issues undermining the credibility of the elections.

 It was clear during the proceedings of the Judicial Commission that systematic and planned rigging would not be proved. As the PTI could not prove systematic manipulation by an institution, government or political party, the Judicial Commission was able to confirm the first and the last terms of reference that legitimized the elections in legal terms.

 The Judicial Commission noted procedural and other violations but these could not influence the opinion of the members of the Judicial Commission because they confined them to the issue of systematic and planned manipulation.

  In a way the Election Commission and Judicial and other officials on the polling day duties have also got a clean chit because procedural irregularities were not given weight.

   The advice by the Commission to improve the management of the elections has not got much significance because if the elections represented the true and fair mandate of the people despite a host of deficiencies, why rectify those deficiencies. Why should the government of the Election Commission worry about these issues when these are not relevant to determine the credibility of the electoral process?

  The PMLN will focus on the legal aspects and the PTI and other political parties would pursue its political dimensions which will revive political conflict between the two sides. It will be three or four months before this conflict takes a definite shape. By that time the flood season as well as local bodies elections would be over in the Punjab.

  The PTI will have to review its political agenda and strategy. There is no scope for return to the theme of electoral manipulation. It will have to identify the issue that appeals to the common folks. The PTI support appears to be mainly from the middle to upper classes. It will have to mobilize the populace from the middle to the lower strata of the society. New sets of issues are required to attract this section of population.

  The PTI needs to pay attention to its organizational and internal discipline problems and Imran khan should avoid returning to the old traps like public expression of sympathy for Pakistani Taliban.

  Instead of making generalized statements, Imran Khan should adopt a non-ambiguous position on social and economic inequities in the society, privatization of state assets and religious extremism and militancy.  It would not be advisable to revive the “Dhrana” strategy of 2014. New strategies like public meetings and mass level mobilization need to be considered.

  Another issue pertains to the PTI working with other political parties. Its strategy of “solo flight” requires a review.

  The PPP’s declining fortune may not be revived as long as its leadership protects its interest by identifying with Nawaz Sharif. It faces organizational and leadership crises in the Punjab that have turned it into a feeble and directionless political entity. Its activists are depressed and dismayed in the Punjab.

  The ruling PMLN needs to change its policy of distributing state funds as the gifts from the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister of the Punjab. Instead, it should invest financial and administrative resources to coping with the energy shortages and the declining industrial output.

 Unless these two issues are addressed on a priority basis the problem of poverty and under-development cannot be tackled in Pakistan.

  The PMLN policy of conceding policy making and implementation to the military may work as long the military-Rangers action is confined to Karachi where the PMLN has hardly any direct political sake. If the military decides to adopt a similar approach to control militancy and corruption and administrative inefficiency the Punjab, the PMLN will find it difficult to pursue stable relations with the military.

  The PMLN should understand that its current triumph will prove short-lived if it continues to pursue its on-going narrow and personalized governance.

 It needs to appoint professionals on the top level technical positions and adopt socio-economic policies that benefit the common persons on a permanent basis rather than pursuing glamorous construction projects that have scope for corruption.

 The current floods will increase popular dissatisfaction against the PMLN government which will make it easy for the opposition parties to initiate another confrontation with the government.

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