By-Elections Controversy

Author: Daily Times

A fresh cycle of controversies has marked the end of yet another chapter in the democratic trajectory in Pakistan that set forth yet another overwhelming clean sweep for the PML(N) on Sunday. Rigging allegations have returned with the PTI leaders crying foul over what they claim would be remembered as a black day.

With new protests announced and the election commission back on the receiving end of their anger, the situation appears far from settled. Why would it? For those still trying to register for the whirlwind of February 8 polls, the after-shocks have come as a nasty deja vu. Although PTI enjoys a reputation for over-sensationalising reports of ballot-stuffing, and dramatic confessions, the fact that the commission has also taken notice of the discrepancies adds to the chaos. Who can defend the audacity of armed men storming inside a polling station in Qila Abdullah and abducting the designated staff? Then again, a raging clash in Narowal, which led to the death of a political activist, speaks volumes about the (lack of) performance of the law enforcement agencies. Why is it that our civil intelligence needs the crutches of hot-button internet suspension to ensure the safety of civilians at the slightest indication of a public activity? No matter what the scope may be, the entire public life needs to be brought to a standstill so that they can keep an eye on any unwanted incident. On the other hand, all hands appear on deck when called to dish out a result of their choosing. The entire lock, stock and barrel is to be blamed here, for which the interior ministry, the police and the ECP would have to someday stand answerable. Our state machinery has yet again missed the chance to establish the sanctity of the polling exercise.

As is the norm, no sitting government, especially this early in the game, requires support material to win a race. For the last two months, ECP has done little beyond hollow lipservice and a bizarre (some may say shameful) disregard to defend its position as the watchdog of a fair, transparent and legitimate transfer of power. It may believe that all’s well. However, as courts get overburdened with cases related to electoral fraud and the national narrative remains fixated on political discords, the country cannot even begin to go back to business. Perhaps the winners might know this already but these shenanigans have caused a severe dent in the PML(N)’s credibility, which still has a long way to go in regaining the lost confidence of the masses. *

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