All the bickering that went on after the Senate chairman’s election can be summed up in one slogan of former President Asif Ali Zardari, “Democracy is the best revenge”. Barring all the assertions and accusations made by the PML-N and other political leaders like Hasil Bizenjo and Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai, the game played in the Senate was nothing but simply an attempt to turn that slogan into reality by following this spirit in its true form.For the losers, this unprecedented result was a game of some hidden hands while the supporters hailed it as the dawn of electoral freedom that provided an opportunity to an independent Baloch Senator to head the Upper House of the parliament — a step of the political parties to bring the neglected province into the mainstream. Despite all the justifications offered by the supporters, the controversy continues to gather more condemnation and criticism. By conceding to supporting an independent candidate, the political parties have, in fact, put their stamps of approval to a non-political party electoral system that has always been a very favourite method for all the military regimes that have ruled this country so far. No doubt, the whole exercise of this Senate election was so perfectly performed that the losers in the game couldn’t even fathom the miraculous wonder that had just struck them out of the blue.It is not the first time that a such an upset was witnessed by a majority party at the hands of a minority. Two previous incidents can be traced from the Pakistan-related history where the parliamentary majority was toppled down by the minority leaving behind trails of tragedies and sufferings that still haunt the people and the polity of the country. In 1946, the All India Muslim League (AIML) emerged as a victorious party in the Punjab province bagging 73 seats in the assembly. This victory turned into a defeat when the Unionist Party with less than ten seats, had managed to muster support from the Panthak Sikh Akali League (23 seats) and Punjab Congress (51 seats) to form the government in the province.By supporting an independent candidate, the political parties have, in fact, approved a non-political party electoral system that has always been a very favourite method of all the military regimes that have ruled the country so farAt its height of popularity and electoral victory, it was a significant jolt for AIML that further deepened the rivalry already existed among the political parties of undivided Punjab. At a time when the future course of history for the people of united India was going to be decided as a result of these elections, it was a matter of existence and survival for all political parties that was functioning in India including Punjab. The Congress-Unionists-Akali alliance had a political agenda to protect the religious diversity of the province under ethnic and regional lines while AIML had a basic task to prove its claim of religious identity as the basis for a separate homeland it wanted to create for the Muslim community where all ethnic groups following the same religion can live together without any fear of domination from the followers of other religion. The day Khizer Hayat Khan Tiwana of the Unionist Party was invited to form the government, the Punjab Muslims observed “Traitors Day” and what followed after the formation of this government was nothing but a continuation of chaos, protests, and disturbances in the province resulting in the resignation of Tiwana after staying in power for about a year. What was experienced in Punjab was later repeated in East Pakistan when the results of 1971 election declared Awami League (AL) as the leading party of the country with the highest number of seats in the assembly followed by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as the second largest party. Soon after the election results, a controversy emerged between AL and PPP on the Six Points Agenda of AL.Instead of inviting the leading party to form the government and let the politicians resolve their disputes in the assembly, the ruling military regime favoured the suggestion of the PPP to address the issues before calling the session of the National Assembly. In the eyes of AL, it was a tactical approach of the military rulers at the behest of PPP to create a situation that can somehow deprive AL to form a government in Pakistan. The religious identity lost its importance and the new identities that replaced it were based on ethnic and regional lines that sought a solution that could once for all decide as to which part of the country would have the ruling authority. Writing on the experiences of the political events that had shaped the basis for the creation of Bangladesh, Komal Hossain, one of the leaders of AL, has quoted some behaviours of the then army generals and PPP’s leadership in his book “Bangladesh — Quest for freedom and justice”. He writes, “Their (the military generals) attitude at the time was summed up significantly by a general who after a sumptuous dinner at Government House in Dhaka, is reported by another Pakistani army officer to have declared, “Don’t worry … we will not allow these black bastards to rule over us.”Likewise, the attitude of PPP leadership, in his opinion, was also reflective of an indifference that they had with the main dispute they were using as the reason for delaying the assembly session. He writes that in a meeting that was called to know the objections PPP had on the Six Points, Mr JA Rahim, team leader of PPP, paid no attention to the specific issues but rather indulged into abstract discussions about the meaning of ‘socialism’ and referred to the strong center in the Soviet Union and other socialist countries as being essential for central planning. What happened later is a known history that needs no further deliberation.Komal Hossain’s observations can be taken as a biased opinion of a person who was at the forefront of a conflict where sides were taken, and views were formed on the basis of subjectivity rather than objectivity.Yet a few points stand out to be very relevant even today; the inability of the politicians to learn from their experiences and their readiness to take actions that offer them short time gains but seriously harm the very institution they represent.Once the complete damage is done, and the politicians are sent home, a realisation suddenly dawns on them that it was the establishment and not they responsible for the failure and downfall of democracy. The slogan, “democracy is the best revenge” is mostly used against the political rivals rather than against those who destroy the institution. As long as the politicians continue practising this policy, the beneficiaries will be others and not the politicians or their institution.The writer is Senior Research Fellow, Center for Research and Security StudiesPublished in Daily Times, March 23rd 2018.