As described by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)and declared by the report of the International Elections Monitors Group — which oversaw the election process in Pakistan, the 2018 elections have been held in a fair and professional way.
Because of the elections, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerged as the largest winner and status quo politicians/stalwarts of other parties, such as Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) and Mutahhida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), were defeated.
But there was an uproar by major political parties that the elections were.In the process these political parties indirectly blamed the judiciary and the military as well. These doubts about the rigging also got public sympathy due to the delay in the compilation and the announcement of the results. The Election Commission stated that the results were delayed due the fault in the RTS system, but no political party accepted this logic.
Amid the upheaval of the defeated political parties, Imran Khan, took a positive step to announce that the doubts regarding the election results will be addressed by opening any number of the polling station records, as would be requested by the aggrieved candidates. The ECP has entertained many requests to recount votes, and the results have by and large been the same as were already announced on the first and second day of the elections. However, the concerned political parties are still not accepting the election results, it is encouraging to note that elected members of all major political parties have decided to take their oaths and play the role of a united opposition in the parliament.
In terms of recounting the votes, many candidates have already been entertained by the Election Commission and the results have by and large been the same as were already announced on the first and second day of the elections
In view of the efforts of the ECP to entertain these requests, it is more appropriate for the concerned political parties that they should reconcile with the election results and play their constructive role as part of the parliament and the provincial assemblies. Now, it is particularly important that conducive conditions are created by all concerned for the formation and installation of the new government so that it could quickly takeover and start handling important affairs of the country. The country’s frail economic situation, its foreign policy and public services for the welfare of the people need immediate attention.
Moreover, some members of the political parties who are criticising and blaming, directly or indirectly, without evidence, the ECP, NAB, the judiciary and the military on various accounts should stop it. While doing so they do not realise that criticising and weakening these institutions, especially the military, will weaken the country and this would indirectly serve the interests of the enemies of Pakistan.
It should also be appreciated that the military has proved over the past ten years that it is a strong proponent of the supremacy of democratic system in the country. This is not the first time that troops have been deployed to oversee the election process. It is part of an ongoing process in the electoral system in Pakistan.During the current general elections, the military had pledged to play its due role in conducting transparent, free and fair elections in the country. The military is a neutral institution entrusted by all political parties as well as by the masses to ensure free and secure polling. PML-N, PPP, PTI and all the rest of the political parties had welcomed the military’s deployment.
Moreover, it is important that the major political parties like the PML-N, PPP and MMA realise that there is a strong and visible change in the behaviour of Pakistani people, who have started questioning time-tested political leaders for their weak and meagre delivery over the past so many years. This factor seems to be the major reason that has led to PTI’s victory; its manifesto included ending corruption and following an economic development strategy that focused on issues that directly affected the people, including necessities, like education, health and clean drinking water, etc.
In the above context, it seems that this time the people of Pakistan have rejected status quo leaders and preferred to see how the new leader and his elected parliamentarians would perform and look after their welfare. In other words, this attitude of the voters is a message to the already tested politicians to change their future politics in a major way since the Pakistani voter is now much wiser and wants Pakistani leaders to perform much better than in the past.
The writer is an ex-Army Colonel and a former Senior Research Fellow, Strategic Vision Institute and Research Fellow, Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), Islamabad
Published in Daily Times, August 10th 2018.