Zain Ullah Khattak |
By Election in Pakistan were held on 14, October 2018 on 11 National Assembly and 26 Provincial assembly constituencies under the banner of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The By-Election was held on those seats where either the candidate died during the election campaign process or was vacated due to resignations of elected MNA’s and MPA’s, who have secured more than one seats in General Election (GE) held on 25 July 2018.
The By-election was free, fair, transparent, and neutral. A free and fair election is necessary for healthy democracy and transparency is a key principle for credible elections. A transparent election process is one in which each step is open to scrutiny by stakeholders (political parties, election observers, and voters alike) who are able to independently verify the process which was conducted according to procedures and no irregularities had occurred. Providing transparency in an election helps establish trust and public confidence in the process, as voters have the means to verify the results, which are an accurate reflection of the will of the people.
The PTI should separate party from government affairs for supremacy of law and merit system and it will be helpful to promote a democratic culture within the party.
It was a practice in the past that only ruling party will win by-election, whereas PTI Government due to its policy of holding free, fair, and transparent election failed to secure all seats. PTI government has shifted the paradigm and all parties are satisfied with the by-election result. Since the creation of Pakistan in 1947,it has been unsuccessful in establishing a political parties system in the country.
The Independent Act of 1947 gave powers to constituent assemblies in order to develop a political and democratic culture in newborn Pakistan. But unfortunately, due to Khanism, Nawabism, and feudal culture, it failed to evolve the Political and democratic culture in Pakistan. So in consequence, Political parties remained very weak which resulted in democratic culture was not being fully developed. It gave opportunities to Military Generals to run the affairs of state, thus, a major portion of the time Pakistan remained under Military dictatorship.
Read more: Performance of PTI regime in its infancy – Part II –…
In such time, the PTI started as a movement for justice and to create awareness about state responsibilities in health, education, civic, welfare, and freedom of expression, employment, religious coherence, interfaith harmony, and equal taxation system in Pakistan. It concentrated on social and Political development in Pakistan. PTI is committed to Political stability in Pakistan through credible democracy, transparency in government, and accountability of leadership.
As far as the By-election results are concerned, “Win and lose” is part of the election process. The PTI vote bank has increased since 25 July 2018 after the general elections in Punjab. In By-election on 14 October, PTI was on top with securing 15 seats out of 37 seats and its performance was 43 % while PML (N) with joint opposition parties secured 11 seats which constituted 31 %. But in some areas due to the absence of an effective Political and organizational structure of PTI and problems in ticket distribution the PTI vote was divided and the opposition got an opportunity.
Providing transparency in an election helps establish trust and public confidence in the process, as voters have the means to verify the results, which are an accurate reflection of the will of the people.
This was the case in NA 35 Bannu and NA 56 Attock. On 25 July General Election 2018, PTI Charmin Imran Khan was elected MNA from NA 35 Bannu with 113843 votes and Ikram Khan Duranni of MMA was runner up with 106820 votes. But in By-election due to a dispute over ticket distribution the MMA candidate won by securing 58068 votes and PTI Candidate Molvi Syed Naseem Ali Shah was a runner up with 37489 votes.
PTI ticket aspirant Malik Nasir Khan contested election as an independent candidate and secured 21719 votes, Thus PTI’s total in NA 35 was 59208 which is (1140) votes more than winner candidate, but due to weak organizational setup of the party and egocentricity, PTI lost a confirmed seat in BANNU. Similarly in other Constituencies, especially NA 56 Attock the case was no different .It is still not a failure of the party rather it is the result of noninterference in the election process as well as the affairs of the ECP (Election commission of Pakistan).
Read more: Sunday by-poll: Analysis and lessons for PTI
A decrease in the turnout was observed in the By-election. A thought-provoking point was noted that the turnout was disappointing in National assembly Constituencies as compared to the Provincial assembly Constituencies. In the National Assembly Constituencies lowest turnout was observed in NA 243 Karachi, where it was only 15.71 % while highest was observed in NA 103 Faisalabad, which was 48.00 %. In the provincial assemblies Constituencies, the turnout was lowest in KP assembly with PK 97 DI Khan saw 17.4% turnout and highest was observed in Punjab assembly PP 165 Lahore with 54.89%.
For the first time in the history of the Country, the PTI led Federal Government of Pakistan under the leadership of PM Imran Khan enabled the overseas Pakistanis to exercise their fundamental right to vote through I-voting system. In 1993, Oversees Pakistanis were given “right to Vote” but due to lack of interest the matter was delayed on one or other pretext for 25 years.
PTI was on top with securing 15 seats out of 37 seats and its performance was 43 % while PML (N) with joint opposition parties secured 11 seats which constituted 31 %.
I-voting is a system of casting votes through the internet from any part of the world. It allowed voters to cast their fundamental and basic right to vote. According to ECP out of 70364 registered votes, 6233 overseas Pakistani voters had cast their votes in by-election polling on 14 October, 2018. The Election Commission of Pakistan spent Rs 95 million on I-Voting system. The right of vote for overseas Pakistan was a long-standing demand of PTI. The current practice of right of vote to overseas Pakistan is a result of PTI petition filled by Imran Khan and Dr. Arif Alvi, now PM and President respectively.
Read more: Is PTI’s future as a political entity hanging in a balance?
PTI chairman Imran Khan and PTI leadership must think over PTI organizational structure and convert party into the institution. Free and fair intraparty election is the need of the hour to make a strong organizational structure. To make it more effective, intraparty elections need to be held on popular vote from UC level to Center level. It is hoped that Intra party elections will bring a new energetic and ideological leadership in the ranks of the PTI files. The PTI should separate party from government affairs for supremacy of law and merit system and it will be helpful to promote a democratic culture within the party.
It is a time that PTI should develop as a political institution to train their workers for future challenges and governance system. Only PTI can play a role in the transition from culture and tribal norms based political system to a system rooted in democratic norms and values. In the coming day’s Pakistani democracy will be more responsive, accountable, and fair to the people because of the struggle of PTI youth and Imran Khan.
Zain Ullah Khattak is Research Scholar in Areas Study Centre (China, Russia, Afghanistan, and Central Asia) at the University of Peshawar, Peshawar. He is Visiting Fellow at International Islamic University, Islamabad. He has extensively published his articles on socio-political thoughts and issues, education reforms, Sufis thoughts, and Philosophical issues. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.