Merwah Qureshi |
The post-election atmosphere in Pakistan tells the tale of an anti-institutional propaganda setting. Most of the defeated politicians, after losing their tokens to the throne of power, are involved in criticizing the electoral role played by prestigious institutions of the state in GE 2018. Military, Judiciary and ECP – none of these institutions have been barred from being bad-mouthed.
The hues and cries of pre-poll engineering, post-poll manipulation, and absence of a level playing field, have been raised by seasoned politicians with their big egos, unable to embrace their defeat. As far as the rigging is concerned, the reports of international watchdogs testify the fact that GE 2018 was way better than GE 2013.
The hues and cries of pre-poll engineering, post-poll manipulation and absence of a level playing field have been raised by seasoned politicians with their big egos, unable to embrace their defeat.
The political players should accept, that this time the masses with the help of their votes have challenged the status-quo for they have tried, tested and bore the brunt of the dynastic political culture of Pakistan. Ironically, rather than analyzing the grave mistakes and the acts of malpractices committed by them in their constituencies, the cronies of Pakistan’s power politics have over-looked the fact that this time they have been rooted out of the system via the public mandate. They are facing a hard time accepting the reality: their short-sighted and superficially glittered policies no longer gain the public’s appreciation. Therefore, instead of indulging in a blame game, the present calls for the adoption of a prudent approach.
Instead of applauding the laudable service by the boys, media houses and pseudo-liberals on the pay-roll of external forces have been involved in fueling suspicion and skepticism against Pakistan’s military.
In Pakistan’s political culture, throwing mud at the military is not a new practice. Some of the corrupt players, while trying to conceal their administrative inability and political weakness, always seek refuge in maligning this very institution responsible for the national safety and security. Hence, once again the military has been lambasted for its security and safety oriented role in GE 2018. However, the actual reality is that the deployment of 370,000 troops on the 80,000 polling stations across Pakistan, was carried out by the military on the demand of ECP.
In this regard, DG ISPR Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor publicly announced that the military’s only role is to assist the ECP to carry out its election duties and to ensure the safety and protection of the citizens of Pakistan on the polling day. Another attack was launched by the media intellectuals, who associated the symbols of jeep and dolphin with the military and predicted them to be establishment backed groups.
Conversely, both of these groups could not gain the massive support, which strengthens the point that had these parties being covertly supported by the establishment and had the establishment rigged the elections, in either case, those groups would have won. In addition to this, instead of applauding the laudable service by the boys, media houses and pseudo-liberals on the pay-roll of external forces have been involved in fueling suspicion and skepticism against Pakistan’s military.
Not only military, but this time judiciary has also been brutally injured by the spade of these conspiracy theories. The slogans of ‘selective justice’ and ‘selective accountability’ have brought stark disrespect to one of the fundamental pillars of state. The voices of selective accountability have gained pitch after the ousting of Nawaz Shareef, the then premier.
As per PML-N, the Party’s Supreme Nawaz Shareef, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt(r) Safdar have been politically victimized by an accountability court. For instance, if we keep this point in consideration, a question arises: did the military, judiciary or the political rivals of PML-N ask them to not present evidence justifying their stance and proving their innocence in front of the court? In fact, the actual reality is that they were apprehended, went through a trial and then sentenced for their malpractices.
Additionally, those who try to defame the judiciary with the help of slogans of selective accountability should be made aware of the fact that political leaders from PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) and PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) have also been held accountable by the courts. It has been observed that the judiciary has restored its independent and apolitical posture, even against the big-wigs. Consequently, instead of attacking the judiciary for its success, it is high time to support and felicitate it.
The blatant contrast can be easily observed between the reports of neutral and independent International watch dogs, and the conspiracy theories fed and fostered by the political parties with vested interests.
Allegations regarding ECP’s involvement in the pre and post-poll engineering served as the last nail in the coffin. ECP is the, constitutionally independent body, responsible to hold free and fair elections. From qualifying and disqualifying a candidate to the announcement of the elections result, ECP deals with every aspect of the electoral exercise. Representatives of the political parties have severely criticized the role of ECP in facilitating electoral engineering, by not providing a level playing field to the candidates of all parties. In addition to this, the delay in the result – owing to the crash of RTS – was negatively used by the critics to further taint the image of ECP, while forgetting that the RTS was designed during the tenure of our previous government.
Conversely, the reports of international watchdogs tell a different story. The observer groups of CommonWealth and the European Union, both, are of the view that the assessment of GE 2018 shows a positive result in the context of management and fairness. Gen. Abdulsalami A. Abubakar, Chairman of Commonwealth Observer Group to Pakistan, has also given satisfactory comments related to the election exercise.
Similarly, Michael Gahler, chief observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission to Pakistan said, “There is an improvement as compared to the previous election held in 2013”. He further said that some 50 recommendations were suggested by EU mission after the 2013 elections, out of which 36 were implemented, which is an appreciable progress.
The blatant contrast can be easily observed between the reports of neutral and independent International watchdogs, and the conspiracy theories fed and fostered by the political parties with vested interests. Moreover, it is not a hidden fact that the heads of these strong institutions had been mainly selected by the then government of PML-N in collaboration with opposition; hence, they are not in a comfortable position to raise any objection regarding the issue.
As far as the level playing field is concerned, switching loyalties before the elections is a common practice in every electoral culture. On an optimistic note, Imran Khan – the PM to be – has ensured to help the aggrieved parties regarding their rigging concerns. Similarly, ECP is also trying to pacify the situation by probing into the RTS failure and delay in the result delivery and submission.
The present time calls for the adoption of a prudent and a patriotic approach by all the national players, because no matter what, Pakistan comes first.
All the aforementioned points are sufficient to unveil the fact that except for a few issues of trivial nature, no incident of massive rigging has been observed. However, the rhetoric of rigging is just propagated by the anti-state forces and further used by the political parties to defame the national institutions at home and at the international arena. This anti-institutional approach furthers the threats of Pakistan being exposed to a hybrid war.
It is a type of warfare in which the general populace of a country is targeted through unconventional means – media, cyberspace, etc. – with the aim of an anti-state propaganda setting. In this type of warfare, anti-institutional sentiments are inculcated in the minds of the general populace, which then becomes skeptical and doubtful regarding the role of the National institutions. This skepticism then leads to the general mayhem, which weakens the national institutions; and once the institutions become fragile, the respective state falls prey to the malicious designs of rival powers.
To make the nefarious plans of anti-state forces unsuccessful, it is now the utmost responsibility of all the political parties to respect the public mandate and the democratic process. At this critical juncture, media shall play a proactive and a responsible role, and shun the approach of illogical institutional criticism. The present time calls for the adoption of a prudent and a patriotic approach by all the national players because no matter what, Pakistan comes first.
Miss Merwah Hamid Qureshi holds an M. Phil Degree in Biochemistry from QAU, Islamabad and is also a visiting lecturer for International Relations at National Officers Academy (NOA), Rawalpindi. She is a freelance content writer for online portals like Amazon. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.