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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Questioning the credibility of Pakistan’s election system

Muhammad Ayaz Khan thinks it has been a well-established reality that some leaders here have distorted the election system to advance their personal interests over the interests of the people and the state. While they continued to prosper with each new stint in the annals of power, the state kept shrinking in both writ and relevance.

Election in Pakistan is a paradox in itself. Everybody knows what is happening, how it is happening, who is involved and what is being done. But nobody is willing to pinpoint the problem. The amount of bullshit that follows election campaigns as in Daska indicates that maybe the procedure is so difficult and so open to manipulation that it is very easy to do that, and it is impossible to monitor & detect it. Nothing can be further from the truth.

The procedures are simple, checks and balances are there and in front of everybody and hardly anything is hidden. No corruption and manipulation of the election process are possible without the connivance of the administration and the passive docility of all-party representatives. Starting from form 45 ending with conveying the election result everything has a proper monitoring procedure & checks and balances. But Karachi happens, Daska happens, allegations happen. How? It’s very simple. Nobody wants to solve it. Government, bureaucracy, administration, police, election commission, judiciary, everyone is in it and no one wants to end the problem.

Read more: Why the people of AJK put their confidence in PM Khan’s PTI

Everyone has some financial stakes in there

It takes ONE DAY to solve what happened when people go missing before reporting election results or form 45 is not submitted. But if it is solved then a cash cow will be killed for the future. The situation is kept deliberately vague, besmirched in fog, invisible to the naked eye, complications imagined are spun to make it difficult and incomprehensible because everyone wants to earn via this & everyone means everyone.

The reason for opposition to EVM is simply because of the cash cow of election fraud which allows almost everyone to earn money and also allows parties not having 5 % vote bank shamelessly declare that they have been robbed. The establishment goes along with that because it allows them to have one group of people in the wings who are corruptible and ready to take over if anything goes wrong with the present system.

In Pakistan, every constituency has carefully cultivated thousands of fake votes that have been facilitated by both the leading parties over the years. These votes actually play a major role in getting some of the fake electables elected. Let’s take a look at the fake vote bank:

Dead voters: Dead people are not removed from the voter list but continue to be retained. So-called electables with influence on the ground manage to manipulate the votes to be polled to them on election day.

Simple fake voters: Simple fake voters have been added to the list over the years and retained. None of the parties are serious in getting them removed as on election day the one with the muscles gets the most benefit.

Double registered voters: A lot of people work away from home and have been registered as double voters by the political parties. Again, political parties and electable on the ground keep track of these votes and utilize them to their own benefit as and when necessary.

Read more: Will PDM’s long march topple Imran Khan’s government?

Displaced voters: Voters who have moved abroad, immigrated, or temporarily moved abroad are also used by these groups to vote knowing very well that nobody is in a position to challenge the vote.

Multiple Vote: depending upon the muscle strength of so-called electables they are again in a position and do ensure multiple votes (sometimes going as far as 18 from a person) to be cast.

This is just one aspect of the election being fraudulently tainted

Now add to that the manipulation via delimitations of the constituency, just collecting the ID card of the voters and voting themselves (Karachi and interior Sindh comes to mind), Just stuffing the ballot boxes, Hijacking the polling booth (though much rarer in Pakistan), Simply changing the form 45 total, just kidnapping the polling agent, etc., etc. In Pakistani elections, the electable starts with a 20000-vote advantage right from the beginning. This is even before a single vote has been cast. Then all the other options are there. An election is a big money-spinner. Now with the silly electronic voting machine, all these opportunities will be lost.

Do you need a Sherlock Holmes to deduce these things or a brilliant mind to see through the fog and understand what is happening? No, not at all. Everyone knows this and everyone is in hands and gloves to retain this bullshit system as it earns them money. Everyone knows that in Karachi ID cards are taken away by MQM to vote. That is not to say that MQM did not have a vote bank. They would have probably won the election on their own but not get this overwhelming 150000 lead. Who did not know it? Everyone including the establishment knew it but it suited them to go along with it.

If they want to solve it and correct it, they can do it. Reaching the truth will take them 24 hours but reaching the truth is not the goal. Tainted elections suit everyone except Pakistan. Pakistan gets destabilized, polarized and divided because of claims and counterclaims. But the winner wins, the losers cry fraud and few parties with not even 5 % vote bank can shamelessly say we were robbed.

Read more: There will no NRO for Imran Khan, says Maryam Nawaz

All it needs is a political will to change this. India has done it and now in India the largest democracy in the world the loser accepts the loss and congratulates the winner. There is no reason that we can’t do the same. The time is now if we don’t do it now we will be damaging democracy and people will abhor our memory. It’s time to take action.

The author has worked for Unilever for 25 years. He is a professional translator/interpreter of five languages and is also a certified computer trainer. He is currently living in Virginia, USA. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.