How Free and Fair Elections are Free and Fair in Pakistan? Version 2.0
I am writing this in continuance to my previous article “How Free and Fair Elections are Free and Fair in Pakistan?” published on Courting the Law dated December 11, 2015.
With elections 2018 around the corner and political parties still in conflict with electoral reforms, despite the recently approved Election Bill 2017, a major political party walking out of the meeting shows that a lot still has to be done to ensure free and fair elections and get the masses to accept it. In my previous article, I raised a number of questions: “Who can really term the election conducted in Pakistan as a free and fair election? Is it media? Or the political parties? Or any institution? How credible and legitimate can elections be in Pakistan?” This article, the version 2.0, is in continuance of seeking answers to the above.
Though some pointers were given in the latter part of the earlier article, but for elections 2018, at least by getting answers to the above beforehand, we may see less of the reopening of ballot boxes, recounting of votes and more importantly terming the elections credible and legitimate.
A major political party is already accusing the government of taking these electoral reforms lightly and raising objections to it for not addressing the real issues, but does giving autonomy to the Election Commission of Pakistan make ECP the real deal here? It was also stated in the 2013 general elections that ECP was an autonomous body and had all the rights, etc. but what happened? Political parties were on the street, engaging the masses and demanding re-election in some constituencies, candidates not accepting their loss/ filing appeals, counter appeals, recounting, disqualification and what not. The question that arises here is, does the average citizen of Pakistan really care?
According to the article and in the words of the honorable Finance Minsiter Ishaq Dar, “As many as 25 meetings of the main committee were held in two years while 93 meetings of sub-committee were also held during this period.” (https://samaa.tv/pakistan/2017/07/pti-stages-walkoff-as-electoral-reform-committee-approves-election-bill-2017/). This makes around 118 meetings altogether in this span of time, but have we gained anything out of these meetings? One thing for sure is that the Election Bill 2017 came into existence. Synopsis of the Election Bill had already been in circulation (https://dawn.com/news/1352144/pti-accuses-govt-of-not-taking-electoral-reforms-seriously-calls-for-autonomy-of-ecp), but the real question lies outside this box and beyond this law. Will there be acceptance of the elections held? Will political parties/ candidates accept their defeat and move forward for the prosperity of Pakistan?
Only time will tell, but with the honorable Supreme Court giving strong verdicts and keeping a vigilant check and balance, there is always a glimmer of hope, provided other institutions are on the right track including the media which is now considered a vital bloodline in all the happenings of a political scenario.
The purpose of writing this version 2.0 is that time is running and within the blink of an eye elections will be held, so we all need to ensure that the relevant questions are asked and answered by all stakeholders involved. Elections will take place sooner or later but it’s really the aftermath that counts and one needs to address this ahead of time.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any other organization with which he might be associated.