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Benchmarking future elections

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25 Feb will be remembered as historic day in the history of Pakistan, a day of great significance breaking all the shackles of past history of ECP since its inception rose to the occasion and forgetting about their past role behaving as silent spectators took independent and very bold decision and unanimously declared the NA-75, Daska by election as void and ordered fresh poll in the entire constituency to be held on 18 March. It is now immaterial who wins as effort was to secure vote for the Senate election. The ECP came to conclusion that the conducive environment was not available to the candidates and the voters and the poll in the constituency has not been conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in the transparent manner, incidents of murders, firing, injuries, bad law and order situation, creating harassment to voters and other circumstances leading to make the process of result doubtful/unascertainable. Apart from this the ECP recommended the establishment division to suspend deputy commissioner, assistant commissioner and District Police Officer Daska. Apart from this ECP directed the government to transfer Commissioner Gujranwala and RPO. The Punjab Chief Secretary and IG Punjab have also been summoned on 4 March for ignoring their duties. It is now a matter of record while viewing election process it looked as if the people were enjoying some exhibition, there was no discipline in the people, and it looked as if crowd had gathered to witness Tamasha. Secondly why 20 presiding officers were missing, how dare they leave place of duty along with polling stationary. Why they were not attending phone calls of ECP. The lame excuse of their batteries being low surprisingly should be verified by extracting the data of cell phone to know the authenticity of their statement. Daska bye election has now set an example for the future course of action by taking action against the government functionaries for dereliction of their duties and message should be very clear that ECP now means business. Before the polling started tempers were high on both sides workers armed with weapons were seen moving in all directions without any fear of law in the presence of police. It looked as if it was not election but some sort of Mela. On such occasions especially in such high profile and sensitive bye election senior officers should have been present to ensure smooth conduct of election process but none of them bothered it constitutes misconduct on their part. The entire show was left in the hands of juniors who took this exercise very lightly. The administration failed to take appropriate security measures and allowed vandalism as if it was free for all. We shall not discuss the statements of two contesting parties as both behaved wildly and immaturely as usual accusing each other. It is very interesting to note that after the announcement of ECP that result of by election will not be announced both parties prominent leaders including ministers through press conference were assuring the people that whatever decision is given by the ECP will be accepted as such. But the nation witnessed worst scenario when the ECP declared election void the PTI took U turn and immediately announced that the decision of ECP will be challenged where as PML N accepted the result. It is good that it was Chief Election Commissioner himself who was closely watching Tamasha going on in Daska constituency that helped him to take right action at the right time. Unfortunately this ugly situation resulted in the death of two innocent voters.
Imagine the state of preparedness of our administration knowing well the situation prevailing in the constituency that failed to conduct just one by election what can happen during general elections in 2023 when elections will take place on 272 seats. It is not difficult to predict and is no more a rocket science to estimate the damage it can cause if the things go let loose. It is time we bring proper reforms in conducting elections. How anyone can dare display his weapons and resort to aerial firing, on such occasion’s administration has special powers to arrest anybody who interferes in the smooth conduct of elections. Drastic changes are required where voters properly line up to cast their votes and after having cast their votes they should not be seen in the area and must get dispersed go back to their home or work place. Calling army in aid of civil power to conduct elections and later on put entire blame on them should now come to an end.
We call ourselves lovers of democracy but practically we never practice it. It has become a war between various filthy rich armed groups who believe in might is right. Why the entire chain of command of administration behaved as silent spectator when motorcyclists were firing indiscriminately scaring the voters. It is alleged that province is without effective Chief Minister as there is total collapse of governance; if that is the situation nothing can go right. The politics has turned in to extreme hate and revenge that has rendered our assemblies dysfunctional and if the present trend continues it will further plunge in to disaster. Our all political parties must wake up to realities, sit together resolve all issues through dialogues and take care of over 90 million people living under poverty and avoid their wrath.