It has been agitating my mind since the days of 1970 elections that how a person who is guilty of working against Pakistan, guilty of corruption, malpractices, looter and plunderer, with criminal records, or wanted by police or even in jail could contest elections. To ensure transparency and to conduct free and fair elections government has constitutionally established autonomous independent body known as Election Commission of Pakistan .Unfortunately except for 1970 elections declared most free and fair rest all elections have been controversial as charges of massive rigging and other irregularities made these disputable. Let us put the record straight elections in East Pakistan were never held free and fair. Awami League workers were busy in stamping the ballot papers without any fear of law and accountability and that is how the majority was obtained. The responsibility remains that of the election commission of Pakistan, unfortunately they did not do well and we lost half the country.
Election Commission of Pakistan is not only to conduct elections but its main responsibility is to properly scrutinize the applicants and ensure that no person with shady record is cleared to contest elections. Unfortunately there has been lot of political interference and our institutions have always been under pressure as a result they would surrender to pressure to save their jobs. It was Gen Zia-ul-Haq who amended the constitution and introduced Article 62 and 63 which clearly lays down the criteria who can contest elections but these clauses were not implemented in letter and spirit by the ECP and created unnecessary mess.
Interpretation of the constitution is the sole domain of Supreme Court and is binding on all the political parties and general public at large. The job that is to be done by ECP is seldom done as a result people approach Supreme Court to challenge wrong doings of ECP. It is an open secret that Nawaz Sharif lost his premier ship on account of violation of article 62 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Question arises how on earth any person who does not measure up to article 62 and 63 could contest elections and represent people of his constituency. In Pakistan it is all free and all those people who otherwise should be debarred taking part in elections find their way in assemblies. ECP has the full and final authority to reject or accept nomination form on the basis of information gathered about any individual contesting the election, but practically it is not done. Within ECP the opinion is divided. In one constituency returning officer accepts the nomination paper and in other constituency the paper is rejected. They need to put their house in order. Another interesting feature of our democracy is that a person can contest election from many constituencies that should never be allowed. No person should be allowed to contest election from provinces other than he lives. These are basic things and has never been attended. As long as the old laws are not amended nothing will change. First and foremost duty of ECP is to ensure that no person whose cases are in the court, or has been convicted in the past and has bad reputation has no right to represent people.
Pakistan is unique country where rulers feel that no one can question their actions and they are the sole authority and the custodian of Pakistan and they are free to do anything in the name of so called democracy. PML N and PPP leadership is facing corruption charges on mega projects of their own times and has nothing to do with PTI government. Imagine the laws of the country, a person who is involved in mega corruptions and is under trial in NAB courts has been appointed as Chairman of Public Account Committee. What message we are giving to the world. If this is democracy then we all have to ponder over it and say good bye to democracy. Democracy does not mean that criminals, looters should find their place in the parliament. What is happening in the parliament for last four months, a grand tamasha is going on. What a waste of public money. Opposition is on war path and their only job is to criticize Imran Khan. Unfortunately they have lost their sleep and have not yet reconciled that Imran Khan is the prime minister. The sooner they accept this reality things will settle down. Opposition is following Newton’s third law of motion” For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” But government’s action are for the improvement of the rotten system and step towards making Naya Pakistan, opposition reaction is to create hurdles, walk outs, make noise in the parliament etc. Another classical rule is to issue production order of under trial leaders to attend assembly sessions. This is very funny situation, how on earth a person facing corruption charges be brought in the house only to create noise and criticize NAB, judiciary and the government. This should not be allowed, it has become a joke. Why it is happening the main reason is the flexibility shown by Supreme Court during trials allowing PML N leaders to say anything to superior court judges, though some of them were charged but later on they all begged for mercy and SC was magnanimous to pardon them.
The political leaders must not seek shelter under the cover of their parties but must have moral courage to face the music. Political parties shall have to change their mindset and side with the leader if he is right. Take the case of Asif Zardari, everyone has right to ask question what is his source of income? How the assets have been beyond his earning. Likewise all those who have looted public money must answer how they accumulated such big wealth. It is time that all such cases be decided within 60 days so that country moves forward. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr “we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools”
The writer is a freelance journalist and defence Analyst.