Thursday, July 25, 2024

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No politics without power, no elections without competition

8 Feb 2024 is the election day as categorically announced by SC by issuing proper executive order. All apprehensions and speculations and propaganda regarding further delay has vanished by firm assurance by Gen Asim Munir COAS while talking to traders. There have been grave violations by government in not holding elections in 90 days in spite of clear cut directive by Supreme Court. Present caretaker governments have completed 90 days their stay is not covered under constitution which continues to be violated, All hopes are pinned on 8 Feb 2024, it is hoped there will be no action replay of alleged 2018 elections. Is it really an election day or selection day? I am sure the answer is known to everybody. This is typical election where selection of probable PM has already been made and he has started behaving as de facto Prime Minister. It gives weightage to this thinking because ECP and Punjab government is according full protocol to PML N supermo whose cases are being annulled one by one to pave way for his election and subsequent selection knowing well that they have lost their vote bank except few pockets. Their defeat in bye elections gives sufficient indication what is going to happen in general elections. Any manipulation may pose serious problem therefore it is advisable let justice prevail. If natural justice is disturbed, then no party shall accept the results and that would be beginning of new era of instability and further drowning the economy Elections are a central feature of any democracy where democrats exercise their right to vote their favorite candidate. For elections to express the will of the electorate, they must be ‘free and fair’, and also transparent. What is free and fair election. ‘Free’ means that all those entitled to vote have the right to be registered and to vote and must be free to make their choice. An election is considered ‘free’ when you can decide whether or not to vote and vote freely for the candidate or party of your choice without any fear or intimidation. ‘Fair’ means that all registered political parties have an equal right to contest the elections, campaign for voter support and hold meetings and rallies without any discrimination. The world is watching how PTI candidates are being harassed openly but ECP is not moved at all.
A free and fair election is defined by political scientist Robert Dahl as an election in which “coercion is comparatively uncommon”. A free and fair election involves political freedoms and fair processes leading up to the vote, a fair count of eligible voters who cast a ballot and acceptance of election results by all parties.. Every individual who is denied the right to vote or to be registered as a voter shall be entitled to appeal to a jurisdiction competent to review such decisions and to correct errors promptly and effectively same day. Every candidate is free to express political opinions without interference; move freely within the country in order to campaign for election; campaign on an equal basis with other political parties.
Every candidate for election and every political party shall have an equal opportunity of access to the media, particularly the mass communications media, in order to put forward their political views. Every individual and every political party has the right to the protection of the law and to a remedy for violation of election laws. Every individual or political party whose candidature, party or campaign rights are denied or restricted ECP to come in action. Every candidate and political party competing in an election shall respect the rights and freedoms of others ,every candidate and political party competing in an election shall accept the outcome of a free and fair election. That freedom of movement, assembly, association and expression are respected, particularly in the context of political rallies and meetings, parties and candidates are free to communicate their views to the electorate, and that they enjoy equality of access to State and public-service media;that the necessary steps are taken to guarantee non-partisan coverage in State and public-service media.
What is practically happening and what little is being reported PTI is not getting fair treatment un necessary hurdles are being created. This has also been observed by the Supreme Court Justice Athar Minallah that PTI’s allegations of level playing field prima faci appear to be correct. Take the case of intra party elections of PTI. Before some comment is made let us understand what does this means. In Pakistan, political parties and state politics revolve around personalities and some monastic families. Even mainstream political parties of Pakistan avoided intra-party elections and leading leadership comes from the top through direct nomination. In this way all the portfolios within the parties are conformed. But in practice the grass-roots members of political parties are ignored in all crucial decisions making within the party. This is true to all the political parties. There are 175 political parties registered with Election Commission of Pakistan and one alliance known as GDA (Grand Democratic Alliance). Question arises has all the political parties conducted their intra party elections? The emphatic answer is NO. ECP’s action in isolation against PTI is totally unfair and against natural justice. Lest we forget PTI is the most popular party of the country any attempt to keep it out from election by any means shall prove counterproductive and not good for the country.

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