Talal Bugti, son of Nawab Akbar Bugti, said at Lahore on Sunday that the objective reality in Balochistan was not conducive to holding general elections at this stage. He was addressing Punjab provincial convention of his party, Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP). He was not against elections, the principle, and, while talking to journalists earlier, he affirmed that timely, fair and transparent elections were necessary. It was Balochistan situation that was proving a deterrent to going to the polls. The province was burning; people were being abducted, only to be found dead lying somewhere on the roadside. Talal’s other points tending to reinforce his call for postponement were: the electoral rolls did not contain the names of nearly 250,000 internally displaced persons of Balochistan, it was impossible to have access to Dera Bugti and the province was in full control of the army and secret agencies. He even alleged that the pre-poll rigging had already started.

There is little doubt that the situation in several parts of the country and not merely in Balochistan is replete with a gnawing sense of uncertainly and fear. It hardly inspires the hope that the elections would take place in a peaceful atmosphere. And there is also no doubt that certain political circles have jumped on the bandwagon of sceptics who fear that the daily acts of terrorism and lawlessness at present occurring, themselves of no less dangerous nature, could become so severe on the election day that things might just go out of hand ending up with a large-scale massacre. The JWP leader is probably justified in levelling charges of pre-poll rigging, if one were to look at the way the political parties have, of late, been lavishly spending in advertising their performance and programmes for the future.

For all that, as in the opinion of most political thinkers, democracy has won the race against any other form of government for serving the interests of the people, its basic requisite of a periodic call to the electorate to register their preference for the rulers have to be met. And besides, the people of Pakistan know, much to their regret, of the damage the dictatorial regimes have done to the polity. The approaching elections and the state of insecurity are the challenges that the government must take with courage and determination. They should not take the anti-election rhetoric lying down and must resolve to fight the terrorist elements with full force to forestall the chances of bloodshed at the time of elections.