It is universally acknowledged that elections in a democratic dispensation are the instrument for synthesis and therefore evolution of a powerful and prosperous state. A free and fair electoral process is a weapon of change in the hands of the people, provided they exercise their right to choose. Polls also expose political character or lack of it. For the past seven decades we have been witness to electoral misdemeanours through connivance, social manipulation and coercion before, during and after voting. Dynastic politics, rampant corruption and dishonest administrations had over time eroded hope that Pakistanis may yet see a change for the better, but the improbable has occurred and Elections 2018 have restored this lost hope.
The nation had since long, sat complacently as PML-N, PPP governments emptied our coffers, neglected human development and reduced the treasury to a state of bankruptcy. More sinister was (and is) the fact that a part of the nation appeared to have been ‘brain washed’ and unable to see reality, even when their leaders crossed all lines and committed, what could be categorised as treason.
I have never considered previous elections to be a comprehensive and majority based representation of the entire Pakistani nation, simply because a large segment of educated voters referred to as the ‘silent majority’, were politically inactive and did not vote. When Imran Khan first coined the notion of change or ‘a new Pakistan’, many including myself were sceptical - twenty two years later we were proved wrong. Change has definitely arrived and not only the silent majority, but others appear to have shed apathy and fear, the former turning out in large numbers to vote, while the latter did the unthinkable - confronted candidates (including tribal chiefs) with questions, on their five year tenures.
The recently concluded polls came as an upsetting surprise for PML-N, PPP and others of their ilk. Suffering from shock and still in the grip of delusions, these parties and their leadership resorted to the only reaction within reach – calling the Election fraudulent and ‘managed’, laying the blame on national institutions including the army. These ‘losers’ ignored the fact that the army’s constitutional mission was to help the Election Commission in ensuring a fair and transparent election and they did so admirably. Lessons drawn from history and 2013 had shown where and how misdemeanours had been committed. It was thereafter a simple exercise to ensure that all loopholes and opportunities for a recurrence of these events needed to be blocked. This was successfully done through consistent presence and monitoring of the electoral process from printing of ballot papers to the vote count. If deterrence of rigging and malpractice is considered to be manipulation of election results, then the politicians publicising this notion need to be ashamed of themselves and unworthy of assuming public office.
Even as I write this piece, the numbers game is reaching a crescendo that defies description. The two biggest losing parties have called another All Parties Conference, while petty bickering continues within Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on portfolios and coalitions. The microphone appears to have become a magnet that attracts political stalwarts from PTI, some of who appear to be suffering from the ‘foot in the mouth’ disease. Khan Sahib needs to keep these players away from the media rostrum and appoint one single and sensible point of contact with the press or the people. Not doing so is likely to cause irreparable harm to what has so far been accomplished.
The lamenting issuing forth from those that fell from public esteem is disgusting as well as immature. These are not my words for I am merely repeating what I was conveyed by very dedicated PML N activist, who runs a business concern in a posh Islamabad commercial area. In his reckoning, the parties criticising the elections are generating more harm than good. This young man, with whom voting for the Sharif clan was an immutable family tradition, is so impressed with the cricketing Khan’s victory speech that he now condemns his own party for its post-election dramatics with the words, “Let democracy continue, let accountability and merit prevail, let Imran Khan and his team make Pakistan great”.
The writer is a freelance columnist.