Even if we ignore the entertainment provided by judiciary' appointed Returning Officers (ROs) by applying the constitution' article -62/63 while interviewing the potential candidates for national and provincial assemblies, there are other serious issues which are going to mar the credibility of upcoming May 11 elections in Pakistan. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced that no candidate will be allowed to seek votes in the name of religion or sect. But then it went on to nullifying its own rules, ECP allowed all the religious and sectarian parties, whose business run on religious, sectarian disharmony, were allowed to participate in the election process.

It has now been reported that at least 55 candidates from Punjab, who belong to 10 different sectarian groups, would be contesting the elections. All this is happening despite the fact that their names are listed in the 4th Schedule of Anti-Terrorist Act 1997, for alleged involvement in terrorist activities. ECP and ROs simply failed to stop processing of their candidacy and are now blaming each other for this grave failure. We shall now be ready to welcome a number of troublemakers to officially and legally run the country in the next five years. Their counterparts in North West KPK province are not behind to achieve the same goal in their own way. Taliban have been threatening  for months to disrupt the election campaign of liberal parties -- PPP, ANP and MQM, now they are out to implement their pledge. Rallies, corner meetings and election offices of these liberal parties are being attacked all across the country. On the other hand, rallies of right-wing religio-political parties are going on with full force without any fear or intimidation.

It's horrible to note that some leaders of right-wing parties are justifying these attacks as reaction by posing Taliban as aggrieved party. Apparently there is a concerted effort to keep the liberals out of election campaign, looking forward for their boycott of the same. This is a sorry state of affairs wherein religious hardliners are going to take over Pakistan.


Saudi Arab, April 25.