The Supreme Court has severely pulled up the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for failing to implement its orders to re-do the delimitation of constituencies in Karachi. There have been allegations, backed by evidence on the ground, of gerrymandering, of constituencies having been artificially carved out to suit the ends of a particular party in the governing coalition in the Sindh province. The electoral rolls also revealed unfair practices like the listing of, in one case, over 650 voters at the address of a small house, and this was not the solitary case of an attempt at manipulating the election outcome. No doubt, these are manifest examples of pre-poll rigging. Against this background, it appears imperative that the racket must be exposed and foiled, if the much-touted goal of fair elections is to be reached; otherwise, the electoral process would turn out to be a huge farce, as far as the key metropolitan city of Sindh, with an estimated population of twenty million, is concerned.

Taking a serious view of the ECP’s inaction, the court, while issuing an interim judgment in the Karachi unrest case, made it clear that delimitation was not contingent upon a prior census as it had been argued; the ECP was fully empowered to do delimitation wherever and whenever it considered desirable but, unfortunately, despite holding several meetings, no progress had been made. The Supreme Court had given the ruling as far back as October 2011, but somehow the Commission wrongly interpreted it as an observation and not an order to be obeyed.

Against the grim backdrop of the five-year-long rule of the corrupt, the dishonest and the cheats, who entered the august halls of legislatures on the basis of fake degrees, the nation now stands united in its consciousness that this self-serving lot has to go, to be replaced by those who genuinely represent the public and will watch their interest. Whatever one might say of those who drummed up the need to implement the constitution, in letter and in spirit, and ensure the strict application of Articles 62, 63 and 218 before the polls could he held, they have done one lasting good to the country: made the people aware that there is a way out of the labyrinth of disillusionment and depression. At the same time, the ECP has lost some of its lustre and the argument that its present composition reflects the viewpoints of the parties in power in the provinces has gained strength. For all that, everyone wants the general elections to be held in time and the time left for holding the elections is too short to reconstruct the ECP. Nevertheless, the commission can, given the will, establish its credentials of impartiality by studiously following the rules necessary for holding free, fair and transparent general elections.