In a surprise move the Lahore High Court nullified the nomination forms for the election 2018. These were the same forms used for the Senate elections and approved by the act of parliament by all political parties. The Baluchistan Assembly before ending its tenure passed a resolution that the elections be delayed for a period of one month as the ‘majority’ of the people in Baluchistan were planning to go on ‘Hajj’. How the Baluchistan Assembly members came to know of this information or data is anybody’s guess.

The most interesting stance regarding the elections is that of Pakistan People’s Party which has declared several times that it does not want any delay in the general elections but then, they have a strong hold in Baluchistan Assembly which as it happens, wants the opposite.

Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf for some reason is making a spectacle of itself at the critical time of the commencement of election campaign. They have demonstrated lack of confidence, inability for thorough and timely homework for all decision making, lack of understanding for constitutional processes and weak choices for nomination on even temporary posts. This non-serious attitude of PTI has already cost them a huge embarrassment and has exposed the decision making structure in the party which comes out as frivolous.

The nomination of a suitable candidate for caretaker Chief Minister for Punjab turned out to be a real Rubicon for PTI as one after the other they came up with random names and kept changing them even during announcements made by different spokesmen. They even suggested the name of Oriya Maqbool Jan who is a known misogynist and an extremist who has made quite a reputation for himself regarding the conquest of Delhi in a proverbial ‘Ghazwa-e-Hind’. Another candidate Ayaz Amir has also tainted reputation and a clear allegiance to PTI.

If PTI considers itself to be a serious national level political party then it has to demonstrate a strong adherence to principles and make sure that there is a system in place for filtering people who are morally and ethically unsuitable for appointments on important posts.

What is even more alarming is the fact that there is no process in the party through which anyone is filtered or any background check is made before he is accepted as a basic member in the party. This has led to another few embarrassing incidents where people of dubious repute and criminal backgrounds have been accepted, and their photos are released on social media as they are greeted by the PTI chairman, with the party scarf, happily wrapped around their necks. Last week a notorious man Farooq Bandial, who was convicted in the rape of a famous film artist and awarded a death sentence was inducted by PTI and his photos released with PTI chairman, only to be kicked out later as the backlash on social media came in strong. The important question is what is the procedure of the induction of people in PTI and how on earth is that possible that no one knew the background of this person convicted in the very famous rape case.

The continuous influx of people of all kinds in the last few weeks before the elections is a distressing concern for the old party members and workers who feel strongly that this policy has hurt the party and weakened its claims of ‘change’ for the better.

The other noticeable thing is that there is a lot of chaos generated in the PTI because of the system opted for the allocation of party tickets for the national and provincial assemblies. Rather than making a decision on performance and strength in the constituency, PTI encouraged everybody to apply for the party ticket-along with a substantial fee-which resulted in a mad dash for it and each and every member who had some money to spare decided to go for it. Although the PTI leaders assure that only the few selected and short listed candidates would be considered in the parliamentary board meeting for final ticket awarding but they overlooked the fact that by the time the final names would be presented in the board many rivalries would be generated, many hopes quashed and many hearts broken. The applicants that have worked for the last many weeks on lobbying for a party ticket have pitched against each other and this would create a lot of fissures in the electoral constituencies before the elections are held.

PML –N has adopted another approach and a few select committees have been constituted which will decide the candidates from all over the countries and their names would be presented to the leadership for final announcement.

Pakistan People’s Party has announced that it would be contesting elections on all the constituencies in Pakistan. That in the light of ground realities is a very ambitious announcement considering that they have very weak position in Punjab and there are no winners in their bag there.

But the most noteworthy thing is that none of the parties seem to be in a hurry to make sure that they meet the schedule or complete the nominations well in time. All parties are yet to announce the candidates and are still quite relaxed about this mammoth task.

More than the assembly resolutions, or the letter of the Ex chief Minister of KPK for the delay of the elections, or even the verdict of the Lahore High Court, it is the attitude of the political parties which demonstrates that nobody is confident in the holding of elections in time.

This uncertainty regarding the elections or the lack of seriousness as demonstrated by the political parties would but have a very negative effect on the atmosphere regarding the holding of free and fair elections in Pakistan. The perception is that there are forces working behind the scenes to make sure the elections are delayed and that they have their own agendas for the delay of the general elections.

There is also the perception that the reason for wanting to delay the election is the fact that the establishment wants to engineer the election results. The persistent influx of people, although not very significant is indicative that there is a design to the moves but then it is still not evident of how much that is going to reflect on the decision of the voters on the Election Day.

This election is very significant in terms of the independent decision that the people are able to make on the Election Day despite all the moves and maneuvers in the corridors of power.

Let the people of Pakistan decide what they want for themselves and let the election results announce the will of the people. No delay can change the outcome of the elections if the people of Pakistan decide to stand for themselves and not bow down to any pressure.

The people must judge the character of the political party on the basis of the claims that they made and on the delivery of what they promised. It is a decisive time in the history of Pakistan for establishing the will of the people and the supremacy of civilian rule.

 

The writer is a freelance journalist based in Lahore. She has extensive experience in

writing on development economics and disaster management.