As the election date draws nearer, Justice (r) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, Chairman, ECP has become the focus of the print and electronic media. He has been in their line of fire and not a day goes by, without harsh and unkind words being said against him and his team.

No doubt, up till now, ECP has not implemented any of the promises it has made and failed to take any action against any parliamentarians who have violated Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

ECP has also failed to post the duly filled nomination papers of the candidates on its website, which was hacked and had to be closed for several days. Yet it has announced that citizens can lodge complaints against any candidate who they feel have submitted a false declaration and ECP will take up the matter.

However, it has failed to scrutinize the nomination papers submitted to them by the candidates and yet it has announced that it will take appropriate action against any complain.

Some TV anchors have stooped so low, as to suggest that FB is too old for the Herculean Task he has taken on his fragile shoulders, while other leading journalists and political analysts have openly stated that ECP has compromised and is ineffective and unable to perform its duties. At the same time, ECP has also admitted that it is under political pressure.

However, in all fairness, let us be honest, we have a 86 year old David, who has taken on the well entrenched Goliaths of Pakistan’s politics and it is not an easy job to dislodge them from their well protected fortresses. Perhaps, it might have been more prudent if Fakhru Bhai had politely refused to take on this difficult assignment.

As such, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan had intervened and taken suo moto action and asked ECP and HEC to appear before the SC and explain as to why it is not fulfilling its role and disqualifying those parliamentarians who have not fulfilled the conditions or lied in the ECP nomination papers?

The HEC has also jumped into the arena and has warned the parliamentarians that if they fail to have their degrees verified by HEC within the date given by SC, then they will not be eligible to participate in the election.  The SC has also directed former parliamentarians to provide all the relevant information relating to Articles 62 & 63 of the Constitution to ECP and advised them to have their degrees verified by HEC before the deadline set by the Apex Court or face disqualification.

According to media reports, the SC has also clarified that former MPs/Senators will not be able to use Stay-Orders as protective shields to escape or avoid accountability.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court has taken upon its shoulders, not only to support the indecisive ECP, but is taking direct action to ensure that the elections are held without the corrupt politicians participating in them. This includes disqualifying those who had submitted fake degrees in the last elections, had Dual Nationalities and were Bank loans and Utility Bills defaulters.

It is hoped that this direct action by the Supreme Court will give ECP the necessary confidence and courage to take the same action against those candidates who fall under articles 62 and 63 in the coming elections.

However, the general impression is that the much-publicized scrutiny of the candidates by ECP is turning out to be an eyewash, as commitments made by the Commission is proving to be wrong and we will probably see the same old smiling and gloating ‘Self Above All’ members in our assemblies.

All that we can do is pray that the courageous Chief Justice and the honest Chairman of the Election Commission will carry out their promises of removing the discredited politicians from participating in the elections. However, the odds do not seem to be in their favor, not with Civil Society remaining complacent and unresponsive to the needs of the day.

Our only hope is that voters finally realize that they must vote according to the dictates of their conscience and not vote for corrupt politicians. The youth of the nation must also come out in droves and vote for change.

One positive thing that has been achieved by Dr. Tariq-ul-Qadri’s ‘One Man Show’, through his Oscar winning drama is, that he succeeded in shaking up the Supreme Court, ECP and HEC and woke them up from their deep slumber of five years. His finger waving, passionate and fiery speeches forced them to take action against the all corrupt parliamentarians, who considered themselves to be the ‘Untouchables’ of this land of the Pak and the Pure and above the law.

Today there is panic in their ranks, as Judgment Day has finally arrived and heads have begun to roll, while others worry, when will their turn come, as they sit in the Death Row of Pakistan’s politics.

However, up to now, no big shark has been caught in the accountability net, but the scrutiny of the nomination papers is not over and now we have to see if ECP will continue its work without fear or favor.

The insertion of ‘None of the above’, by ECP is a welcome move and it is something that I have been using in past elections. However, the irrelevant, personal questions and the disqualification of Ayaz Amir, a well known and respected parliamentarian and columnist, by a returning officer, for his columns in the newspapers, is a direct attack on the right of freedom of expression and has raised many questions relating to the Ideology of Pakistan.

There is no doubt, that if the coming elections are held without disqualifying the corrupt and deceitful from our political system, then the same discredited politicians will be reelected to our National Assembly and Senate and the elections will end up as an exercise in futility.

And as Pervez Musharraf, our former President, whose nomination papers have been rejected, had said in his last speech to the nation, it will be “Pakistan Ka Khuda Hafiz”. Will the rejection of the General’s nomination papers, turn out to be Musharraf Ka Khuda Hafizb also?

May Allah save Pakistan from the self-serving and Self Above All leaders and politicians.