The 11th of May has come and gone and life in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad is returning to normal. While PAT and PTI rallies were significant political events, it was Imran Khan’s show in the Federal Capital that evoked maximum interest. This event went a long way to once again bring into focus the ‘character’ of our politicians from Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) – a character that thrived on ‘distorted truth’ and brazen statements that belied what television cameras were beaming to millions of people around the world.
While Khan Sahib’s nine point demand was not new, it was the setting of the public rally and the mammoth presence of his supporters that added a new and aggressive dimension to what PTI was demanding – electoral reforms to eliminate electoral misdemeanours. There was enough justification of these demands if one picked up the cases of the four constituencies where video evidence existed to prove manipulation of results. The ruling party was perhaps concerned that if PTI allegations were proved correct then some big names would take a tumble. One of these was now a sitting minister accused of bulldozing his way into polling stations and carrying out gross violations of the electoral code. The entire country saw proof of this on television and social media, but those mandated to take note of such acts were perhaps suffering from cataract or a cognisance disorder.
The Law Minister of Punjab went so far as to say that the PTI rally was poorly attended and a failure. I have no words to comment on this. I can only dismiss what was said with a wry smile especially if one had been watching television coverage of the event.
I must also admit that our worthy ministers are full of ready wit, which makes them eligible to create their own comedy show on TV if and when they are rejected by their voters. A sitting minister regaled us by calling the agitation an act of ‘mummies that had emerged from their graves.’
Another smoothly eloquent gentleman, who does his best to spin information related to the PPP Government in Sindh came up on media and innocently expressed his inability to understand why Imran Khan chose to disrupt life in the Federal Capital when what he said in the rally could have been easily stated in a press conference.
The Islamabad rally exposed media polarization for and against PTI. While a vast majority of channels were reporting the event as it happened, two private channels were apparently engaged in settling scores. One reporter went so far as to say that PTI workers had placed flags on chairs to make it look as if people were occupying the seats (or words to that effect). I was luckily present at the venue with a few media colleagues, when this report went on air and found that while hundreds of flags had indeed been put on chairs, the conclusion drawn by the lady was professionally incorrect. I found myself amused by the naiveté behind the report in assuming that the live hit would in any way be taken seriously by viewers.
In a nutshell, the PTI made a strong statement that should be taken note of by the Apex Judiciary for every eye is now on them to see that election misdemeanours are redressed and those who indulged in such acts are unseated, for we cannot be led by liars and men with flawed integrity. Provision of, or failure to provide electoral justice at this critical point in our history will have far reaching effects on the future of this country – effects that will consolidate or shatter our belief in democracy.
The writer is a freelance columnist.