Those who cast ballots change nothing

Those who count them change everything

The ‘Bolshevik or Soviet Revolution’ is being discussed after completing its century this October (1917 – 2017). Marshal Stalin’s approach of stealing ballots was perhaps the biggest disservice to the movement. For long term sustainability of a country or organization people’s participation is a requirement otherwise it becomes a force and everything collapses.

There is famous verse in Urdu poetry that says it all; “dying only once was not that bad”. Dying again and again is like repeated executions or leaving the body hanging on the gallows. As a nation our mandate has been manipulated through ten farce elections and two take national referendums between 1977 to 2013. In 70 years there has been only one free and fair election in 1970. We have been robbed ten times of our most valuable asset called ‘leadership’.

On reading the statement of the interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal in which he claimed that the parliament as a very credible institution, I did not know whether to laugh or to cry. My friend Dr. kamal Monnoo the economist has claimed in his article ‘Was Plato thinking today’s Pakistan’ that on the net currency conversion basis the average wage level of a Pakistani parliamentarian and government servant is the highest in South Asia and significantly higher than our friend China, the emerging super power

It does not end here. Pakistan also has the world’s richest generals, scientists and even judges while the nation continues to languish. There seems to be an unholy alliance against the masses, people’s verdict is repeatedly manipulated to derail, change and strengthen status-quo. There is wide spread frustration amongst the youth who see no light at the end of the tunnel.

In NA-125 constituency of Lahore, Kawaja Saad Rafiq allegedly meddled in the voting process. There was a spontaneous dharna at Lalik Chowk, DHA Lahore by the first time voters. The election tribunal de-seated Saad Rafiq who then got a stay from the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP). Only a few months remain in his term of office yet there seems to be no urgency in containing and then correcting this blatant electoral manipulation.

Recently the electoral contest in NA-122 should have been an eye opener as it was held in the home ground of Sharifs from where they emerged in 1985. Gawalmandi of Lahore is an old neighbourhood. Next to the ‘Baans Bazar’ and close to Islamia Colloge Railway Road the area is thickly populated.

Several public sector companies were set up by the truly elected government of Zulfizar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) in the seventies to improve governance. Technocrats were appointed from the private sector to head these corporations. Syed Babar Ali headed the National Feretilizer Corporation (NFC), Dr. Bilgarami was the MD of Resource Development Corporation to name a few. Today the scenario is totally different. LHC should seek a list of all CEO’s together with their qualifications and salaries. Loyal bureaucrats have been posted at exorbitant salaries drawing millions with very little output. It has been reported that a Grade 20 officer who was DG LDA is drawing a monthly salary in excess of Rs. 2 million in glaring violation of rules.

No country can survive without functional institutions, each operating in its own orbit under a constitutional framework. Luckily in our struggle for democracy we were able to formulate a unanimous constitution in 1973 that has ensured survival of the federation despite several onslaughts. Election commission has not succeeded in holding a credible ballot since 1977. The entire electoral process needs a major overhaul together with organisational restructuring. Judges of the superior judiciary are poor managers; the same mismanagement has been transferred to the commission. National election calls for major administrative acumen; that has not been seen so far.

Same irregularities are repeatedly reported yet there is no correction only blame. The “people’s verdict” will only be possible if the mafia networks of ‘siasis and ‘sarkaris’ are shattered. Casting not counting of ballots by unscrupulous elements should be decisive for democracy to survive and flourish. In the words of ZAB, “Elections rock a nation: which should be for the nourishment of a nation not its exploitation and demise as has been the case since 1977.