Few ministers of ruling party PMLN proudly issued statements that their recent success in local body polls is a victory of democracy. One finds no reason to disagree and they for sure need to be congratulated.

The PMLN grabbed a major portion of seats in Punjab, while PPP led in Sindh. Interestingly from 2008-13, these two parties ruled in Sindh and Punjab, but did not hold local body elections. It was on the direction of the Supreme Court that these parties reluctantly agreed to complete process of polls and that too in three phases. However, it is not clearly known what the criterion to select districts for different phases was? Anyway, the result of the first two phases revealed that PMLN swept the Punjab and PPP was victorious in Sindh. The leaders of both parties are happy to retain their power in their provinces and assert that their win is the victory of democracy. Ironically, a large number of independent candidates have defeated candidates of their parties and their success reflects distrust for politicians and their parties.

This requires introspection on part of the ruling parties. First, they need to realize that local body elections are purely to devolve power to people at grass-root level. Second, these polls are held strictly under control of provincial governments. All polling staff and administrative machinery is drawn from provinces. The ECP has little control and despite the win of ruling parties, the unexpected victory of independent candidates in such large numbers is alarming. The leaders ought to come out of their utopia and face reality, that is, that public is getting fed up of empty slogans and promises.

Likewise, independent members who voluntarily or otherwise join a political party, not only betray the trust of their voters, but also taint the political party they join. These practices breed contempt for election as well as for political leaders and must be curbed. These complex problems need to be discussed, debated and solved in the best interest of democracy and the country. Otherwise, slogans to strengthen democracy would sound hollow.

RAJA SHAFAATULLAH,

Islamabad, November 22.