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Transparent Elections in Pakistan

06 September, 2007

By Munir Hussain Bhatti


Politics of Pakistan is full of unfair and maneuvered elections. No doubt, the elections of 1970s were transparent, but these polls were conducted under the supervision of an army dictator, who has ambition to become the President of Pakistan. After these free and fair elections the country dismembered because in the eastern wing Awami Party emerged as triumphant and in the western wing PPP won majority of the seats. Strangely both parties do not won a single seat in the other wing. Even after the tearing of one limb of Pakistan, the self-centered politicians of the truncated country did not learn any lesson from their previous mistakes. Therefore, the history of the subsequent elections in Pakistan is full of horse trading and rigging.

Frequent army intervention to control civilian affairs is also a major impediment in the way of establishment of public rule in Pakistan through free and fair elections. The men in khaki have ruled the country for more than 30 years. Therefore, democratic institutions could not flourish. Democratic leaders only emerge from democratic institutions. Dialogue is the fundamental principle of democracy for which army is not trained because they only learn to obey orders. Therefore, even after the passage of six decades, a ragtag controlled democracy is working in Pakistan to insult the spirit of democratic system.

Elections provide a ray of hope to the public for a change. Therefore, they become enthusiastic before every election. But after the elections all their hopes dash to the ground. The so-called public representatives do not bother to visit their constituency; therefore, the public development remains in the balance.

The totalitarian leaders, who nominate different office bearers, head the political parties. These political parties do not conduct regular elections within their ranks; therefore, they are themselves deprived of democratic grains. In developed countries leaders emerge from political parties but in Pakistan leaders form their own political parties after deserting another political party.

Frequent change of loyalties is also a major impediment in the way of institutionalization of democracy. The politicians join the political party, which they think would be triumphant in the upcoming elections. Some contest elections as independent candidates and they join the political party surface successful in the elections. They bargain with the party in power for becoming parliamentary secretaries, advisors, chairmen of standing committees and ministers. Their sole aim is to get maximum self-centered benefit. The do not care about the poor public due to votes of which they come to power. Therefore, their fate never changes after the elections.

Transparent elections in Pakistan are still a dream. But every dark cloud has a silver lining. The landmark decision of the Supreme Court has shown a glimmer of anticipation to the disappointed public. This milestone decision is the major breakthrough towards complete sovereignty of judiciary. An independent judiciary can help in the holding of transparent elections by the establishment of unbiased and powerful election commission. The dream of founding of democracy through transparent elections would only be realized when the institutions would be stronger than personalities and pressure groups.

Reader Comments:

Transparent Elections

Writer has done a great job to explain all about elections and past experiences. Going back to the past elections when a party lost they said that elections were rigged. Civilian dictators Nawaz Sharif and BB were busy in changing their terms every two years and there was no stable government, though elected through votes but failed to deliver to the public who voted them in. Comparing with the west democracy its too early to do that. In West they had problems for many many years about democracies. In England women had no right of vote. No right of property. There were similar cases in US where inside the parliament they became violent and killed each other. Pakistan is a developing country and why military came to intervene is very well known. When civilian dictators failed to perform and robbed the country the military had to come in to restore the admininstration. Looking at the elections when Sheikh Mujibur Rehman had won majority seats ZAB would not accept his win and wanted him to go to East Pakistan and become PM there and he will take charge of PM in West Pakistan. It is a trial and error period but military must be credited for their good work and strong defense. Look at the earthquake of 8th October 2005, it was the military who managed to take care of a mega disaster. A Civilian government could not have done so nicely as done by military personnel.Military had done rehabilitation of victims in a professional mannner. Political parties in OPP did not bother to go to the affected areas just to console the victims and stayed away. They need ability to understand the problems of their own people. They worry more about themselves. I totally agree with you on this point that so-called public representatives do not bother to visit their constituency; therefore, the public development remains in the balance. When there was sugar shortage a lady MNA from PPP was interviewed by a Media Reporter and asked her the price of sugar, the response was Rs.5.00per kg. Lady was also asked if she ever went out to see her constituant if they had any problems. MNA answered she has'nt got time. What is lacking in Pakistan is the basic education and basics. Government of Gen. Musharraf and PM Mr. Aziz has done lot better than two previous PMs BB and Nawaz Sharif in lifting the economy up and providing the basics to the population though long way to go yet but must be credited so far done. Elections will be fair and transparent but who is going to accept. International Observers will be there to monitor the elections and hopefully it will go smoothly. Educate the entire population so that they understand democracy better and do give their vote to right person.


Mohammad, United Arab Emirates - 07 September, 2007

Elections require viable political parties.

Do we have viable political parties? The more activists: PPP, PML(N), MMA and PML(Q), none can win a majority at the polls. Everyone wants democracy in Pakistan, but none knows how. Never mind how transparent the election, it is not going to serve democracy. Democracy requires basically two mainstream political parties that have roots at the grass level and a country wide network; books of audited accounts, a dedicated paid staff in the secretariat and periodical in-party elections. The country lacks democratic culture and presentable traditions. The Election Commission is not conversant with democracy and it is a paper tiger

Sher Mohammad, Pakistan - 09 September, 2007

What Transparency?

We desperately need absolutely foolproof and transparent elections for its products to survive and perform to convert promises into reality. We are fed up seeing, yet expecting empty seats in our legislative assemblies to pave our destiny. We are also fed up of the persistent Coupocracy spanking dead-horses of Lootocracy and Loutacracy. Latest specter of these sycophants was shamelessly present in the Nawaz Sharif's flight to Pakistan. This reference goes to Mustafa Khar rubbing shoulders with his arch enemy of yesterday. Only transparency observed was of a glaring view of the ace Louta in our politics.
Imagine the depth of our defiant bog. Out of 26 Prime Ministers lasting a total 27 years in our history, non could complete tenure and 4 Martial Laws intervened with 33 years of misrule in the name of restoring democracy. So, what hope is there to expect miracles from the current exercise?
Possible way out of our perpetually sustaining quagmire is in passionate revision and flawless application of a new criteria for selecting our political aspirants on the new yardsticks which should be applied 100% on merits. Our existing politicians can not transform their nature overnight and become born-again angels Unless we overhaul the entire set-up for selecting leaders with a sincere resolve to bring sanity in democracy, all efforts will continue to produce the same disappointments.

Immediately after the March reference against the Chief Justice and resulting judicial crisis, I was reminded of an instance from the US during Carter's time, when a top judge (a lady) voluntarily resigned from office on discovering that, she had kept a house maid during initial years of her career, over 30 years back, who the media complained and produced confirming documents, was an illegal Mexican immigrant. Can we expect such sou-motto action by any judge against self?

We shall have to take painful decisions against our Zombie Politicians.The living-dead who are only dead-weights only good for graves. This would require a revolutionary change to bring new breed politicians. The process undoubtedly, will be painstakingly tortuous but, the only course out of the recurring crisis we are embroiled in. In search of short-cuts to prosperity, we have failed for 60 years and will continue in drift till we act to correct our course.

Perhaps, we need spoon feeding to grow. Therefore, I suggest a simple but fool-proof procedure for correcting our faults in struggle to grow and mature as a self respecting and honourable nation, by devising means and procedures to bring in a new breed of really and genuinely nationalist Pakistani leaders. Outlines of the proposed procedure are, as follows:-

1-Establish and employ think-tank of track record proven successful selfless senior people still available and assign to them the task of developing new Rules for selecting, screening and monitoring all issues related to the Political Activities in Pakistan.
2-Find fresh blood politicians on nation-wide talent hunt, through well articulated "On-line Talent Hunt Tests" for political aspirants, giving high weight-age to such qualities as, intelligence quotient (IQ), knowledge and respect to the founding principles and reasons for the creation of Pakistan, honesty, sincerity, incorruptibility, willingness to give sacrifices for the nation, knowledge about the history of nation, areas of our weaknesses and possible ways of improvement etc. There should also be high weight-age given to the knowledge about the new prescribed rules of business, aptitude and keenness for allegiance and sincerity to the job description accepted.
4-Ensure practical separation of Religion from Politics and Judiciary from the Executive.
5- Establish Sensor Code and frequent screening through it, of all political office holders including the PM, for violations of prescribed rules of business as well as as their own manifestos and promises to their electorate and appropriate penalties, including sensor on their misrules and unbecoming social behaviour.
6-Enforce stringent measures to stop ambush-journalism.
7-Create and enforce procedures for performance based bureaucracy.
8-Reform and sanitize the Police Force.
9-Reform roles of the Armed Forces.
10-Create necessary contributory factors to glorify the dignity of labour.
11- Enforce Desk Survey for performance evaluation of all functionaries of the governance.

All very nice words on paper. But who cares? These things are only meant for some foolhardy zealots always dreaming of good things waiting to happen and create value for virtuous deeds. We are definitely not yet a nation, where eagles (Shaheens) dare.



M.Saeed, Pakistan - 10 September, 2007

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