Delay talk


WITH about a month remaining in the general elections, some in the Senate seem to have just woken up to the realisation that the polls are being held in winter and in an adverse security environment. On Friday afternoon, as TV channels broke the news of the passage of a Senate resolution seeking a further delay in polls, lingering fears about the fate of Pakistani democracy were once again thrown into sharp relief.

As the names of those who had tabled the proposition were flashed on screen, one was tempted to speculate, based on their past activities in the Senate, who the sponsors of their latest mischief might be. As more details emerged, however, there was some comfort to be found in the fact that the resolution was the work of just a handful of lawmakers seemingly taking advantage of their peers` absence. It soon also emerged that arguments in favour of another delay had been forcefully rebutted by a PML-N senator, Afnanullah Khan.

With the Supreme Court firm in its determination to hold elections on February 8, and the PML-N too now publicly opposed to any further delays, we can continue to hope that the electoral process will continue moving forward despite such distractions and theatrics. The less said about these senators` `adventure`, the better. The actions of a few bad apples have brought parliament into much disrepute over the last few years.

The wilful abandonment of the Constitution the source of all lawmakers` relevance and power has the potential to destroy the entire edifice of the Pakistani political system. It is beyond understanding why some continue to persist in this approach.

While keeping with democratic norms, they must be identified and held to account for their repugnant actions either by the people, exercising their right to do so through the ballot box, or by the parties and lawmakers who have elected them to the upper house.

Lastly, it must be said that Senator Afnanullah`s speech inspired a fair bit of melancholy. It was both sad and satisfying to see a PML-N leader making the same arguments against delaying elections that had been made last year by many well-meaning citizens as they exhorted the PDM-led government and the ECP not to abandon the constitutional scheme on election timelines.

Those responsible had been repeatedly warned then that the precedent they were setting would one day cause them great regret. Time has proven that the warning was a prescient one.

After delaying the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assembly elections on the pretext of inadequate security, the PML-N is now forced to argue that conditions were much worse during elections held in 2008 and 2013. It seems we have come full circle. One wonders what other lessons are in store in the days ahead.

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