Holding free and fair elections – 05 Feb 2023

The root of all political evil in Pakistan is not following the constitution and not adhering to the principles of law

The root of all political evils in the country is based on two violations: not following the constitution and not adhering to the principles of law. To avoid the horrific and tragic suicide bombings like the one that took place in the mosque at Peshawar, the state needs to look at the problem straight in the eyes and deal with it instead of dodging it. Democracy in whatever form draws legitimacy from the support and will of the people. Masses in Pakistan have gone over to a political party in droves because they cannot make sense of what is going on and thus it is the political party that they most relate and identify with. Today more than the political association, this political party is the organising expression of people’s distrust of all those who have oppressed, subjugated, coerced and tormented their lives.

No politics can be the guardian and benefactor of the masses if it is incapable of sensing people’s mood, listening to them, understanding them and learning from them. Unless this is done, there can be no economic victory, no political victory and no moral victory — there can only be continuity of shame and indignity magnified by constant waiting for the opportune moment. A government not representing the will of the people is like a clock with broken springs — it will never serve the right purpose; it simply will not work.

The current government has decided to call an All-Parties Conference after the Peshawar bomb blast. What the government doesn’t realise is that almost all parties are part of its government therefore calling such a conference doesn’t make sense. What makes sense is to call the largest party — PTI for a dialogue. Such an offer will be refused by PTI as the current government’s policy of running with the hare and hunting with the wolves is not acceptable to it. The real concern in the PTI camp is about how a government that should be giving an impression of being in an election ode is instead appearing to be formulating long term strategies.

An independent political observer would be appalled to see the current functions of democracy in Pakistan. Losing almost on all fronts — political, economic and even security — this government is still not willing to even give an indication that it is serious in conducting the elections of the dissolved provincial assemblies in the stipulated period of 90 days.

The government must end its coercive subjugation of the opposition members and realise that these leaders that it is hounding are not accidentally created. The forced exclusion of any leader from a political party gives that party a living wound. If the idea is to create a political paralysis and leave the party leaderless then it must be realised that it is always the exact opposite that actually happens. The ouster of former PM Nawaz Sharif clearly shows that the more political engineering is conducted to oust a leader, the more he is sucked and pulled back in.

Even if the government calls an All-Party Conference and even if it lays down a new strategic and security plan to deal with terrorists, it will not be viewed as something serious and concrete coming from a very weak and poorly represented government. Given its time left in office, this government has no further mandate than preparing the nation for elections. The right political way is to go out to the people and sense what they want? Basing on the people’s aspirations and basing on the political pledges that political parties make during the election campaign that the party that wins the election and forms the government must make hard core decisions to further our national interests. Yielding power through elections is much better than holding on to it without them. The more this government stays in the office, the more its problems will be compounded. People have lost faith in the political system and they no more relate to the politics of the 90’s — the old school of thought politics. The median age of Pakistan is 23 and 50% of population living under the age of 23 years has seen enough to know how their country has been let down and betrayed. What PTI has been able to do is to give this young generation, which is not willing to hang on to the old political world that is rotten through and through, a platform where they can gather together with the oppressed to raise their voice. In this information age it will not be easy to silence their voices.

The minds of the people are pushed by circumstances and history, tells us that when the most popular topics of societal discussion become food prices, higher cost of living, war and inept government, it is time for the birth of revolutions. The political mechanism of a revolution always consists of a transfer of power from one class to another. Almost 5.2 million people out of a population of 25 million did it in Paris. Some 5 million people did it in London, 10 million people did it in Petrograd Russia and 2.3 million people did it in Tehran. In all these cases, it was the population in the capitals that achieved the revolution and the rest of the country adhered and followed.

I am not sure why anyone would want a revolution in this country? But if for some reason Pakistan witnesses a revolution it will be a country with the biggest and the youngest population to experience it. The baby boomers are on the last stretch of their hold on the public offices and positions of authority. In the next 3 to 4 years, all baby boomers should reach retirement age. Although the ruling generation and generations prior to it have failed Pakistan, one last hope from them is to hold free and fair elections in the given time frame as per the Constitution to pave way for a prosperous future.

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