Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Imran Khan’s Clean Sweep and Opposition Parties’ Reaction

July 28, 2018

By Saeed Qureshi

A segment of the people in Pakistan and elsewhere who watched general elections in Pakistan on July 25, are dumbfounded over the inordinate delay of the results. It is being speculated that the polling stations sent their results first somewhere else where the results were manipulated and then forwarded to the media or made public.

Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)has emerged as the largest party winning 115 National Assembly seats. The runner up party PMNL could grab only 64 seats. The PTI is also capable of forming coalition governments in the provinces. It means it is a clean sweep for PTI. In response, all other major parties including PMLN, PPP, MMA have alleged rigging in the general elections.

The most glaring lacuna that was evident to all the television viewers was the inordinate and unjustified delay in compiling the results at various polling stations and sending those to the Election Commission Center for releasing to the media.

I heard such allegations and apprehensions being expressed by a group of analysts and observes at GEO and other TV channels who seemed to be flabbergasted over the lists of results coming in after log spells of time. They looked cynic and amused over the delay and the lead by the majority of winners from the PTI.

There was an eerie and impatient wait for quite a few hours at the TV stations. The program anchors and the teams of interlocutors had no clue as to why the results were not being finalized and announced and made public through the Media. Such a situation has seldom come to the fore during the past elections although the malpractices did take place here and there.

Finally, that spell of waiting and uncalled for suspense started breaking and the announcement began appearing on the media and the television screens. Amazingly all the three mainstream political parties lagged behind in capturing their traditional or expected seats. Could it be possible that the MQM lose several seats in their home constituencies existing in the sprawling city of Karachi?

Was it possible that the PPP would get merely a handful of seats in all the provinces of Pakistan, particularly in its home turf of Sindh province. But the most astonishing setback accrued to the PMNL that it lost majority and even a sizable number of votes in all the provinces of Pakistan even in Punjab which is also their home province.

Of late, the Election Commission of Pakistan has rejected and denied most of the appeals for recounting of the votes. If there is a caveat in the law for recounting of votes in case of a doubt and apprehension by the contesting candidates then granting approval for such requests is legal and in order. But thus far except one or two cases, no other appeals for recounting of the votes in respective constituencies has been granted.

The fundamental question being debated is as to why the results of the votes were not announced by the concerned operatives immediately. Why there was a long spell of time before these results reached the media including Television stations.

The overall number of winners not only were mostly from the PTI but their winning margin was shown much higher than their opponent candidates. It looks as if all the numbers of votes were hastily or casually announced even without counting. Even it was not the case then why the appeals for recounting are not being entertained.

Now army is not going to pressure the staffers of the polling stations or the Election Commission because they would not ask the risk of seeing the PMNL candidates winning. Nor would judiciary and the Election Commission would agree to the counting the votes again as in case of wrong doings their own workers and staff could be exposed. It is indeed a dilemma.

In the meantime, and during the course of this fiasco the main political parties which indeed are the PPP, the PMNL Fazal-Rehman’s President of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, Jamaat-Islami, MQM and others have rejected the results of the 2018 general elections. They have planned to launch a movement for holding fresh elections.

Rejecting July 25 election results, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has demanded Chief Election Commissioner to step down as he has failed to conduct free and fair elections. All Parties Conference (APC) convened jointly by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) has rejected July 25 general election results.

Briefing the media about the conference, Mauala Fazl-ul-Rehman said. “We will launch a movement for re-elections as all parties have developed consensus over it,” Maulana Fazl went on to say that they will organize protest demonstrations across the country till elections were held again. The PMLN President Shahbaz Sharif, Jamaat-e-Islami Chief Siraj ul Haq and others were also present.

Finally, after all it was not a kind of French Revolution that a colossal change of opinion took place by giving ascendency to one party and its boss over all other contenders whose roots were much deeper in the masses than a later-day born party with a limited appeal basically confined to KPK province.

In the first instance the opposition parties may concede to the victory of PTI. Alternately they may take recourse to legal option by approaching the courts. But to launch a countryside agitation is going to be ruinous for the political system to continue and disruption of the normal life in Pakistan. That situation of disturbance and countrywide upheaval may invite the army to step in and may impose martial law.     

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