Thursday, September 6, 2018

Rigging Allegations Must Be Investigated

September 2, 2018

By Saeed Qureshi

After winning 2018 general elections, Imran Khan the newly elected prime minister of Pakistan, in his inaugural address, delivered on August 19 made a solemn and firm pledge to hold investigation to probe the widely reported charges of corruption and votes rigging.

The opposition parties in Pakistan are raising hue and cry to demand the investigation to determine if the 2018 general elections were rigged or not. Hopefully, the PTI government and prime minister Imran Khan would stand by their commitment and probe as to whether the opposition’s allegations were valid or not.

Now vote rigging allegation is certainly a very serious issue by itself. If proven it could put the legitimacy of the 2018 elections in doubt. PTI, the prime minister’ party bagged 149 National Assembly seats leaving far behind the runner up party PMNL which could grab only 82 seats out of a total of 272 National Assembly seats. It should be remembered that the same kind of rigging allegations were leveled against the PMLN which won the three elections prior to the 2018 elections.

It should be reckoned as to which authority would be entitled and asked to conduct the inquiry and investigation into the rigging rigmarole which is not an easy task. The record at the elections centers could have been manipulated, wasted away or hidden by the interested party which in this case is the PTI. However, primarily it should be the Election Commission of Pakistan on which this onerous responsibility devolves.

If the case goes in case of the refusal of the government and the Election Commission to conduct inquiry or recount the votes, then possibly and credibly this thorny issue would be placed before the judiciary which could be no less than the Supreme Court of Pakistan. If Supreme Court orders an enquiry that might take quite a long period of time to finalize the outcome and its findings. This task of election rigging is not the first of its own kind in Pakistan. But keeping in view the rigid confrontation and strong discord between the winning party and the runner up PMLN together with other fringe political contenders such as Awami National Party, Awami Workers Party (AWP), Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (F)., the situation may not subside till a verdict in clear and transparent terms is, handed out by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Even another main political party “Pakistan People’s Party” may jump into fray.

There is also a possibility which ought to be kept in view that if the verdict of the Supreme Court is not accepted by the loser parties and they persist in unrelenting agitations, a serious law and order situation could emerge. Thus, there could be a leeway for the armed forces to step in to rein in the cataclysm and worsening law and order situation.

If that is the probable scenario then the country would be, democratically, back to square one. That development would be as the reminiscent of taking over power by General Zia against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in July 1978(as Chief Martial Administer) and later from prime minister Muhammad Khan Junejo as the president from September 1978 to August 1988. Again, General Pervez Musharraf took over power from the PMNL government headed by Nawaz Sharif in October 1999 and ruled Pakistan first as the Chief Executive (October 1999-November 2002) and then as the 10th president until August 2008.

If the inquiry is instituted by the sitting government in Pakistan and the PTI government comes out with flying colors then it would be functioning on firm footing for five years. The political opposition would have no excuse to create fuss against the government headed by prime minister Imran Khan. With Imran Khan, the people of Pakistan have nursed enormous hopes to rebuild a strong and prosperous Pakistan. After clearing of the rigging stigma, PTI and prime minister Imran Khan could, without hindrance, implement the PTI’s voluminous agenda comprising of 27 ground breaking programs one of which is to fashion Pakistan on the format of the State of Medina. The State of Medina was established by Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) the last prophet of God after his migration from Mecca to Medina in 622 A. D.  By all reckoning, the State of Pakistan would be a combination of the contours and foundations of a modern state as well as the “State of Medina”.

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