Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Legal Gamble of PTI didn’t Payoff

July 24, 2015
By Saeed Qureshi
The petition of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf(PTI) to the Judicial Commission to determine if the 2013 general elections in Pakistan were rigged, ought to be viewed not an aimless or self-damaging fluke but an earnest initiative for the attainment of a right objective. The verdict of the Judicial Commission constituted at the persistent behest of PTI may be utterly repugnant to the party’s top brass yet there is no need or justification for them to criticize this legal decision. 

The lower rank party echelons of PTI were seen bursting out in various manners on TV channels over the judicial commission’s decision and alleging its presumed complicity with the ruling party. Yet the party chairman has done well to accept this decision which he, at the outset, had categorically committed to abide by.

Admittedly, in the backdrop of a culture of manipulation and rigging of elections, the demand of PTI sets a new justified tradition for sifting the corn from the chaff. It augurs well for the future elections and indeed kicks off a healthy and fruitful tradition and paves way for holding of fair and free elections which could be again challenged if they would be deemed as tainted or controversial.

The formation of the judicial commission to determine the fairness of elections is a monumental milestone and serves as a check on the political parties and individual contestants to refrain from using underhand tactics to win their respective seats either for the provincial or federal assemblies.

The ruling PMLN that was actually in the eye of the storm and mainly on the hit list of the PTI, has been vindicated and therefore can complete their constitutional term ending in 2018. It could be taken for granted that had the verdict been in consonance with the petition of the PTI, the ruling party was left with no option but to resign. 

That would have inflicted a devastating blow to the future image and standing of PMLN and only time would have determined when its stalwarts could stage a comeback in the power corridors of Pakistan.  

Nevertheless, a report favorable to the claim of PTI could have opened a Pandora box of further legal intricacies including a review appeal by the government. The country would have lurched back into a spell of new elections thus stalling or hampering the nation building development projects started by the PMLN government and are presently underway.  Apart from holding mid-term elections, the interim set up could not be in a position to take vital decisions with regard to socio economic domains, foreign affairs and so on.

How far the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a giant plan could have been hampered is only a matter of conjecture. The ongoing full blown and highly successful army’s anti-crime onslaught could be postponed or slowed down.  In such muddled up situation there could have been a sneaking chance for the army to take over the reins of the government.

Yet intentions matter if translated into concrete realities on the ground. It would be naive to believe or expect that in the fresh elections only sinless angels in the grab of humans would have been elected. It would be fallacious to believe that PTI consists of the people with blot-less profiles or all of them are not prone to making mistakes.

We have seen the PTI’s government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province lurching from one debacle to another despite their best intentions. The sacking of some of the ministers in PTI’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on corruption and graft charges reflects the internal lacunae bedeviling this new party otherwise commanding sizable popular support particularly among the disgruntled yet zealous youth of Pakistan.

In the aftermath of this verdict, a better and more reasonable course for the political parties in Pakistan would be to prepare and wait for the next elections due in 2018. They should start forthwith, canvassing and presenting their goals and programs to the people of Pakistan.

They should galvanize the people of Pakistan and the electorate by dishing out their future plans and manifestos. There is plenty of time for the political parties to play a constructive role in the national as well as provincial assemblies. 

They should focus on the passage of laws and decisions that can lead to good governance, inject oversight and accountability into a mauled system, ameliorate abysmal living conditions, bring about improvement in the working of the national institutions like judiciary, police local bodies, election commission of Pakistan and rooting out abominable feudalism et el. 
   
The Commission in its 237 pages inquiry report admonished the Election Commission of Pakistan for the poor planning of the 2013 elections and pointed out nine major lapses and flaws committed by the ECP. Besides the chief justice of the supreme court of Pakistan Nasirul Mulk who headed the judicial commission, the other two members were Justice Amir Hani Muslim and Justice Ejaz Afzal.

The ECP should earnestly heed this observation of the Judicial Commission and rectify those lapses in order to make the 2018 elections foolproof, transparent and free from administrative glitches.  That would be a redeeming outcome of this entire distasteful hullabaloo.  Let us also watch how the elected representatives behave when the government presents the report before the parliament.