By Tirthankar Mitra
The results of Pakistan election held on Thursday make it clear that it has been a vote for the underdog . It is also a vote against the Establishment meaning powerful Pakistan army.. Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) headed by an imprisoned Imran Khan has emerged on top. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, army backing notwithstanding, has failed to reach the top tier of victory stand.
PTI is claiming 180 seats among the 265 constituencies in the country, as telecast in Al Jazeera at the time of writing. But it is likely to be a legal battle as one of its supporters have already moved Lahore High Court To form a government, a party must have 133 seats out of 265 in the National Assembly. In all, 169 seats are required out of a total of 336 seats which include reserve slots for women and minorities.
Fact remains that no party has attained an absolute majority. One wonders whether to ask PML-N leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif what was his provocation to deliver a victory speech. Perhaps Sharif feels that his overtures to Asif Ali Zardari and his son Bilawal Bhutto of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) will help his party attain majority. But then seeing is believing.
It is time for the Election Commission of Pakistan to rise to the occasion. After all, millions have made their voices heard through the ballot box demonstrating their faith in the electoral system of Pakistan.
It has been the army brass who like on earlier occasions played a dubious role The widespread people’s participation in the elections is a loud and clear sign that voters disapprove of such meddling in their democratic rights.
State administrative apparatus being involved with manipulation of elections in Pakistan is no unique event. The 2018 elections saw such events though the interference this time was unprecedented.
PTI chief Imran Khan and several leaders of its front ranks are marking time behind the bars. Many PTI activists were rounded up, its symbol, the cricket bat was not allowed. Even many a independent candidate supported by PTI were not allowed to campaign. But thanks to the people’s support these intimidatory tactics backfired as the victory of a large number of PTI-supported independents indicate. What was tried to be portrayed as a political outcast emerged with the people’s approval. It seemed the imprisonments and similar measures only steeled the voters resolve.
As for the denial of the PTI symbol of the cricket bat reminiscent of Khan’s flamboyant sporting career, the voters have supported it in its absence. The invisible cricket bat struck the ball with its middle past the boundary fences openly exemplified the people’s ire towards the administration read the men in uniform.
The people’s rights have been interloped. It only raised the voters determination to assert democratic rights Heads were bloodied. But they remained unbowed. This is time for Election Commission of Pakistan to to stop any repetition of pre poll scenario. It has to ensure all winning nominees can join the party of their choice. Any shadow of threats and allurements has to be banished. Horse trading, an expression familiar to Indian voters must be prevented.
The administration read the army would indeed be painting itself in darker hues if it is involved in any further attempt to upset the popular will. There are many believers in the Army’s ranks subscribing to the belief that power flows from the barrel of a gun. In a democracy, power flows from the verdict of the voters at the ballot box. Any attempt to sabotage such verdict will precipitate a crisis Pakistan can ill afford. (IPA Service)