Time to work out a system for free, fair and transparent elections

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 03:11 PM, 5 Dec, 2020
Time to work out a system for free, fair and transparent elections

The top leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement are scheduled to meet on Tuesday (December 8) to review the political situation and work out a more effective strategy to bring down the PTI government, which has completed almost half of its constitutional term. 

Arrangements for the December 13 public meeting at the Minar-i-Pakistan will also come under discussion. 

The alliance’s meeting and the subsequent rally will make next week the most important.    

PML-N leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi says the rally will be a referendum against the government and will be focus of attention of people from all over the country. 

At the Tuesday meeting three options will come under discussion: Continuing rallies, staging a decisive long march on Islamabad and tending collective resignations from assemblies. 

So far, the government remains undeterred, possibly because the establishment is lending it full support. Perhaps the PML-N top leadership’s targeted attacks on the military and ISI chiefs have left no other option for them but to put their full weight behind the PTI government. 

Growing anger of the opposition leaders and their body language apart, history bears testament that whatever the apparent situation the fate of any sitting government is always decided by the establishment

This being so, the PDM leaders may justifiably be asked if they are powerful enough to defeat the establishment and force them to hold fresh elections? Will an irritated establishment tolerate the return of the PDM to power?  

What will happen if the PDM exhausts all options and still there is no change on the political scene? 

How long can the 11-party alliance sustain its public meetings? 

Can the country afford fresh elections at a time when situation on the eastern border is not normal because of belligerent India?  

What change the new elections – if at all held – will lead to?  

What if the results are not in line with the opposition’s expectations? 

Realistically, the interests of the major PDM components are not the same. 

The PML-N and Maulana Fazlur Rehman want the change of government within no time. Having enjoyed power for so long, they are impatient to return to power as early as possible. 

They will have no hesitation in tendering resignations from assemblies in the hope of a brighter political future. 

But the interests of the PPP are different. This party is in power in Sindh even as a result of the 2018 elections which are being labelled as manipulated, and for the sake of unity with other PDM parties it will have to quit the government – which is certainly not an easy decision to take. Before thinking of saying goodbye to the government it will have to seriously calculate if it will be able to get proportionate political dividends. 

Will it like to take such a risky step whose ultimate result is unpredictable? This is a million dollar question whose answer lies only with former president Asif Ali Zardari. Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and other party leaders will do only what they are told to  

Whatever the PDM’s collective or component parties’ individual decisions in the prevailing situation, the national interest demands that before using their energies to bring down the government, the coalition leaders should first discuss the problems plaguing the political system, especially the electoral system. 

They must spare time why the outcome of every election is not acceptable to the losing parties? They should come up with ideas so that the results of next elections – whenever they are held are not challenged by anyone.–  

All political parties – in power or in opposition – should come up with a system that enables the party (parties) getting majority votes to complete term. 

Opposition parties, in particular, should also discuss in detail the suitability of the electronic voting system, an idea recently floated by Prime Minister Imran Khan. 

Some people are of the view that the electronic voting system has not worked even in countries like the United States and India and will not suit Pakistan.  

Unfortunately, the political parties have not discussed its merits and demerits. 

This is the time for them to set right their priorities. They should hammer out a system for free, fair and transparent elections.