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Election Commission of Pakistan

150 HRS TO A NEW DAWN?

Though the usual feudal modus operandi for obtaining votes, particularly in the rural areas, is through outright coercion and/or intimidation, it also depends upon who counts the vote, and even more importantly, who gets to collate it. With rigging/tampering with ballot and ballot boxes fairly widespread in 2008 and 2013, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) must be given credit for taking effective steps for minimizing electoral fraud of various kinds.

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ELECTIONS 2018

Squabbling and endlessly bickering on issues not of any public importance, our parliamentarians may clamour passionately for early elections, yet not enough senators showed up for weeks to enable a quorum to pass an amendment to the Constitution clearing the way for delimitation of National Assembly (NA) constituencies based on the results of the recent national census till Dec 19. This removed a major hurdle for holding elections on schedule. For this very sensitive task; the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had set a Nov 10 deadline estimating at least five months being needed to use the provisional census data to carry out fresh delimitation of constituencies.

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BLINDLY FOLLOWING THE CONSTITUTION

Some petitions contesting the veracity of the 2013 elections were dismissed recently in the courts for various deficiencies. Interestingly, just before the 2013 elections, the Supreme Court ordered defective electoral rolls to be corrected. Because of time constraints, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was instructed to go ahead with the elections and the verification of voters was mandated for Karachi only. On March 19, 2014, the Supreme Court ordered that long overdue local bodies elections be completed by August 18, 2014. Only Balochistan complied. Almost three months after that timeline has expired, feudal pressure has kept democracy from functioning at the grass roots level.

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POLITICAL PARTIES AND ANARCHY

Historically progressive, Pakistan’s bourgeoisie has compromised with imperialism and feudal/tribal elements, with almost all political parties in Pakistan run like feudal estates. The basic ingredient of any functioning democracy, the present form of elections has reduced Parliament to a mere ritual-like exercise with those elected considering power a free licence to loot, plunder and oppress the people for the next five years. To quote my article of May 5, 1995 titled ‘Direct Vote and Democracy’, “other than bad advice our political leadership depends upon “special interest groups” (and individuals) for survival once they are in office rather than on the electorate that voted them into office.”

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Electoral Surprise

Other than the “electables” of the feudal kind, every Province has its own ethnic, racial and sectarian electoral dynamics, our extremely defective “first past the post” system force-multiplies the problems of governance. Out of the nearly 35 million cast in 2008 (out of nearly 85 million) PPP got a little more than 10 million i.e. […]

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Politics of Expediency

The deliberate hash of local govt to reflect the diverse demographics of the ruling Coalition, PPP in the rural areas and MQM in the urban, Sindh Peoples Local Government Ordinance (SPLGO) was essentially a hybrid measure. The vertical integration of local govts with the Provincial level was never resolved. Condemned outright as a sell-out of ethnic Sindhi interests by Sindhi nationalists, there was reaction even among diehard PPP loyalists in interior Sindh.

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