Clean up before the next elections.


Byline: Dr Farid A Malik

The combined opposition parties are demanding fresh elections. Unless the ground rules are worked out it may prove to be an exercise in futility. In the checkered political history of Pakistan only free, fair and indisputable electoral exercise speaks for itself. By most counts the ballot in 1970 was free and fair but it resulted in the break-up of Quaids Republic. Being underage I could not vote then but after that I have stood in lines to exercise my right ten times with 2018 being the eleventh.

Elections in 2018 were very peaceful. The infamous Police force was kept outside, personnel of the Armed Forces supervised the electoral process. The entire activity was very orderly unlike the elections between 1977 to 2013. Some problems in transmission of results were encountered, earlier there were reports of pre-poll harassment by agencies but the ballot was conducted very orderly. Imran Khan won the seat from Lahore with a narrow margin which was then won back by Khawaja Saad Rafiq in the by-elections. I only voted the first time.

Some people argue that a free and fair ballot is a self cleansing process and should continue uninterrupted. Perhaps, it was true till 1977 but after that it has been downhill. The 1985 partyless elections were the hardest blow against democracy. Pakistan has not recovered from this setback. Boycott of the electoral process by the real democratic party of the country proved to be disastrous. It left the field open for political bounty hunters to enter the assemblies and hijack the entire process for People's Participation and power.

Another electoral exercise without major cleansing will be another debacle. Unfortunately the pseudo political players of the country continue to destroy not build democracy. The current tiff between the government and opposition is on corruption not politics. The Prime Minister stands firm against the corrupt but some of those who surround him also fall in this category. It seems the only defence left for the accused opposition members of the parliament is to point fingers on the controversial figures sitting on the treasury benches. It seems coming out clean is on no one's agenda despite tall claims of sainthood. Saints usually have nothing to hide and are always willing to raise the curtain for the public to see their assets. Mystery is always mischief. The mysterious increase of assets of most parliamentarians calls for major efforts to uncover the secrets...

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