Violence and democracy can never co-exist. Article by Senator Taj Haider Secretary General PPP Sindh

 

The present crisis of the Right wing extremist politics of Pakistan is the direct result of manipulations made for rigging the last general elections. Those shouting themselves hoarse over rigging in the last elections were themselves the biggest beneficiaries of such rigging. They choose to ignore the fact that 3 political parties that were against religious extremism were not allowed to run an election campaign. The son of Prime Minister Gillani was kidnapped on gunpoint for holding a small election corner meeting in Multan (he has not been recovered till date) while PML(N) and PTI were campaigning in the legnth and breadth of the country unhindered and unharmed.

What difference militancy made in the results of the Elections can be gauged from the results of NA-1 Peshawar where the PTI chief Mr. Imran Khan had won by a lead of 70,000 votes in the general elections and had vacated the seat later. In the bye-elections held just 2 months later when the militants allowed ANP to campaign not only the PTI lead of 70,000 votes vanished but the seat itself was lot by the PTI.

The holy agitators also choose to ignore the findings of the Election Tribunal on the rigging committed by the PTI on PS-93, Karachi West. The Tribunal in its judgment on 7th August found that the sitting MPA, who is PTIs General Secretary Sindh Province, had changed the results of 7 polling stations, increased votes in his favour by more than 5,000 and reduced the votes of the JI candidate who was declared the ultimate winner by the Tribunal. The same Secretary General PTI took hundreds of PTI workers to Islamabad Dharnas and stood next to his Chief demanding “resignations and fair elections”. Stones are being pelted all around on others by PTI without realizing that they are themselves sitting in a glass house.

These were not elections. This was an arrangement worked out by the agencies (whom the PPP President Mr. Makhdoom Amin Faheem rightly congratulated on PML(N) election victory) and supported on ground by militants. This was an artificial arrangement, whose time was long past. This arrangement had to crumble down. The time for worn out ideas and their imposition at gun point is long gone.

Pakistan People Party had opted for continuation of the spirit of the Charter of Democracy. The spirit is that of reconciliation. It excludes dictation of the establishment. We had made PML(N) a part of the Federal Government. We were ourselves part of the Punjab Government. Unfortunately Mian Nawaz Sharif Sahib thought it better to part way and started using Judiciary and State Institutions to destabilize our elected government. While we were acting boldly to oust militants from Swat and other areas, these elements were provided safe heavens in Southern Punjab. Their camps were not dismantled and these very extremists provided militant support in Southern Punjab to deliver a solid PPP area to PML (N).

In the interest of continuation of democracy PPP decided not to protest on the streets. The highly abusive language used against us and our leadership by PML(N) hurt us. But at the present crucial juncture the language being used against PML(N) leadership is hurting us more. Continuation of the democratic system remains as ever our top priority. Democracy presupposes a civilized political culture, which is being ruined by these elements who have no stakes in the democratic system.

Can the commission appointed by the Honourable Supreme Court investigate all of more than 1300 seats of the Provincial and National Assemblies? The record has been so badly messed up as a result of arrangements made before the polls that it has become impossible to correctly identify the bogus votes. The fact that 3 parties who were against the extremist militants were not allowed to campaign while PTI and PML(N) enjoyed their full support is reason enough to call the election unfair. PPP has been saying that from the first day.

The most important question is, where do we go from here? PPP, the biggest sufferer of rigging believes in “politics of reconciliation”. Major successes for Democracy, the Charter of Democracy, the NFC Award, the 18th Amendment, the completion of the term of previous assemblies and the governments were all results of “politics of reconciliation”. “Politics of Confrontation” which does make headlines in the Media has always resulted in setbacks and loosing of all the democratic gains and ultimately in dictatorship. We have seen enough of it in 1999. We do not understand why the PTI and PML(N) who were the biggest beneficiaries of poll rigging are pushing the country to the same abyss through confrontation. Everyone stands to loose. There are no winners in this confrontation or in any confrontation for that matter.

Emotionalism has to make way for Rationalism. Violence and democracy can never co-exist. We shall have to jointly find way to exclude militancy and the role of agencies from the electoral system. The time for such a system has arrived. Attempts to postpone it will always result in one crisis after the other.

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