Avoiding Political Misadventures
By: Osman Khan


Parliamentary elections in Pakistan are just around the corner. The political parties have issued their respective manifestos and started their election campaigns through corner meetings, election rallies and electronic media. Some political parties have however resorted to exploiting divisive issues to win over their voters without realizing the harm they are bringing to their competitors and to the unity and integrity of Pakistan. In doing so, it is not being realized by them that they are revealing their skewed mindsets and narrow approach indicating the extent to which they are prepared to go to win a place in the Parliament. They also do not realize that by doing so they are putting aside supremacy of the national interests over their party and personal interests.

Traditionally, the elections in Pakistan have not been without some kind of violence. This time around, the Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have threatened to attack leaders of a few political parties and their election rallies. They did attack. The attacks against political leaders and other contestants belonging to ANP, MQM and PPP at various places however have had little or no effect on the ongoing political activities in the run up to elections in the country. Heartening development after each targeted attack is that the political leaders who were attacked have vowed to contest the elections, continued their election campaigns and affirmed that such attacks would not deter their resolve. Nevertheless, the spree of attacks indicates that threat of electoral violence is not specific to one area. Similarly, it would be naive to look at this threat as being specifically aimed at a particular party.

Amidst the gathering tense election environment accompanied with episodes of violence, Supreme Courtís verdict to delimit eleven constituencies in Karachi has not been taken in good spirits by a particular political party, MQM. Their leaders opine that the timings of the Courtís orders just after announcement of the election schedule tantamount to direct interference in the affairs of Election Commission and an act against the Constitution of Pakistan. Some analysts also termed the order of delimiting few constituencies in Karachi alone as not being wise and the one that can have unintended consequences: instead of reducing violence in the city it may actually add to it. Meanwhile the US Chapter of MQM approached the United Nations with the request that the world body play a role to ensure free and fair elections in Pakistan. It passed on a memorandum to the international body against the election Commission of Pakistanís decision for delimiting some constituencies in Karachi and termed it a move to steal MQMís mandate.

MQMís act of approaching international forum meant inviting a third party to interfere in affairs of Pakistan. No self respecting agency or a political party of any country with even a slight regard to its sovereignty, would not approach outside agencies and invite them to interfere in its affairs. This is exactly what MQM did. Approaching a foreign agency and asking to interfere in the election process tantamount to an unpardonable crime. Its decision to approach UN revealed its inability to pursue the rightful path and reflected putting trust on outsiders rather their own system that, it considered would prevent its progression towards winning forthcoming polls in Sind. Approaching the foreign agency for meddling in the internal affairs of Pakistan has put in question the Partyís stance on the sovereignty of Pakistan. The MQM move thus can be considered a futile move and a misadventure on political scene in Pakistan. Pakistan has had multiple crises earlier also, some of very serious nature, but the State never allowed outside forces to interfere in its internal affairs. MQM should have taken a leaf out of our national trait before deciding to approach a foreign agency asking for intervention in its internal affairs.

Now when preparations by the state are in final stages to hold fair and free elections, all the stake holders, especially the contesting political parties, must not loose their cool. They have a moral obligation towards their fellow country men not to do anything that shatters their faith in the democratic dispensation for the country or provide any excuse to foreigners to make our country a laughing stock or provide grounds for their unwanted interference in our national affairs. It is a turning point in our history. Our national institutions and political parties must not exploit electronic means and their scrolls to score points over others that could create fissures in the polity and make the role of care taker government and the Election Commission of Pakistan controversial.