Election-2013: Challenges & opportunities
As per the schedule, the Gen eral Elections-2013 will be held on May 11, 2013. A lot of international observers are reaching Pakistan to monitor the election process in Pakistan. According to Mr Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary, the spokesman of Foreign Office, “A group of European officials have arrived in Pakistan to observe the May 11 parliamentary elections.” European Union has confirmed that a total of 110 members’ team will visit Pakistan including a core team of 11 experts. Besides, there are expectations of many more observers from all over the world to oversee the election process in Pakistan.
The elections 2013 have some significant challenges to face. The first and foremost being, to conduct a fair and neutral elections. Apparently, the Chief Election Commissioner is trying to make these elections as fair as possible. The criterion laid down by the Election Commission of Pakistan in this regards apparently seems a fair play. The main worries about the fair conduct of the elections are; the feudal mindset in the country, which may bar the people in most parts of the country to cast vote freely in accordance with their will.
Then the environment at polling stations, which is generally dominated by a certain political group or tribe and clan dominated. Secondly, eligibility of the candidates to contest election. In this regards, a detail scrutiny of the nomination paper has been done and many candidates, who have an indecent track record or fake degrees were barred from taking part in the elections.
However, this has not been done across the board. Some of the prominent politicians, whose cases are still pending in the courts or in the NAB, have been cleared to participate in the elections. Statement of the Chairman NAB, Admiral Bukhari that, let them take part in the election, we will see their eligibility or otherwise later, shows either helplessness or some accommodation for a few. This aspect need serious consideration.
Thirdly, the element of foreign involvement; during or prior to the conduct of elections and manipulation of a few at the hands of these powerful foreigners. While the preparation for the elections are at their full swing, many foreign diplomats and officials are busy in meeting with the important politicians of Pakistan. These politicians are from all the major political parties. Just to name a few, US officials of political section, US consulate Lahore including Mr. Michael Gray Political Consular, Zahir Shah Durrani Political Advisor and Consulate General (CG) herself have increased interaction with political figures of different political parties. Mostly meetings are held at Consul General’s residence, politician’s residences and even at different restaurants of the city.
Frequent meetings between Ms Nina Maria (CG) and different politicians have taken place while Michael Gray, Political Consular Us Consulate and Mr. Rick Political Consular US Embassy, Islamabad have been discussing political situation in the country with different political figures. On 23rd February 2013, a delegation from British High Commission Islamabad, visited Lahore and held meetings with Syed Ihsan Ullah Waqas, Liaqat Baloch and Farid paracha, (JI), Mian Manzoor Ahmed Watto (PPP), Ms Asma Jahangir (Former President SCBA/President HRCP), Mian Imran Maqsood (PML-Q), Najam Sethi (Journalist), Ishaq Dar (PML-N) and Senator Jhangir Badar (PPP).
A high profile delegation headed by US Ambassador Richard Olson and Robert Menandez Chairman Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs visited Lahore twice and met politicians including Mian Nawaz Sharif. Former Punjab Chief Minister has been otherwise offering exceptional protocol to US Consulate Lahore. Foreign Services Nationals (FSN) of US Consulate have been frequently interacting with the Lahore based politicians and their bureaucracy.
Indeed, the foreign interference has been the most significant aspect of Pakistani politics. This trend has badly damaged the political system. In the past, there have been some political elites, who used to get consent of the external powers, after giving them assurances that, in the event of their coming to power, they are going to protect the interest of their overseas masters. This aspect created a competition among various political parties for the foreign sponsorship and backings. This foreign backing keeps them less worried about the real issues of the people of Pakistan and more concern about being favorite of others. In the post election scenario, these politicians have been pleasing their sponsors, rather their voters. The People of Pakistan, thus remain neglected and suffers.
The opportunities connected with Elections-2013 are even wider and larger in scope. A fair play of the election would provide equal opportunities to all for the election of most deserving candidates. An unbiased and fair election would bring a people’s mandated leadership as true representatives to legislate at the national level. They would be bound not to misuse the people’s mandate. Then, the grievances of the people of some parts of the country like Balochistan would also reduce greatly after the fair conduct of the elections without any manipulated results, as some sub-nationalists have been accusing in the past.
Rather projecting the negative aspects of the elections, Pakistani domestic media need to highlights the reformative and most needed aspects of the elections 2013. As a campaign, it should highlight the foreign connections of some the politicians and political parties. The media should also indicate the source of funding of the politicians.
A nationalistic and positive media campaigning for the betterment of the country would enhance the credibility of the media besides improvement in the system of election and positive thinking process of those elected. Media must highlight the track records of the politicians and their contributions towards the people and the country. This wholesome exercise would give lot of awareness to the people and create a sense of ownership among the future representatives of the country for a better Pakistan.(Dr Raja Muhammad Khan)