Democracy, Terrorism and Uncertainty
Although elections 2013 were free and fair, yet isolated incidents of rigging which are very common in South Asia are creating uncertainty in Pakistan where terrorists continue their subversive activities to further destabilise the country by blocking the way of democracy. Even, observers of the EU remarked that only 10 percent rigging occurred, while on the whole, elections were fair. However, democracy, terrorism and uncertainty are inter-related, which need appropriate analysis.
Taking serious notice of the rigging reports, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) which agreed for pre-elections in some constituencies and polling stations said on May 17, this year that the presiding officers would be held accountable for every single ballot paper, emphasising that the system put in place would not spare any faker.
While taking cognisance of the multi-faceted crises including terrorism, Chief of Awami National Party (ANP) Asfandyar Wali Khan accepted defeat in elections and congratulated President of PML-N, Mian Nawaz Sharif whose party got majority of seats in the National Assembly and Punjab Assembly. He elaborated that pre-poll rigging was recorded in shape of terror-attacks on ANP and from March 30, 2013 to May 11, 31; these attacks killed 61 leaders and workers of his party. But, for the national interest of the country, he even welcomed the prospective government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Earlier, Pakistan Peoples Party also congratulated, Nawaz Sharif and recognised his majority-mandate.
Regrettable, on May 15, Chief of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Altaf Hussain in a telephonic address to activists—staging a sit-in before the Election Office in Karach asked the establishment to separate Karachi from the rest of Pakistan, if they did not like the public mandate of his party. Main aim of such derogatory remarks is to incite the general masses of Karachi against the federation of Pakistan. On May 14, PTI staged a sit-in against rigging of elections in NA-250, and Altaf Hussain stated that he would unleash his party workers on the protesters who would cut them to pieces. Meanwhile, on May 17, MQM rejected the decision of ECP and boycotted re-elections in 43 polling stations of the constituency. Separately, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and some other religious parties also held a protest and boycotted the re-elections, demanding re-polls in Karachi and Hyderabad. Now PTI candidates won the seats from NA-250, PS-112 and PS-113 in Karachi. But, both MQM and PTI are observing strike on May 20 against each other, which could further deteriorate the situation of Karachi.
Besides, Sindh Vice President Zarah Shahid Hussain of PTI was murdered on May 18 in Karachi and Imran Khan directly held Altaf Hussain responsible for his assassination, saying that the MQM chief had openly threatened the PTI leaders and workers.
However, at this critical juncture, Pakistan is facing worst crises like unemployment, poverty, corruption, ill-planned policies and energy problem in wake of perennial wave of terror-assaults—internal and external threats. In this respect, the militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its affiliated groups who had accelerated their terror-activities to sabotage the elections failed in their nefarious designs as they did not want to see democracy to be flourished in the country. Despite their subversive activities and threats, a majority of people cast their vote, and turn over was more than 60 percent.
While accepting responsibility, TTP had not only felt pride for latest terror-activities which killed several innocent people and candidates, but had also threatened to continue such attacks in future. For the aims, in the recent past, the TTP militants had distributed pamphlets in Buner, Peshawar and different areas of Karachi, warning citizens against attending political rallies and casting their votes at polling stations. While rejecting the elections, TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan said that democracy was un-Islamic and western system of government.
It is mentionable that addressing the Constituent Assembly on August, 11 1947, Quaid-i-Azam who wanted Pakistan as a democratic state, said that he did not want Pakistan to be a theocratic state. He wanted Pakistan to be a liberal, secular and progressive state.
Notably, even the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in his sermon at Hajjatul Wida issued directions for protection of life, property and dignity of the whole mankind. The sermon became a charter of democracy which was included in the constitutions of the western elected governments in one way or the other.
Pakistan has to move along with the demands of modern time. Therefore, periodic reinterpretation of Islamic teachings is essential. Such movement is called Ijtihad, which could provide new perceptions to Islam in accordance with the changed world vision.
Besides, Islamic laws can be implemented through a system of governance, hence, elections are essential for placing the elected representatives to make rules and govern in any part of the country. Laws of Sharia (Islamic Jurisprudence) can best be put to practice through democratic system which does not make us un-Islamic or anti-Sharia. In fact, it is a representative system which is based upon equality of all the people, ensuring enforcement of rule of law through an independent justice. Nothing is forcibly imposed on the political will of the people who fully enjoy the freedom of thought and action.
In this regard, by condemning the TTP insurgents’ inhuman activities, more than 60 Islamic scholars recently clarified in their joint fatwa (edict) that “killing of innocent people, target killings and suicide bombings including sectarianism are nor Jihad”, and “are against the spirit of Islam…the terrorists’ self-adopted interpretation of Islam was nothing but ignorance and digression from the actual teachings of the religion.” Unlike the Taliban, they elaborated; “Islam does not forbid women’s education.” No doubt, these Taliban and their linked groups are defaming Islam and are weakening Pakistan.
While, based in Afghanistan, secret agencies like American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad which have already been arranging acts of sabotage on the places of worships, security forces, sectarian violence etc. through TTP, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and other similar militant groups have left no stone unturned to thwart the democratic system and to create chaotic situation in Pakistan so as to complete the secret strategic designs of their countries. Especially, RAW has hired the services of Indian Muslims who have well-penetrated in the BLA, TTP, Jundollah, (God’s soldiers) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi which have been conducting subversive acts in various regions of the country.
In this context, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership has repeatedly disclosed that militants along with huge cache of arms are being sent to Pakistan from Afghanistan.
It is notable that a terror-attempt was also made on Ansar Burney, Pakistan’s former Federal Minister for Human Rights, an eminent human rights activist, founder and chairman of the Ansar Burney Trust International. For this purpose, on January 18, 2013, two unknown persons came on their motor bike and tried to attach a time bomb device under Ansar Burney’s car parked outside his office in Karachi. It shows that those foreign-backed internal elements who are not well-wishers of human rights in Pakistan are involved in such criminal acts. Their ulterior motives seem to cause terror and panic in the country, and thus to tarnish Pakistan’s image abroad.
Now, question does not arise that Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is going to be the prime minister of Pakistan, as the real question is that both the newly elected governments at centre and provinces must cooperate to pull the country out of multiple crises. While survival of country is at stake, PTI, JI, MQM and other political and religious parties should display a strong sense of unity with PML-N.
Particularly, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani met Nawaz Sharif on May 18 and assured Army’s cooperation in resolving various issues, especially terrorism. According to media reports Nawaz and Gen. Kayani talked about democracy’s success in the country, as the first time, a government completed its five-year tenure.
The meeting ended up with a positive note, as they hoped that the democratic process should continue in the same manner which would help strengthening the institutions in the country. Earlier, Gen. Kayani had also talked to Imran Khan through telephone, congratulating him and his party over the victory in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
As regards the recent elections, participation of the people in elections from all segments of life and politicians has proved that a handful of terrorist elements must not be allowed to dictate their agenda and to impose their self-perceived ideology on the majority of Pakistanis through their undemocratic and un-Islamic practices.
The right hour has come that by castigating the conspiracy against Pakistan and democracy, our media, politicians and leaders of religious parties including security forces must fully cooperate with each other to cope with terrorists who intended to accomplish their self-motivated designs at the cost of Pakistan.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations