External Meddling in Internal Affairs
As part of neo-imperialism, external meddling in the affairs of small countries by the powerful countries is owing to the unequal world order. When less developed countries reject the undue demands of the big powers, in the unipolar system, the US-led major states which have strong hold on the UN Security Council, and its financial institutes like IMF and World Bank use various tactics like pressure, coercion, conditionalities and sanctions to impose their decisions on the weak countries which have been facing grave political and economic crises.
Like other small countries, Pakistan has multiple crises of serious nature, but it has rejected foreign intervention on a number of occasions. In this regard, vacation of the Shamsi Airbase, closure of NATO ground supply routes through its territory to Afghanistan for seven months, and refusal of military operation in North Waziristan might be cited as an example. Besides, by ignoring US growing pressure and defying the threat of sanctions, on March 11, this year, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari inaugurated the gas pipeline project with Iran.
Although Pakistan has been blocking the interference of America and some western countries, yet they are using some other techniques of intervention—especially in the elections 2013. Because some mainstream political parties have opened the door of external meddling in the internal affairs of the country. In this respect, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) made a unique misadventure by submitting a memorandum to the United Nations (UN) against delimitation of constituencies in Karachi by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). For the purpose, MQM-US Central Organizer Junaid Fahmi filed a memorandum to UN, casting grave concerns over redrawing of constituencies, terming it gerrymandering, which was considered by the party against the spirit of and principle of one-man-one vote. The memorandum also said that the ECP move was unlawful and unconstitutional, based on a conspiracy to divide MQM vote bank.
In this memorandum, MQM declared that the redrawing of constituencies was an attempt to negate the mandate of MQM and to push the third largest political party of Pakistan against the wall—these methods were being used to weaken MQM.
The fact of the matter is that in the Karachi unrest case, the larger bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan has issued orders to the ECP to ensure free and fair elections. The ECP was given the authority to carry out delimitation procedures wherever it found that creating new constituencies were necessary. However the organisation will be required to prove that those areas where delimitation will be carried out are violence-prone which require extra attention.
The apex court had given such orders earlier as well, which were widely appreciated by the people, but the ECP failed to attain any objectives through thoughtful implementation of the verdicts. This time, the court said that the remarks given were not mere observations but orders which needed to be implemented. ECP was also given the power to call in army if required.
Since November 26, last year when the Supreme Court called for electoral constituencies to be redrawn in Karachi in a manner that they comprise “mixed population” to avoid political polarization, MQM leaders started illegal moves, while giving illogical statements. In this connection, MQM Chief Altaf Hussain, speaking to tens of thousands of people at a congregation stated on November 30 that the judges should apologise for insulting people of the city.
However, when the Supreme Court rejected the MQM petition against the delimitation of electoral voting zones in Karachi, its leaders became more furious against the judges and ECP’s genuine move by launching an illogical campaign and blame game.
In the recent past, MQM leader Farooq Sattar stated that Election Commission’s notification for redrawing electoral constituencies was equivalent to pre-poll rigging and the people of Karachi were being punished.
Besides, by setting aside the orders of the apex court, on the instruction of its leaders, on March 25, this year, MQM workers gathered outside the office of election commission in Karachi and chanted slogans against ECP.
Nevertheless, MQM was part of the coalition government and enjoyed all the perks and privileges—powers of the governance for five years. It has consented in the process of appointing the ECP and should have shown some decency to stand by its words.
Now, mistrust on the ECP shows MQM’s contradiction, and approaching UN for the purpose is totally unfair decision, and is unacceptable way. Urging international community like UN to use its influence for holding fair and free elections and putting pressure on ECP to stop pursuing the process of delimitation of constituencies in Karachi is obviously an undesirable misadventure by MQM as a political party of Pakistan.
In this context, the memorandum submitted at UN will tarnish the image of Pakistan as a sovereign state. It also creates doubt about the ECP integrity and the government of Pakistan. It certainly speaks volumes about MQM’s mind-set to promote their party line even at the cost of state of Pakistan.
Nonetheless, involving international community in purely internal affairs of Pakistan is immature step by MQM and needs to be viewed seriously by all segments of the society such as media, civil society, political parties and general masses.
Undoubtedly, Pakistan is passing through the most testing and disturbing times of its history. The foreign elements are leaving no stone unturned in exploiting any opportunity, and internal division to accomplish their nefarious designs against the country. Unfortunately, Pakistani political leadership and their concerned parties seem to have developed very narrow and skewed mind-set to promote their party interests and personal advancements by forgetting the overall interests of Pakistan which is a sovereign state capable of functioning vigorously and operating assertively.
At this critical hour, while all the political parties believe in fair and free elections, having trust on the ECP, MQM’s submission of the memorandum at UN tantamounts to inviting foreign meddling in the internal affairs 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