Foreign intervention in our elections

Foreign intervention in our electionsSajjad Shaukat

Intervention in the affairs of less developed countries by the most developed states is due to the unjust world order. Unlike the small countries, the US-led major western countries have the decision-making power in the UN Security Council, IMF and World Bank.

Even with or without the assent of the Security Council, these western countries can attack any country or can impose sanctions on less developed nations. Invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq and military action against Libya including economic sanctions against Iran and Syria can be cited as some examples.

Every time, IMF decides to sanction loan to Pakistan after American green signal. In fact, economic dependence on foreign countries always brings political dependence in its wake. However, unequal world order which is based upon discrimination has opened the door of big power’s undue intervention in small countries in the unipolar system.

As regards interference, Henry Kissinger favours politics of bargaining-pressure, threats, coercion, and even violence as essential elements of the American diplomacy.After 9/11, a number of small states and most of the Arab states decided to support the US war against terrorism because they were less powerful as compared to the US. Pakistan which was facing acute economic and financial crises including hostile factor of India also joined the American war against terrorism as a frontline state.

In the recent years, Pak-US war of nerves accelerated due to American coercive diplomacy towards Islamabad. America which granted Islamabad the status of non-NATO ally because of the successes achieved by Pak Army and country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) against the Al Qaeda militants, started a blame game against Pakistan. When the US-led NATO forces felt that they are failing in coping with the stiff resistance of the Taliban, they raised false allegations against Pak Army and ISI of supporting the Afghan Taliban. They including their media not only blamed Pakistan for cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan, but also continuously emphasized to ‘do more’ against the insurgents in tribal areas by ignoring the internal backlash in the country.

On the other side, based in Afghanistan, US has been supporting cross-border infiltration in Pakistan with the assistance of American CIA, Indian intelligence agency, RAW and Israeli secret agency, Mossad in order to ‘denuclearize’ Pakistan.
For this purpose, well- trained and well-equipped militants are being sent to Pakistan, who are regularly conducting subversive acts and sectarian violence in various regions of the country.

However, differences increased between Islamabad and Washington because ISI thwarted the anti-Pakistan activities of the agents of Blackwater and CIA. On the information of this top spy agency, Pakistan’s establishment expelled several American spies. On the other side, US withheld $800 million in military aid to punish its army and ISI.

Since May 2, 2011, without informing Islamabad, US commandos killed Osama Bin Laden in a covert military operation. And in the aftermath of the deliberate air attack on Salala Army outposts on November 26, 2011 in Mohmand Agency killed 26 soldiers, while by setting aside the parliament resolution, public backlash, the trip of DG ISI Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam to America, CIA-operated drone attacks have continued on FATA.

Taking note of US worse intrusion, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership took bold steps such as 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. Besides, by rejecting 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 tactics of intervention-especially in the elections 2013.

Learning lesson from the past, the Supreme Court of Pakistan, armed forces, political and religious parties including media and civil society remained keen to see democracy, flourishing in the country by favouring the elections in the country.
In this regard, all the mainstream parties introduced reforms in the political system through constitutional amendments, related to the constitution of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ELC) to elections. For the purpose, a proper mechanism of appointing men of integrity and competence has been adopted with the consensus. With mutual understanding, ruling and opposition parties in the centre and provinces have appointed impartial caretaker governments.

The aim of all these steps is to ensure free, fair and impartial elections in the country by castigating any attempt of rigging the polls or the electoral process. All the channels of influencing elections results have been closed. But noting their anti-Pakistan interests, foreign intervention has been influencing the approaching elections in one way or the other.

In this respect, reliable sources have disclosed a tremendous increase in diplomatic maneuvering, social activities and interaction in Pakistan. Foreign diplomats, especially of US and UK are collecting significant information, pertaining to seat adjustments, political alliances, making of the caretaker cabinet, and the future set up of the government in the country.

Their socio-political interactive sessions are mainly focused on key political figures and insiders of different political parties.US officials of political section, US Consulate Lahore, Mr. Michael Gray, Political Consular, Zahir Shah Durranim and Political Advisor and Consulate General (CG), Ms. Nina Maria have increased interaction with political figures of various 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 and different politicians have taken place while Mr. Michael Gray and Mr. Rick Political Consular US Embassy, Islamabad have been discussing political situation in the country with many politicians.

In this context, a high profile delegation headed by US Ambassador Richard Olson and Robert Menandez Chairman Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs also visited Lahore twice and met politicians including Mian Nawaz Sharif (PML-N). Office of the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif (PML-N) offered special protocol to these American diplomats and those of the Consulate in Lahore. Foreign Services Nationals (FSN) of US Consulate is also interacting with bureaucracy.

Sources also suggest that a delegation from British High Commission Islamabad, visited Lahore on February, 23, 2013, and held meetings with the leaders of political parties such as Syed Ihsan Ullah Waqas, Liaqat Baloch and Farid Paracha (JI), Mian Manzoor Ahmed Watto and Senator Jhangir Badar (PPP), Ishaq Dar (PML-N) and Maqsood (PML-Q).Besides contacting other political figures, these foreign officials also met human rights activist, Ms. Asma Jahangir including a renowned journalist of the top TV channel.

It is surprising that in the recent past, the opposition party (PML-N) has been accusing the ISI of backing the PTI of Imran Khan so as to bring him in power. Nevertheless, this allegation proved untrue. Besides PML-N, leaders of those parties who have met the US and UK officials regarding elections were continuously blaming the civil government and Pak Army of following pro-American policies. Meanwhile, many crises came in the country like memegate issue, Osama episode etc., and these elements also spread rumours that martial law could be imposed in the country, but Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani remained firm on his principle of non-interference in political process. It is first time in Pakistan’s history that an elected government completed its complete tenure.

Nonetheless, in order to hide the information on interactive meetings of foreign diplomats, political parties use office of secretary information to suppress the news on electronic media. Similarly, US Consulate also uses its office of Press Attache’ and FSN to stop the press in highlighting the subject meetings.

At this critical juncture, such meetings carry serious implications for the state as well the people who are likely to be deceived by their own leaders, converting the coming election-mandate into dishonesty. Unfortunately, our own domestic media which remains dormant on this negative development by ignoring national interests must point out these meetings which indirectly facilitate foreign influence and intervention in the elections.

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