“The only safeguard and protection Pakistan has from foreign influences is to strictly adhere to its ideology and vision of Allama Iqbal and M A Jinnah. This alone would make Pakistan an unassailable fortress.” Raja Mujtaba
By Waheed Hamid
The increased diplomatic activity in Pakistan with closing of election schedule is not a silent issue any more. Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore have become hub of undiplomatic activities of the Diplomats. After meetings of diplomats with the politicians the surfacing of promises in quite circles of media about give and take between both have raised suspicions on patriotism of politicians. There are reports of direct involvement of embassy staff for influencing the political future of Pakistan through use of tools like NGOs. Planning of surveys for political leaders and parties and the task of exploring venues to influence the election system has already been given to these NGOs. A number of NGOs have been lined up in Multan, Shekhupura, Quetta and Khairpur where special programs will be run to influence the future of democracy in Pakistan The Church World Services (CWS) P/A is all set to organize and impart training to journalists and civil society in Peshawer to monitor the elections. All expenses, boarding and lodging will be borne by them. Similar plan of CWS are in hand for Quetta and they are using senior members of journalist community to act as their front man. A common Pakistani is dragged into conspiracy theories when CWS, an International Non Governmental Organization (INGO) which implements humanitarian and development activities across Pakistan and Afghanistan starts throwing its finances into Pakistan’s elections. Moreover, the foreign funding for local foundations run by political parties in Karachi are being negotiated with promises of facilitation for the business zones adjacent to Kimari . It is not only the terrorists of Balochistan who sit in foreign lands and defame Pakistan but it has been learned that a political party has plans to approach United Nations and they are actively conspiring with diplomats seeking their support. A meeting has already taken place a few days back between a female party leader at the residence of a diplomat to work out cooperation.
It sends a wave of concern for Pakistanis when they hear that Chief of USAID, Mr Raju Shah has increased his interaction with election commission of Pakistan with ready funding from his embassy for number of projects on elections. These rumors of unusual diplomatic attention and international funding will not only result in increase of trust deficit between the countries but domestically the gap between such political leaders and the public will also enhance. The decision of US military leadership not to visit Pakistan at this time was a welcome step but activities of USAID are bound to pose problems as the region enters the Exit stage in Afghanistan. The requirement of these activities are even of more concern after the UNDP project’s for conduct of election in Pakistan have already focused on provision of technical assistance for the needs identified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in extensive consultations with UNDP and as articulated in ECP’s 5 year Strategic Plan, 2010-2014. The project is for 3 years duration and is divided into two phases, with Phase I covering the period up and including the conduct of elections while Phase II focuses on the post election period. There fore all other forms being initiated through NGOs will negatively affect Pakistan’s democratic future. To oversee all this domestic game there are reports of establishing a front line office for monitoring and influencing internal affairs of target countries in Doha , Qatar under the garb of business solutions consultancy. These rumors keep spreading in social circles and media when they find some link to happenings on ground, with even more intensity as 11 May approaches.
The credibility and fairness of oncoming elections now largely depends on vote by the maximum without any foreign interference. The optics of election are as important as the conduct. The people are much aware now and have the capacity to identify friends and foe from within and outside. At this juncture along with the politicians the role of institutions and organs of the government is equally important. Where it is constitutional duty of judiciary to ensure that all institutions play their role within ambit of constitution and support the electoral process, it is moral obligation on part of other organs and institutions to fully support this Nation building event. The significance of these elections is much more than the natural and artificial calamities of floods , earthquake , terrorist attacks and other nation building projects where the institutions have been playing a role. The politicians, civil society, media and the government should take measures to ensure maximum turnout. The institutions which have to remain non political and yet support election have an uphill task but where there is will there is a way. Firstly, they must recognize that they themselves comprise of a huge vote bank themselves. There is a need to ensure that maximum government employs are motivated and facilitated to cast their vote . The government employees who get their earning from the money collected from tax certainly have more responsibility towards accomplishment of voting as a nation building task. Secondly , this vote bank which has a better education level be used to educate others to maximize cast of votes in National interest. Lastly, the institutions who have to provide shield and stop undiplomatic activities must move forward to protect the solidarity and pride of Pakistan and minimize foreign meddling in elections. The media must unearth and expose anti state activities. With article 62 and 63 there is a need to also refresh Pakistan Penal code, section 123-A which say who ever endangers safety of Pakistan, condemn its creation, harm two Nation theory or advocate the curtailment of sovereignty of Pakistan shall be punished under the law.
Despite heartening statements from the leaders of glowing democracies of the world the actions of same nations strongly contradicts and unveils their intentions Non interference at this moment in Pakistan is the most desired and friendly course but we find quite a few of the diplomatic missions involved in undemocratic activities. The wooing of media and political parties by other countries to fulfill their goals is understandable but silence of National media and moving of politicians into this trap is mind boggling. Barack Obama emphasizing his second term foreign policy objectives, vowed, “ the US would support democracy in Asia and the Middle East and resolve its differences with the world peacefully”. A press release issued by the British High Commission recently said: “The UK strongly supports democracy in Pakistan. Representative, accountable government that delivers for the people, and is chosen according to constitutional processes, is in the best interests of Pakistan,” but some how they fail to check and block the undemocratic forces operating in this part of the world. Those political leaders and the friends of Pakistan who eye for short term advantages must realize that time of manipulated democracy is over and any manipulation will not only harm Pakistan’s democratic forces but will prove a serious dent in people to people relationship of the countries.