By S. M. Hali 

Pakistan’s elections 2013 are being viewed with interest by both the external and internal observers with interest. The external observers are keen to discern, what kind of political dispensation will rule the roost in Islamabad. The external forces are having their ethnocentric interest in Pakistan’s elections 2013; because they want to be sure that a favourable government is in power, which may serve their interests. The Americans are keen to receive assurance that the withdrawal of ISAF and NATO troops from Afghanistan takes place without further hiccups. The Brits as usual are riding on the coattails of the Yanks. India, in pursuance of its own dreams of grandeur and power play, is eager to see a weak dispensation in Islamabad, which can be browbeaten and made to kowtow to its dictates.

The ramifications of external pressures on Pakistan’s elections are manifold. One of the dénouements is the US and British diplomats accredited to Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, making a beeline to woo different political leaders. Most of these meetings have been in public places and one would find fault only if they were clandestine. However, it is not clear whether any genuine obtrusion has been reported. That would be in bad taste.

Another form of pressure being exerted is through terror attacks. Ever since the caretaker setup was put into place, there have been scores of bomb attacks in various parts of Pakistan but Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Karachi are bearing the brunt of these attacks. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone 108 precious lives have been lost which include political candidates for the elections. Whereas the Tehreek-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP) has admitted responsibility for the attacks, it is evident that the external detractors of Pakistan are aiding and abetting these perpetrators of the heinous attack to keep the people away from the electoral process and the politicians from conducting election campaigns to garner support for their bid to join the parliament. Pakistan’s enemies believe that the series of terror attacks will destabilize Pakistan.

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[box] It must be borne in mind that there are domestic means of redressing grievances if any against the ECP. Pakistan’s judiciary is free, fair, independent and vibrantly active. Nearly all the political parties including the one which has solicited to the UN joined the judiciary’s struggle to shed the shackles of bondage. It should have the confidence that justice will not only be meted out but appear to have been done. 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 the political party in question and it speaks volumes about the party’s mind-set to promote its own interests even at the cost of state of Pakistan. Such memorandums submitted at UN simply tarnish the image of Pakistan as a sovereign state and it also reflects the lack of trust by the party concerned on ECP / Government of Pakistan.[/box]

It has been noticed that it is the secular parties, which are being targeted and the responsibility is being claimed by the TTP, who are undoubtedly extremists and would not like a secular dispensation to hold the reign of power and launch a major campaign to eradicate extremism and terrorism from the country.

Karachi has also witnessed attacks on political leaders, which is a cause for concern; More so because the Awami National Party (ANP) has laid the blame squarely on the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for not being able to provide them security. This of course is adding to the challenges of the ECP, which is burning the midnight oil in trying to determine the suitability of each candidate for elections and has its task cut out reviewing and examining the electoral nominations, as well as verifying discrepancies if any in a short period of time since the polls are less than a month away.

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This brings us to another type of internal pressure, which is tantamount to inviting external pressures. No doubt Pakistan is passing through the most testing and disturbing times of its history. The anti Pakistan foreign elements are leaving no stone unturned in utilizing the Pakistani prospect exploiting internal fissures and divisive lines to accomplish their designs. 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. In the process they forget the overall interests of Pakistan as a sovereign state capable of functioning vigorously and operating assertively. In this context MQM made a classic overture and a unique misadventure by submitting a memorandum to the United Nations (UN) against delimitation of constituencies in Karachi by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

As per media reports (The News-31 March 2013 and Geo News 30th March 2013) 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 MQM) 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.

It must be borne in mind that there are domestic means of redressing grievances if any against the ECP. Pakistan’s judiciary is free, fair, independent and vibrantly active. Nearly all the political parties including the one which has solicited to the UN joined the judiciary’s struggle to shed the shackles of bondage. It should have the confidence that justice will not only be meted out but appear to have been done. 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 the political party in question and it speaks volumes about the party’s mind-set to promote its own interests even at the cost of state of Pakistan. Such memorandums submitted at UN simply tarnish the image of Pakistan as a sovereign state and it also reflects the lack of trust by the party concerned on ECP / Government of Pakistan.

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Perhaps it is in vogue to enjoy all the perks of the party in power by joining its ranks and enjoying all kinds of privileges entitled to any political cliques placed in power. This particular party had its say when the ECP was being appointed; hence it is fair that it respects the rulings of the ECP. Involving international community on purely internal affairs of Pakistan is a misadventure by the party in question and needs to be viewed seriously by all segments of the society, including, media, civil society, political parties and general masses.

The people of Pakistan have gained political maturity and are fully capable of exerting their political rights without any external or internal pressures. Let the voice of the people speak unhindered and unencumbered. Let the best candidates win the trust of the people to lead them for the next five years.

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