Peo­ple the ul­ti­mate ar­biters

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION - Ma­lik M Ashraf Email: ash­

For the po­lit­i­cal forces who have been sali­vat­ing to see de­moc racy tak­ing roots in the coun­try and power trans­ferred through bal­lot, the dream has come true with the nom­i­na­tion of the care­taker Prime Min­is­ter by the ECP as re­quired un­der the con­sti­tu­tion, re­mov­ing any doubts about peo­ple fi­nally ex­er­cis­ing their right of fran­chise with­out any hin­drance or in­ter­ven­tion from any quar­ter. A new tra­di­tion would have been set if the Prime Min­is­ter and the op­po­si­tion leader had agreed on the name of the care­taker Prime Min­is­ter. Nev­er­the­less it is en­cour­ag­ing and sat­is­fy­ing to note that the process has cul­mi­nated with­out any hic-up.

None­the­less, it is grat­i­fy­ing to note that the care taker Prime Min­is­ter en­joys the con­fi­dence of all the ma­jor po­lit­i­cal play­ers on the chess board of Pak­istani pol­i­tics. Jus­tice (retd) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso has had an im­pec­ca­ble and un­blem­ished ca­reer as a judge and en­joys good rep­u­ta­tion. An­other pos­i­tive fac­tor is that he be­longs to Balochis­tan, that might help in pla­cat­ing the Baloch na­tion­al­ists and tempt them to join the main­stream of the na­tional pol­i­tics by par­tic­i­pat­ing in the en­su­ing elec­tions.

The care­taker Prime Min­is­ter, im­me­di­ately af­ter his nom­i­na­tion told the me­dia that his first and fore­most pri­or­ity would be to sup­port and help the ECP to en­sure hold­ing of free and fair elec­tions in the coun­try and that he would treat all the po­lit­i­cal par­ties alike. That in­deed is very re­as­sur­ing. The words of a sa­vant like him can be safely taken at their face value. He also made it clear that the Pres­i­dent did not have any role in the elec­tions; an im­plied ref­er­ence to the of­ten-re­peated al­le­ga­tions by a po­lit­i­cal party that free and fair elec­tions could not be held while Zar­dari was in the of­fice.

He is right, be­cause the elec­tions are to be held by the ECP with the sup­port of the ex­ec­u­tive and the Pres­i­dent does not fig­ure in the scheme of things in this re­gard. With a neu­tral and hon­est man head­ing the ex­ec­u­tive, as­sertive ECP, pro-ac­tive ju­di­ciary and the ever vig­i­lant me­dia it would al­most be im­pos­si­ble for any other en­tity or in­di­vid­ual to in­flu­ence the out­come of the elec­tions in any un­con­sti­tu­tional man­ner tak­ing ad­van­tage of his po­si­tion. Much will also de­pend on the way the po­lit­i­cal par­ties con­duct them­selves in re­gards to the ef­forts of the ECP and the care­taker set up in hold­ing elec­tions in a trans­par­ent man­ner. They need to be­have in a re­spon­si­ble man­ner dur­ing their elec­tions cam­paigns and fo­cus more on sell­ing their man­i­festoes in­stead of mud-sling­ing and launch­ing per­sonal at­tacks on their ri­vals be­cause ul­ti­mately it is on the ba­sis of their per­for­mance or the pro­grammes for the fu­ture pre­sented by them that the peo­ple have to make their choices.

For the elec­tions to be free and fair it is es­sen­tial that they are held in a con­vivial at­mos­phere and the tra­di­tional hos­til­ity and an­i­mos­ity to­wards each other gives way to a healthy and pro­duc­tive com­pe­ti­tion among them. Now that all is set to trans­late the dream of tran­si­tion of power by ref­er­ence to the peo­ple and con­sol­i­dat­ing the gains of democ­racy, all the stake­hold­ers es­pe­cially the po­lit­i­cal par­ties owe it to the masses not to do any thing which shat­ters their faith in democ­racy or pro­vides any ex­cuse to the forces in­im­i­cal to demo­cratic dis­pen­sa­tion to make their move and drag the coun­try back to the dark al­leys again. The po­lit­i­cal par­ties and their lead­ers must also de­sist from state­ments or ac­tions that could make the role of the care taker government or the ECP con­tro­ver­sial. They should keep faith in the im­par­tial­ity and the ca­pa­bil­ity of th­ese in­sti­tu­tions to make th­ese elec­tions a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone in our march to­wards a po­lit­i­cal polity en­vi­sioned by the found­ing fa­ther.

An­other very im­por­tant fac­tor in this re­spect would be the ac­cep­tance of elec­tions re­sults with an open heart, the lack of which has been the bane of democ­racy in this coun­try. The na­tion has suf­fered the con­se­quences of this kind of be­hav­iour and we surely need a break from this dread­ful ex­pe­ri­ence of the past. Merely paying lip ser­vice and mak­ing tall claims about their love for democ­racy is not enough. Po­lit­i­cal Par­ties will have to show their com­mit­ment through their ac­tions. That is the only way for­ward. Any di­gres­sion from this path may pro­duce neg­a­tive re­sults. The me­dia and in­tel­li­gentsia also have a great re­spon­si­bil­ity in guid­ing and help­ing the peo­ple to un­der­stand what is at stake and re­port­ing the un­fold­ing events in an ob­jec­tive and im­par­tial man­ner to play their con­trib­u­tory role in strength­en­ing democ­racy.

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