Electoral worries surface again

It is becoming apparent that we live in The Age of Polarities. There are divisions across the world which as recently as five years ago would have been unthinkable — Brexit, the fracturing of American political life under the Trump presidency, Spain and the attempt to create an independent Catalonia — all in the last five years. And Pakistan. The last year has seen the country increasingly polarised politically by the unseating of Nawaz Sharif on what was essentially a technicality with the Panama Papers ruling. Now the nation is months away from the dissolution of the government and the selection of a caretaker entity prior to the election itself which if all goes to plan will likely be in August.

There is a real and justifiable concern amidst the turmoil of the credibility and quality of the election, and almost 50 non-governmental organisations have formed a coalition under the banner of the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) and are deploring the way in which the military and the judiciary have been drawn into the political narrative. There is no political unanimity anywhere, parliament itself has been abused as an institution; and the integrity of the Election Commission of Pakistan is urged to ensure transparency and raise public confidence in the institutions of democracy.

The upcoming elections are crucial if Pakistan is to continue down the democratic path. They are the second to be held where one civilian government hands on to another without let or hindrance — a defining moment. Given the polarities evident on all sides and a decaying human and civil rights environment, the Fafen coalition has every right to be concerned, anxious even. They are advocating a national dialogue to reverse the ‘negativism, polarisation and uncertainty’ — a move we would support but given the speed of events and an ever-tightening timeline there has to be doubt that much can be achieved towards this goal between now and August. Petty politics cannot be allowed to hobble the progress of democracy as we do truly stand at a crossroads. Let us protect and value what has been achieved and not soil our own doorstep.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2018.

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    Original news : https://tribune.com.pk/story/1613798/6-electoral-worries-surface/