Hardly ever have we had an election culminating in the losing parties accepting the results and not raising the allegations of rigging. Twice in the history did protests stemming from such allegations turn nasty. Rewind to 1977. The PNA, a right-wing alliance of nine political parties, rejected the March 1977 election results that gave the PPP, led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, an overwhelming majority. The PNA launched an anti-Bhutto movement that not only plunged Pakistan into the morass of martial law yet again, but also led to the hanging of Bhutto, on grounds not even remotely connected with elections.

A second time the allegations of rigging turned into a violent anti-government movement happened very recently. PTI chief Imran Khan never appeared convinced of the PML-N’s victory in the 2013 elections. A little over a year after the elections, Khan and his supporters — also aided by Dr Tahirul Qadri’s PAT — embarked on a protest march to Islamabad that featured a 126-day-long sit-in in the heart of the capital city. Khan called for the resignation of PM Nawaz Sharif, and there were times during the protest when a military intervention looked imminent. The ‘Go Nawaz Go’ movement failed to succeed though, the anti-government sentiments did not die down. And as the Panama Leaks happened, the PTI was back on the roads, resulting in the Supreme Court taking a suo-motu notice of the issue. And what happened next is history.

The allegations of stolen mandate are rearing its ugly head once again. A right-wing alliance, the MMA, is in the forefront yet again, having called for an all-party conference to take up the issue. Mainstream parties like the PML-N and the PPP don’t appear serious. But the TLP — the find of the election 2018 — is ready to join forces with the MMA. The PTI, now on the other side of the fence, needs to handle the situation wisely. The country can no longer afford political instability.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2018.

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    Original news : https://tribune.com.pk/story/1767781/6-rigging/