Sunday, May 12, 2013

Election Replay

Photo Source: ET Blogs
People were enthusiastic because an elected government had completed its tenure for the first time in Pakistan and elections were now being held for a democratic transition of government. Unfortunately, news of massive rigging appeared before the process could be completed and some of the contestants announced boycott while demanding re-election on the seats where rigging had occurred. This was May 12, 2013, right? Wrong.

The first so-called elected government in Pakistan to complete its tenure was the PPP regime of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1977. Elections were held for the national assembly on March 7, 1977, and the results were met with serious allegations of rigging. The opposition boycotted the elections to the provincial assemblies, held on March 10. A deadlock ensued and martial law was eventually imposed on July 5.

The election day this year was reminiscent of 1977 in some ways, although not as bad. It was different mainly because one major contestant could be trusted not to use rigging and un-democratic methods. Needless to mention, this was Imran Khan with his Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf. This may have made a difference.

Throughout the past, almost every major contestant has been resorting to some show of force for intimidating their opponents during the elections. Since everybody was involved, it was very easy to blame the political culture of the country and to say that a nation like Pakistan could not have true democracy; that this is the best which we can get. This sentiment has been reflected in the life and work of those intellectuals who have been supporting various political leaders as champions of democracy without asking those leaders to refrain from un-democratic measures for seizing and holding power.

The same sentiment is reflected in the statements of the election commission, who are congratulating us on a "fair and free" election despite our first hand experience to the contrary. Clearly, these people think and have been thinking that the nation deserves no better.

The first lesson to be learnt from the recent elections is that we deserve better. We must concede that it is possible to have true democracy in Pakistan. If one political party can rely on purely legal means for securing a considerable share in the national assembly and a sweeping victory in a turbulent and traditionally backward province, why others cannot do the same?

Photo Source: RFI
Next post: "Elections Results: an Iqbal Studies Perspective"


  1. The country deserves a democratic and peaceful environment.From what I read and heard I got the impression lack of unity among the educated is the major obstacle in the path of a country like Pakistan.Everyone seems to think it's their way or the highway. In my life I've always felt that politics is the filthiest thing.I have listened to Fatima Bhutto for hours on TV. She is a very bright young lady from whom much can be learned.It does not matter what her last name is.She knows Pakistan's history,she knows where the problem lies.No one seems to give her any credit.Why have Pakistanis agreed to have their country attacked by drones.They have killed way more women and children than the so called terrorists. It is time for the country to wake up and stop latching on to countries that are more their enemies than friends.As long as the citizens bow down and take quietly what is thrown at them, the turmoil will continue.

  2. Greetings,

    Thank you for this.

    I am immediately struck with a particular point from this post. Belief that improvement is possible, and that evolution out of a sorrowful state can occur, is essential. This is essential not only for personal development, but for social improvement as well. "We deserve better" can, thus, be a thought-catalyst for fresh growth to happen.

    I seem to get stuck on this point in many Iqbal discussions. I come back to how to get a society to overcome a seeming addiction to "the way things are." At the root of this addiction is the seeming lack of belief in the potential of the human being to be something greater this moment than s/he was a moment ago.

    All good wishes,


  3. Thank you for this round up of the elections. It seriously was a diappointment and dampened my joy for the day. Indeed, the normal environment of the day was festive but due to some people the charm, spirit of the day ruined.

    @Robert: do you know, I also was stuck at this point and it made me think of so many other aspects behind this dream/urge/thought.

  4. couldnt agree with you more on this. personally i feel that a lot of people are determined to ridicule the very idea that some people have chosen PTI. we deserve better, without a doubt. and the series of protest will eventually go down in our history and be a sign that people did not want to settle for less than what they deserve.

  5. thank you for this article...I've been meaning to ask your view about this election and its results based on some of your posts comparing Pakistan to Marghdeen and that we are on our way to a 'meliorist' future for our country.

    Personally I was really enthusiastic about this election because of the hope that we CAN have better, I really believed we could have Marghdeen in the making under a good and truly democratic government. Needless to say I was disappointed beyond words at the way the election results were manipulated by some major political parties.

    As you might have guessed, I am an enthusiastic PTI supporter. And while discussing the choice of candidate with different people of all ages and backgrounds, I think was really disappointed that people were not yet ready to dream for Marghdeen or accept that we CAN have better. It really confused me because somehow through these courses I got the impression that you saw Pakistan as potential Marghdeen and the collective conscious of people on a level to move forward towards this. Even supposedly educated people, not to mention the mass of those from lower and middle classes who are not ready for the revolution that Iqbal's philosophy has to offer. People from all backgrounds, esp the educated ones, make fun of Iqbal and his teachings...they have no idea what the gist of that teaching is...

    I think Pakistan as potential Marghdeen was defeated by age -old currupt system, I hope you know that Imran Khan held that his party would restore 'Iqbal's Pakistan' and he proposed making Iqbal studies compulsory in education.

    How do you see the election fever, the post election situation and the general trend of our collective will?

    Do you think we should protest against rigging? or just accept the results and wait for the same fate to fall us in the next elections?

    Really looking forward to your next post, I hope I will find my answers in that :)

  6. From the concluding lines "If one political party can rely on purely legal means for securing a considerable share in the national assembly and a sweeping victory in a turbulent and traditionally backward province, why others cannot do the same?", it appears that you are writing pro-PTI. I totally disagree that PTI relied on "purely legal means". All parties including PTI used all possible unfair means in the current elections.

    Secondly, how I am watching the results of this election is what Khrram Shafiq had said in 2008 (Pakistan: Next 20 years - 2017 to 2026) "it may seem as if the idea of Pakistan as conceived in the Lahore Resolution of 1940 has become irrelevant in some ways if not all." The time started from this election that separate parties will govern the autonomous units (provinces, Gilgit/Baltistan, AJK),they have their diverse financial and political interests. Finally, before end of this term of five years, apparently, there will be a worse period for Pakistan than today.

    Thirdly, USA occupied Afghanistan in 2001-2 and they needed a government in KPK (then NWFP) which could welcome the terrorists coming from Afghanistan to Pakistan, so, MMA formed the Government there, terrorists came here with the label of Taliban (though they were not Taliban who governed Afghanistan and established peace there). Then they needed a government friendly with Hamid Karzi, so, ANP won 2008 elections there. Now, since the USA has to leave the area, they need a government which will facilitate them for earliest exit i.e. PTI who claim that they will kick off USA from their land and they need a government in KPK which is not pro-Taliban i.e. Jamat-e-Islami who will support Gulbadin Hikmat Yar's Hizb-e-Islami to won next elections in Afghanistan enabling USA to say that Taliban are defeated.

    Finally, I quote a verse from Bal-i-Jibreel (Peom: Politics):-
    بیچارہ پیادہ تو ہے اک مہرہ ناچیز
    فرضیں سے بھی پوشیدہ ہے شاطر کا ارادہ

    Poor Pawn is a worthless piece
    even the queen doesn't know the player's next move

  7. I think the statement "The first so-called elected government in Pakistan to complete its tenure was the PPP regime of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1977." is not historically correct. The said assembly which was to complete its term on 11-Apr-1977 was dissolved by the President on advice of the Prime Minister on 7-Jan-1977 i.e. a few months earlier. Constitutionally speaking, the Government of Nawaz Sharif was also ended in the same was in 1993 when the President dissolved the National Assembly on advice of the Prime Minister using same constitutional provisions. Historically, the first National Assembly that completed its five years full term was the 12th National Assembly (2002-7) which completed its 5 years term and the last assembly (2008-13) was the second in the line.