With ten (1977, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2013) manipulated elections and no accountability, “cheatability” has become an essential ingredient of electability. In other words, electable individuals have mastered the art of cheating to get elected. An interesting term; ‘election day dynamics’ is used to cover up this blatant attack on the very foundations of democracy. The will of the masses is determined through an honest ballot. Manipulation takes away the mandate and the rulers are rendered unable to govern.

Democracy is all about people, they count and their will prevails. As a political activist I firmly believe that the mass of the masses is un-stoppable. When they decide to march the rulers have to march out. We the members of the first generation of Pakistan through street power have successfully toppled four Khaki dictators through street power. When comrade, Aitzaz Ahsan decided to launch the Lawyer’s Movement’ for the restoration of the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) in 2007 the task seemed impossible. The entire might of the establishment could not save the General when the people decided to protest.

Political leaders who come into power through tainted ballots cannot afford the pressure of accountability. Musharraf’s National Accountability Bureau (NAB) should have been named Money Recovery Bureau (MRB), or a collection agency, as it is called in USA. It has mainly negotiated the return of looted money and that too from the opposition parties only. Accountability is like law, it either applies to everyone or no one. NAB is totally ineffective and its continuation in its current form is a drain on national resources.

Thana politics, that were introduced during the regime of Ayub Khan, started the political rot. Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi who was also called ‘Chor Sipahi’ was a product of this era. He relied on his ‘Paity Bhais’ (policemen) for his political gains. His direct descendents Chaudry Pervaiz Elahi and Shujaat Hussain have continued that tradition. The Sharif brothers were launched by Zia-ul-Haq who then expanded the scope of the use of the state apparatus for personal gains to other departments like education, health, irrigation etc. Even assets of the state were not spared. Plots were doled out and state land usurped by mafias in connivance with the rulers.

Service to the people is no longer on the agenda. Unfortunately politics in our times has become a lucrative business. Once in power the assets multiply manifold. There were some democratic gains in the Awami Era (1971–1977) when Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) under the leadership of its founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) came into power through a credible election held under the Khakis in 1970. With support of the masses, ZAB was able to govern in favour of national interests. He was supported by a team of competent and honest individuals, comrades like Dr. Mubashir Hassan who rose to high positions of authority but did not seek personal gains.

In the 1977 elections some of the political heavy weights that managed to get PPP tickets indulged in cheating to get elected. There was a serious back lash, people refused to accept the results of a manipulated ballot. Despite his popularity ZAB was toppled and then physically eliminated. Till today the 1970 ballot remains the only credible electoral exercise in the country which produced the ablest legislators. Two constitutions were framed in this period (1972, 1973) which can indeed be termed as era of democracy.

Legislators who get elected through tainted ballots then do not follow the constitution that curtails their lust and greed. Violations are rampant. There must been an effective mechanism in place to curtail this abuse. First cheating takes place at the ballot and then the constitution and rule of law is overlooked.

Election Day dynamics is a cover up to rob the ballot. It only worked in the days of ‘Thana Politics’. In the 1970 elections the voters were facilitated and transported by the electable to cast their votes but they voted for ZAB’s People’s Party. If the state apparatus is neutral and facilitates the process a credible ballot can be ensured. In established democracies the entire electoral exercise is peaceful and hassle free, accountability prevails over electability and cheatability.

A lot of people including politicians believe that Pakistanis elect corrupt political leaders. With ten manipulated elections there is no basis for this belief. If electables are so indispensable why do they have to cheat to get elected? What is the need for them to manipulate the electoral process.

Kaptaan’s long march and dharna has succeeded in exposing the rigging and ir-regularities in the electoral process. Since then the sanctity of the ballot has been restored to some extent but a lot needs to be done to cleanse the entire process, starting with delimitation of constituencies, a verifiable voters list and then effective law enforcement. Before the 1977 ballot an election monitoring cell was established within the ISI which has collected tons of data. It was this cell that advised ZAB to hold elections ahead of time and Zia not to hold them within ninety days as announced.

We the people of Pakistan have a right to elect our leaders in a free and fair election as was done in 1970. It is time to reject the hegemony of the electables as it is based on deceit, and cheating. The khakis being the only functional institution in the country have a major role in ensuring an honest ballot, so that they can focus on their own responsibilities on the borders leaving internal governance to credible political leadership.