After a very impressive speech in the inaugural session of the National Assembly, Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) referred to Imran Khan as Prime Minister-Select (PM-S) and not ‘Elect’(PM-E). PPP like Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is a real political party not conceived and launched by GHQ unlike PML-N. Bilawal’s words carry political weight whereas the Sharif’s lack credibility to talk about selection as that is how they were propelled into power by the establishment.

Governor Lt. Gen Ghulam Jillani Khan was tasked by the President Gen. Zia-ul-Haq to select and forward three names from the province for the coveted positions of PM.S/CM-S. The list included: Chaudhry Ghafoor from South Punjab, Hamid Nasir Chattha from Central Punjab and Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif from Lahore. Zia then met Mian Muhammad Sharif (Abba Ji) and finally selected Nawaz Sharif (NS) to lead Punjab as Chief Minister-Select.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) had special affinity for Lahore that is why he launched his party here in November 1967. Mian Sahib was given a free hand to reduce the influence of PPP in the city. From Gawal Mandi from where the Sharif’s hailed to Model Town and then Jatti Umra it’s a tale of deceit and destruction. In the process several institutions were trampled. Around 35000 criminals were recruited into the Punjab Police alone. In order to grab property the centuries old record room of the District Courts was set ablaze while the Deputy Commissioner (DC) Nasir Khoso helplessly looked on. The mob then attacked the Lahore Metropolitan Corporation (LMC) where they faced resistance and the record was saved. While PML-N boasts of computerization of record, in most cases the city has no record.

PML-N has outlived its utility and is on its way out to be replaced by re-emergent PML-Q, the establishment game goes on. Certainly the pot can’t call the kettle black. Those who were always selected and never elected cannot lead a movement against selection. However, Bhutto’s party carries weight as it is a genuine political entity that is why PPP refused to bring the political system down as was done in 1977 against their government.

As a conscientious, seasoned voter, I have voted in all electoral contests except the one in 1970 as I was under age. The elections in 1970 were free and fair as there were no plans to transfer power. In 1977, Pre-poll rigging was reported in some constituencies as the PM and all the four sitting CM’s were elected unopposed. ZAB was an elected PM, he could have easily won again. Instead of relying on his public support he decided to use state power to hold on. The protests were carried too far, the entire political order collapsed.

In 2018 I voted again. The entire process was very peaceful as the infamous Punjab Police and the Patwaris were kept out of the process. Every pooling room had one uniformed Army personnel who maintained order. The candidates were denied free access and there were no Police raids. In 2013 Saad Rafiq was all over the place. With the help of Police he even entered the female polling areas to harass the voters. After the results were announced there was no aerial firing for which PML-N candidates are famous.

For a fair assessment of the process, I decided to sit with my PML-N friends who are bent upon calling the contest a farce. They agree that it was a very peaceful election, their objections include: Pre-Poll rigging, high incidence of rejected votes and the failure of RTS and availability of Form-45. Credible ballot plays an important role in democracy. After the elections in 2013 Kaptaan demanded opening of four constituencies. PTI Candidates approached the election tribunals who were stopped from deliberating by ill-intentioned high court stays. Finally Kaptaan decided on the long march and dharna in August 2014, over a year later after exhausting all legal remedies.

Political conflicts should be resolved politically. Nations must not repeat the same mistakes again and again. Genuine complaints must be resolved for the democrat process to take roots. In India election results are accepted by all contesting parties. Between 1977 to 2017 every electoral contest has been disputed and now the results of the 2018 ballot are being questioned.

It is interesting that despite the fact that results were as predicted except for PPP that secured higher number of seats, the contest between PTI and PML-N was neck to neck. Rigging is usually carried out to gain absolute control of the parliament as was done in 1977, 1995 and 2013. The current house is very divided with PPP holding the balance between the two major parties. More over the Election Commission was appointed by PML-N and PPP over riding PTI objections.

Considering all the facts above Imran Khan is a truly elected PM of Pakistan, the second after ZAB. Bhutto earned the title of ‘Quaid-e-Awam’ by his service to the country and its suffering masses. Dr. Arif Alvi the President is a real political activist. He has promised to be an active Head of State unlike his predecessor. Farooq Leghari took deep interest in the development of technology by forming several committees of experts. Fawad Chaudhry has invited the opposition to come forward with its concerns about the electoral process. Political players have responsibility to strengthen the democratic order to avoid out of space terrestrial interventions that have been ongoing since 1958. PML-N a party of selection may not understand this approach, but I am confident that PPP will not side with the forces of status-quo and will play its role in strengthening democracy for which four Bhutto’s died young. All differences should be settled on the table, a beginning has to be made. There is a powerful saying; ‘Death is inevitable everything else is negotiable. Only credible elected leadership can lead the nation, selection does not work.

 

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation.

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