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Dilemma of Electoral Reforms By Beenish Altaf

Generally analyzing long march is a shortcut to bring change in government. Now, keeping a critical view on the contemporary situation of inter-Pakistan political environment where Dr Tahir ul Qadri intended apparently to repeat the history. The agenda behind the descending on the capital under the supervision of chief of Minhaj-ul-Quran International (MQI) is to have “electoral reforms” and a formation of “a totally Impartial Caretaker government”. But the point needs to shed light upon is that Dr Qadri is keeping some part of his real agenda behind curtains.

Since, 23rd December’s flamboyant Lahore procession, Dr Qadri reversed from many of his standing statements. He talked about “delay of elections” quoting article 254 but after getting several queries from the media and analyst about whether he wants delay in elections; he was unable to justify knowing the fact that everyone including the political parties along with a layman wants timely elections. He too backed from his statement that ‘electoral reforms can be carried out in 30 days. Dr Qadri says Care-taker government should be anyone who looks like a good Muslim, the one who pays tax, neutral, powerful and honest but for this he forgot to discover any authentic yardstick that defines it.

No doubt he had a sharp grip on International Law and Constitutional Law (also teaching) but he has a bit wrong interpretation about Election Commission of Pakistan that it cannot punish and charge on one whereas, in real the Election Commission had been given absolute power in addition, the administration and establishment is with them.

In this regard, it is important to highlight that bringing change in is not bad but a proper channel could be used that is through parliament instead of questioning democracy. Long March should be taken-on in dictatorship regimes and not in democratic process, especially when Pakistan is about to complete (leaving the repercussions behind) its 5 years of elected government. It is purely a step of derailing democracy that threatens it badly. Even if they manage to Islamabad, the Long March could not be successful because of several factors; MQM would not stand with Dr Qadri for a long firstly because bringing a bunch of people from Sindh to Islamabad for a prolonged period — not practically possible; secondly, MQM is too puzzled on Dr’s real agenda.

Long March indirectly aims of military intervention by putting an end to government nevertheless; military would not intervene if a peaceful protest is being carried out. It was also a matter of great concern as to why military establishment was still quite but Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa had finally denied “the military’s involvement in the re-emergence of Tahir-ul-Qadri and his political move”. The fact says that military establishment has given several clear statements that it is not interested to intervene in any Pakistani political conspiracies.

It is also being questioned that whether there is any foreign hand behind this agenda. It’s understandable that this newly-surfaced Dr Qadri’s factor could not be sponsored directly but just as a possibility a soft stance could be kept towards him. However, one should not forget the US backing over NRO issue; the same situation can be repeated since international community is already familiar with the two big leading political parties. The US and Britain for meeting their interests do not want PPP and PML-N to come on power again whereas Dr Qadri is more liberal, “enlightened moderate scholar” and Altaf Hussain secular; both are momentous to US (their status of dual-nationality adds to it).

In this context, President Zardari already given clues stating “Egyptian Model” would not work here. The model was kept ambiguous further but viewing the statement in comparison with the “Tahrir Sqare” of Dr Qadri, it gives clear message that he intends to oust the government as it was in the “Tehrir Square of Egypt” where the government of Mubarik had been thrown over resulted in the formation of “Military Council” that latter conducted elections. It depicts his thought that dwell somewhere at the back of his mind and is out of agenda’s screen. It is also conspicuous here that MQM’s President also appealed to the armed forces of the country to support the “revolution” instead of trying to hinder it while addressing the rally.

The Nationalist Party “Mutahida Qaumi Movement” (MQM) jumped-in the Dr Qadri bandwagon at the same time pledging the already allied government too, for not playing against the administration in other words ensuring not to be “Muhajar Qaumi Movement” (MQM). The shift of the MQM is taken by and large as opportunism but the offer of full support from PML-Q to Dr Qadri further raised suspicions. This extraordinary arrival of Dr Qadri and the joining of hands by the MQM and the PML-Q, might lead to widespread confusions about the involvement of Pakistani establishment behind this unexpected phenomenon.

PML-N stance is crystal clear as he said that country no longer wants to import leaders. Well, imported or not, it is valued that the “Sheik-ul-Islam” by calling for Long March had successfully posed menace all over. Thus, PML-N and PPP if both with the consent of all political parties reach to national consensus and announce the date for Care Taker Government then the posed threat would be left no longer if, the agenda is like as it give the impression of being at moment.

If evaluating it with Mr Imran Khan political vision, he does have the ability to lead such sort of move by giving a “real agenda” more than the changing agendas’. At present, Imran Khan not joining hands to him supported the demands of “Electoral Reforms” but as far as elections are concerned, he like everybody else wants to have it on time.

If Dr Qadri wants gratis and fair system in the country then why he opted for last days (before election) and where was he from the past 4 years and 10 months? The “Canadian National” planned to Pakistan at the time of elections to rectify the law and enforcement departments. The apprehension raised here by many analysts is: why he left the system (as a member of National Assembly) knowing the way that change can be brought only by keeping oneself in as a part of that system. What was the need to push for the immediate installation of a caretaker set-up when that is less than three months away?” Though, the demand of transparent and fair elections, electoral law and system is acceptable — dream of all, but the strategy and time adopted by a dual-national leader posed serious concerns and open-ended queries in domestic politics.

As the general elections are on line so, the best option is to reach at national consensus by negotiations with give and take strategy of democracy by taking on board all Pakistani political parties. Ultimately all the on-going complexities have a very positive outcome where each party may have to lose a little bit but gaining a pure and fair democratic government at the end. Well from this time, the country is looking forward to 14 January to see the “haqeeqi democracy” — as per Dr Qadri.






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