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Elections 2013: A guide for the perplexed

by Ghazala Akbar:

General Election! Which Election? Depends on where you are.

Contrary to popular belief there is not one but are several elections simultaneously taking place in Pakistan. First and foremost there is the contest in the populous province of Punjab often described as the heart of Pakistan. This is where the political heavyweights, the Establishment and the majority of the electorate reside. In electoral terms, the Punjab is the decisive battleground. Whosoever has the bulk of the seats here will be in a strong position to direct the shape and composition of the next government. That is the crux of the matter. Like it or lump it. Presently there is a right royal battle raging on the banks of the Ravi. PML (N) of Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan’s PTI. Noon versus Junoon. It is a passion play of epic proportions.

There is also another election of sorts happening in parts of Pakistan that are not in the Punjab. This encompasses the province of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa currently dominated by the Awami National Party (ANP), the rural areas of Sindh, home ground of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the urban areas of Sindh — in particular the Port city of Karachi, controlled for the most part by the Muthahda Qaumi Movement (MQM). Often called a ‘mini-Pakistan’– reflective perhaps of its ethnic diversity, the commercial capital of Pakistan is also a heavy source of revenue to the depleting coffers of the Central Government. The arithmetic of the National Assembly dictates that Parties from the smaller provinces cannot form a government on their own. But they can and do have a crucial supporting role as ‘Kingmakers’, punching way above their electoral weight.

In the last Parliament both the ANP and MQM relished and played their part to the hilt often threatening to quit when things didn’t go their way. Their participation has come at a hefty price. Action against extremists and tacit approval of Drone attacks has provoked the enmity and ire of the invisible but formidable Tehreek-e-Taliban. The TTP are not on the ballot papers but are determined to make their destructive presence felt. For them it is payback time. The three Parties who cobbled up a coalition in the last government and toed the line of the US in the War on Terror are branded as ‘Secular’, a dirty word in the eyes of extremists. The Urdu translation of the word reads as ‘La Deen’ (without religion)! This is often construed and widely confused with Atheism.

In reality none of these political parties (or any one in Pakistan for that matter) can ever be ‘la deen’. Some are ‘more deen’, some ‘less deen’, some ‘more or less deen’ but nobody (God forbid) is ever ‘without deen’. We are not the citadel of Islam for nothing. The TTP, however have no interest in semantics — or parliamentary democracy and elections — both of which they dismiss as un-Islamic. But they do have a strategy of trying to control the ballots with the only means they know: bullets and bombs.

In sharp contrast to the Punjab where election activity is progressing smoothly, scores of party supporters, Candidates, bystanders including children have been killed and maimed in KP and Sindh causing fear and doubts over the ‘impartiality’ of the election. Many view this alarming development as a well-conceived and sinister conspiracy to ensure that only the ‘Right’ sort of people get into Parliament. The idea is to frighten and anger these Parties into doing something reckless like a boycott of the elections.

Their absence would then pave the way for other Parties to sneak into the National Assembly and engineer an Islamic ‘Revolution’ from within. So far, this strategy is not working. The supposedly ‘La Deens’ may be down but they refuse to be out. They also have traditional vote banks, organized cadres, and armed supporters. Ironically all three parties have often been at loggerheads protecting their lucrative interests and fiefdoms in Karachi. Now they have a common enemy, but one that is faceless and hard to pin down.

Then there is the vast expanse of the province of Baluchistan. It is sparsely populated, rich in untapped mineral wealth, under developed and poorly governed. Historically many of the fiercely independent-minded tribal Sardars have had a love-hate relationship with the central government and the establishment. Sometimes they are given carrots, sometimes the stick. Of late there has been more stick than carrot. A long-standing battle between ubiquitous state ‘Agencies’ and ‘Insurgents’ believed to be funded by a ‘foreign hand’ is still underway. In addition, the province has been racked with killings of an ethnic and religious minority, the Hazara Shia.

Baluchistan is on the proverbial knife-edge, its electoral politics fluid and often confusing. In past elections, coalitions have been stitched-up with interference from the Centre. This time round, the Baluch National Party are participating. Were they to sweep the polls, their stated positions for maximum political autonomy would be unstoppable. A decisive mandate in Baluchistan for any one Party would be a welcome boon for the province in terms of good governance. In the last Provincial Assembly, out of sixty-five members there were as many as 49 Ministers! Three were without portfolio as there were
no government departments left to run!

Finally, we have ‘elections’ in the Republic of Facebookistan. This is the green and pleasant land of the Pakistani diaspora, armchair activists and drawing-room democrats who direct and control events in a mythical homeland from the security of their Laptops and iPads. By and large they are a well-meaning and patriotic lot who nurture fantasies of returning to Pakistan when it becomes an Islamic, Democratic, Social Welfare State on the lines of Scandinavia, or the United Kingdom. Some even voice their preference for a Presidential system. They would safely be ignored by most political parties but for the fact that that they also have hefty pocketbooks. The Election Commission has promised
them a vote but it hasn’t materialized yet.

Recently, Facebookistanis had a rude shock when one of their prime candidates, the ‘comeback kid’ was booted out from the electoral process, charged, arrested and disbarred for life. And this after he had garnered hundreds of thousands of ‘likes’on his Facebook page! Obviously, the perpetrators of these dark deeds are computer-illiterate with scant appreciation of how Facebook’s ‘like’ option works. Status after Status was changed hourly to reflect their protest but to no avail. As one peroxide-blonde aptly commented: ‘how can there be a General Election if a General cannot participate?’ The hopes of the Facebookistanis now rest firmly on the batting prowess of the other favourite Son. He’s playing well but whether he can reach the magical number of 172 needed to win is a moot point.

Predicting electoral outcomes as Karl Rove of Fox News will confirm is a very tricky business and can land one with considerable egg on the face. Doubly so in Pakistan. Who would have thought in 2008 that the King’s Party would finish a distant third? Or that the Chairman of the PPP would be elected President. Or that his predecessor would be jailed.
In the mercurial world of Pakistan politics, one must always expect the unexpected. Zeroes often become Heroes. And vice versa. Perplexing no? All will be revealed on May 11. As Larry King would say ‘Don’t go away’!

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13 Responses to "Elections 2013: A guide for the perplexed"

  1. sunny Germany Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    No matter who wins “elections” in Pakistan … hating India, hindus and jews and deceiving USA and bootlicking arabs, turks and China will continue in the same jingoist manner. Some may do it less, some may do it more. But no real difference.

    In Bangladesh the fascist muslims (agents and quislings of arab imperialism and islamic fascism) have already started a civil war – with help/instigation from Pakistan.

    -
    Almost 2 billion human beings live in the indian subcontinent. Islam (invented in Makkah, not in the indian subcontinent) will cause the bloodshed or the fascistic suppression of most of them in the coming years.

    Muslims in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India will join hands to cause this. Muslim preparations for a civil war are well ahead helped with arab money and deadly weapons.

  2. tajender United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    The irony of the matter is that the history that common Pakistanis have shared with the ruling elite is one of humiliation, suppression, deceit, deprivations, poverty, rhetoric, sentimental and religiously symbolic manipulations and outright lying and looting. The fact of the matter is that common citizens of Pakistan in bygone days were much better off in every aspect of life than are the common citizens of democratic Pakistan in 2013.

    What good is this democracy in which the national political leaders steal and plunder national wealth? What good is this democracy that multiplies common citizens’ deprivations and increases and accelerates the nation’s poverty? What good is this democracy where state institutions fail? What good is this democracy where death squads massacre common people indiscriminately and foreign drones rain lethal fire from the sky? What good is this democracy where even safe drinking water is not available for the majority of its citizens? What good is this democracy and its leadership who do not even have a clue as to what democracy is all about?

    “The question is, how do we move beyond this latent resentment at a history we cannot change, and start making better memories,” asked a brilliant political visionary.

    Change, fundamental change, in the political structure and political leadership is the only viable choice that Pakistani citizens have. Nothing less will work for this country NOW!

    In the ARY News TV talk show “Sawal Yeh Hai” of April 14th, Dr. Qadri summed up the entire present-day Pakistani leadership problematic and failure with explosive evidence, demanded strict accountability of political leadership, and concluded by stating that Pakistan will have to send 10,000 politicians and bureaucrats to jail to survive and enact a fundamental change in its political culture and political structure.

    How many of you disagree with Dr. Qadri’s conclusion?

    Vote for change IF elections are at all held on May 11th!

    Your national destiny is at a crossroads!!

  3. shimr choudhary United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Muslim preparations for a civil war are well ahead helped with arab money and deadly weapons.

    har waqt gnd phatee rahtee hai

  4. Rex Minor Germany Google Chrome Windows says:

    Tajender,

    Well said! Th only remedy for the developing Nations who have suffered colonisation is to have the strategy for eliminating the poverty in their midst, improve the quality of life for the old and to raise the standard of living of the middle class. China appears to be the only country in the world outside Europe, which has successfuly implemented the social market econonmy system. The commune(ism)plus capital(ism) placed them naturaly on this path after the indepenence of Hong Kong.

    They are fast becoming the most advanced and powerful country of the world. Pakistan leadership because of their friendly relations with China over a long period has the possibility to review and paticipate in chinese entrepreneurial projects.

    Rex Minor

  5. tajender United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    maggu enjoy and comment today is good day,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsrxvpbrAuw&feature=endscreen&NR=1

  6. kaalchakra United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Pakistan election is a satire. Niazi will ultimately take over the rein and make friends with the talibanis. India should not be worried, as India is busy with the Chinese.

    @ Rex

    I am breaking a news

    I am Pakistani and Muslim, whatever I said before posing as a born Hindu is false and void

    @Taj

    Bro, Bada ho jaa bhai

  7. tajender United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    http://ca.mc1147.mail.yahoo.com/mc/welcome?.tm=1332084247#_pg=showMessage&sMid=22&&filterBy=&.rand=1727553276&midIndex=22&mid=2_0_0_1_65087

    rex maggu and kaal bhai.

  8. tajender United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    the above is not my mail.

  9. tajender United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    ki,They will not work with Vinoba Bhave in distributing land among landless peasants – Bhoodan. They will not work with Gandhi in Harijan (Dalit) Wasti cleaning toilets early in the morning. They will not work like many educationists who opened schools in rural areas and slums of India

    gandhi was killed like street dog by a chitpavan brhmn.vinoba bhave was a fraud.now eith the many trusts u have occupied most of land of india.dalits got nothing.now rich scam operators who are usually or brhmns are purchasing most of the land.nobody remember him anymore biggest mascare of muslims occured in land of vinoba bhave and ghandhi.
    u have not produced any educationist.we have far better educationists than u.
    regarding gandhi if u wantn to know correctly,

    read

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2172967/Indian-government-spends-700-000-buy-letters-prove-national-hero-Gandhi-gay.html#ixzz20ZEVC5dD

    chutia banana tum logon ka purana pesha hai.3000 years of vedic period was dark period.give me the name of hospitan or scholl opened by you people.land was belonging to temples and women was also for them.

    kyon aate ho apni dhoti khulwane.

  10. tajender United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    You are drinking it as zumzum cola

    i think u are talking of GANGA JAL.HALF THE KANPUR YPUTH DECENTRY TO CANCER.THOUGH IT COME FROM MUNICIPALITY AFTER CLEANING.

  11. tajender United Arab Emirates Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    chikna mai bhi kanpur ke pass ka hoon.murdaghat kee wajah se paani puree tarah se polluted and dirty.lacs of half burnt bodies which are eaten by vultures and dogs are polluting envoirment.i know many people who have stomach desease.
    waise up itna gunda ho gaya kee safai ho jay to log beemar hon jainge.my 1 sister of stomach cancer there.during muslim and british rule these places were heaven.

  12. tajender United Arab Emirates Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    chickney aaj tum logon kee jam ke maree gayee hai karnataka elections mein.kanpurkee yaad dilai hai to suno,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=2bpXGejchKY&NR=1

  13. tajender United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    GORAKHnath ki kriya samaz kar ke karo.gorakhnath ne apni ma se marriage kee thee..vashishton kee history yahee hai.
    tum logon ne india kee sari rivers pollute kar chod dee hain.sare jungle almost kat dale hain.

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