- Will Pakistan always have to spill blood in order to ensure elections?
Election, in any country, is considered to be a much awaited event by virtue of which a new leadership can be given the keys to power. Or even the old ones get the blessings to continue. Either way, it is one of those few instances when the people get to speak. In fact the only time when, in a free and fair election, only the people choose what’s best for their country.
Pakistan like others is all charged up in anticipation of the upcoming elections. Every citizen of the country is active during the election season. Intricate analysis, heated arguments and high political stakes coupled with startling developments are enough to keep the citizenry pre-occupied.
What would be a smooth season otherwise turns out to be disturbingly violent. Though we in Punjab don’t feel the heat as long as the violence remains miles away from home. The three elections that I have witnessed as a grown-up have never been smooth or peaceful. Polling day aside, the build up to the elections has been marred with barbarity all three times.
2008 elections were tainted with the blood of Benazir Bhutto. Her blood which is considered as the spilling of democracy’s blood turned the tide of politics within Pakistan. 2013 further took its toll on the Bilour family with the brutal killing of Bashir Bilour. A few months following that Sanaullah Zehri came under attack in Balochistan. Though Zehri himself survived, his son closed his eyes forever. Mir Sikander Zehri, a friend from school days, was martyred in a targeted bomb blast whilst on the road campaigning for his father. Other isolated incidents throughout both these elections also witnessed blood being spilt however, they didn’t receive much coverage.
Fast forward to the on-going elections and we have our fair share of violence. Just this last week witnessed unprecedented levels of terror attacks in KPK and Balochistan. The ill-fated Bilour family sacrificed another one of their warriors to the elections. Bashir Bilour’s son, Haroon Bilour, took the fall this time and was martyred along with his companions whilst entering a corner meeting.
The Bilour family alone has injected its blood into the veins of democracy in Pakistan. Staunch believers of a democratic setup, the family has never backtracked from entering the polls in order to ensure the continuation of democracy. Daniyal Bilour, Haroon’s son, addressed the media a few hours after the deadly attack on his father and, courageously, reiterated the family’s resolve to stand fast in the fight against terror. His words had a chilling effect as they were the words of a person who had lost an entire lineage to a string of bomb blasts.
The Mastung attack wasn’t just an attack on Siraj Raisani. It was an attack on democracy in the country. A declaration from the enemies reminding us of their presence
As if Haroon Bilour wasn’t enough, the enemies of peace struck once again on Friday, the 13th of July. In a quest to silence Siraj Raisani forever, a malevolent bomber blew himself and crucified a hundred and twenty eight other families. Raisani succumbed to his injuries in an accomplished mission for the perpetrators, however, more than 100 hundred people also had the light fade away from their eyes.
In one of the deadliest attacks since the despicable APS attacks, people of Mastung endured more than they had ever thought of. A price Raisani and his followers paid for their evident patriotism.
Quite evidently, these attacks are an attempt to hinder the upcoming elections and derail the democratic process. But my question is slightly different. Will Pakistan always have to spill blood in order to ensure elections? How many Bilours, Raisanis and countless innocent civilians will we have to sacrifice before an election will be conducted peacefully? Has the National Action Plan achieved its purpose? Who is to blame for the security failures in the country especially during election season?
In 10 years since 2008, we have failed to ensure peace and stability during the caretaker setup. Since Punjab remains secure for now, a lot many people don’t seem to care. If certain parties and their candidates are targeted and the state fails to ensure their security, then a question mark on an impartial election would already be formed.
Even our media has different priorities. The entire day on Friday, it was more prudent for them to report how many times Nawaz Sharif wiped his nose during his flight. As opposed to the rivers of blood flowing in Mastung, the maneuvers and turbulence of EY 243 was more dominant. The people of Pakistan were even told how many steps Nawaz Sharif had taken from his seat to the door however, importance and coverage to the ill-fated of Mastung remained unheard of. Not once did we hear a journalist highlighting how such security lapses take a toll on the country and result in bloodshed.
Such priorities are not going to steer the country towards betterment. Rather we’ll remain in circles rotating around the same old. Nawaz’s journey from Avenfield to Adiala or Imran’s fiery speech at an election rally are immaterial when it comes to the loss of life. More than 100 hundred families have been spread apart in a single moment and all our media seems to care about is Nawaz waving his hand from the jet.
The Mastung attack wasn’t just an attack on Siraj Raisani. It was an attack on democracy in the country. A declaration from the enemies reminding us of their presence. Maybe if we were to shift our focus from the electioneering and focus rather diligently on the security situation maybe then we would have peace.
I pray for the people of this country to give importance to all attacks on the lives of the people equally irrespective of their geographical location. It would be a worthy sight to see the Mastung attack being given the same importance as an attack in Punjab would.
Ironically, the heads of regional spy agencies huddled only a few days before the attack in a bid to counter IS influence in the region and strategize accordingly. All the more reason for them to leap into action now.