It’s the weekend before the elections and we have still somehow not decided who is eligible to contest the polls and who is not. The decision in the Hanif Abbasi Ephedrine case was reserved once again and there was much fanfare surrounding the final climax of the ugly episode surrounding the man that gave Imran Khan a serious run for his money in 2013’s election in Islamabad’s NA-56.
The decision on Abbasi aside, the near-rabid scrutiny of league leaders has become a pattern of this election and the timing is making no difference. For all we know, the courts might just decide to have a crack at a couple other candidates on Tuesday just to really stir the pot.
League leader after league leader has been shown the door by the judiciary while their opponents received clean chits that they now wear like prize medals.
The judiciary is just one avenue that some parties are having to face. On Friday, it had been the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) senators that had come out swinging against the caretaker setup and caretaker Punjab CM Hassan Askari in particular.
Now, former Senate Chairman Raza Rabanni has also chastised the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), and caretakers over ‘irregularities’ in the run-up to election day. Rabbani made a point to question the caretakers’ deafening silence regarding the deployment of army personnel inside polling stations and ECP’s silence over the victimisation of two political parties in particular.
What is interesting about these elections is that while certain forces are making very obvious attempts to steer things in a certain direction, those being cheated are not grinding their teeth and sitting by passively. If one side is getting up in their face, they’re getting right back up in theirs instead of being forced into turning the other cheek.
This narrative has seeped into other sections and institutions. Justice Siddiqi of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), for example, was far from muted in his second tirade against the country’s intelligence agencies in as many days.
“50 per cent of the responsibility for Pakistan’s current situation lies with the judiciary while other institutions are responsible for the rest,” he thundered. Such things have never been said so openly before. This is all so, to use the legal term, unprecedented.
Speaking of steering things in certain directions, the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) is coming up as a serious contender in the province and is expected to do well. They have released flashy looking ads on television and have already lost a party leader in a second attack that targeted them on Saturday.
The sudden emergence of this adds another layer to an already complex dish that has been cooking in the wake of this election. It is pertinent to remember how the PML-N was dethroned in that province in the last few months of this government’s cycle. Was it a sign of warning regarding what was going to come on the larger scale?
Back then a rumour had floated regarding an informal meeting in which a journalist had apparently asked former prime minister (PM) Abbasi what he thought of journalists being abducted.
The PM had apparently answered in jest, saying that the journalist was talking of a few journalists while their entire assembly had been abducted.