It is for the first time in the checkered political history of Pakistan that a party in power is losing by-elections and yet being blamed for rigging. It clearly shows that the game is being played without an umpire, and no one seems to be in control. The situation in Sindh is clear, the PPP prevails, but in Punjab and now even KPK, the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) is losing its seats.
In the game of cricket, Imran Khan is known for introducing neutral umpires but that has not happened in the larger arena called the government. It now seems that the free and fair elections in 1970 were more of a fluke than a deliberate effort, but it did take place in the land of the pure. Since then there has been a slide down in every electoral contest. I have had the opportunity of interacting with all the provincial and the federal governments. While Azad Jammu and Kashmir stands out, Punjab is at the bottom when it comes to good governance and relief to the public. Chaos prevails in most departments, with no focus on the people.
Over the years the umpiring has been systematically weakened. There is no one to control the game. Despite being declared illegal aerial firing continues unabated. Roads, functions, celebrations, elections, no event can escape this menace. In the recently held elections in NA 75 constituency of Daska, automatic weapons were used for hours to scare away the voters despite high security alert. The Punjab Police was in charge, while the Rangers were there as a back-up.
Bullet and ballot cannot coexist. When the first shot was fired, the election should have been cancelled. The gunmen kept roaming the streets, shots were fired, two political workers lost their lives, while several were injured. Movies were being made as if film-making was the intent of the exercise. There was no one to stop the madness. The umpires had abandoned the game.
First umpires have to take the field followed by the neutral ones which now have become a rare entity. The message should be loud and clear, the umpires will be taken to task if the rules of the games are not followed. For the game to continue let us focus on effective umpiring instead of arming the players with lethal automatic weapons. For the game to continue, it is time to replace Gullu Butts with Aleem Dars, a much better sample of our Kashmiri population.
A few years back during a cricket test match at Lords, the Pakistan team in protest did not take the field after the tea break. Umpire Darrell Hair of Australia, followed the rules of ICC (International Cricket Council). He waited for the stipulated time and then declared the match forfeited. The Pakistan team protested as they were close to victory. First it was declared abandoned by the ICC and then awarded to the English team. It was extreme high-handedness but never the less, Pakistan team was the net loser. Rules must be understood and then followed, otherwise the game suffers. There are several such examples, in one of the World Soccer game finals played between traditional rivals France and Italy, French captain Zinedine Zidane lost his cool and head butted the taunting Italian forward. Foul was called by the referee, as a result Zidane had to leave the field. Without him the side lost and the Italians became the world champions. In high-stake contests, personal emotions have to be kept in control in order to carry the day.
The elections in 1970 were free and fair as the umpires were neutral. When the brief democratic era ended in July 1977, both the players and the umpires were corrupted. Without an iota doubt, the establishment created parties like the PML(N) and the MQM, which were allowed to manipulate the electoral process to contain the genuine political support of Bhutto’s People’s Party ably led by his daughter Benazir. While the MQM badmashi (gangsterism) in Sindh has been contained, the PML(N) influence runs deep in Punjab. Unfortunately despite the passage of over two years the umpiring has not been restored. When there is a conflict, the umpires are the first to abandon the field as if working in connivance with the badmashes (goons). In the August 2014 Long March, followed by the PTI dharna, the marchers came under attack at Gujranwala, the stronghold of the PML(N)’s Gullu Butts. It was through the personal intervention of Javed Hashmi that the march was allowed a safe passage otherwise it would have ended there. At that time, Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister and his younger brother the Chief Minister. Even till today these unscrupulous elements have not been disarmed.
The police force in Punjab should be either reformed or declared a corporate entity called ‘Police Incorporated’ as it is no longer a custodian of the people. Most other departments are infested with political hirees whose loyalty is not to the state. Interestingly while the area of Governor’s House Lahore is around 700 Acres, so is that of Jati Umra. My friend Chaudhry Sarwar accepts applications and complaints to be forwarded to the respective departments with no ultimate outcome, but by contrast, the Sharifs issue verbal orders on the spot, which are still carried out. When Maryam Safdar was called by NAB (National Accountability Bureau) for a hearing, she did not come with papers to defend her case, instead party workers were armed with appropriately sized stones to intimidate the Bureau, and since then there has been complete silence in the case. When her entourage departed from the Jati Umra Estate, there was no one to stop or check the lethal load they were carrying.
There has been significant improvement in the record-burning infernos. Either most public record has already been destroyed or the security has been enhanced. The firefighters of the city must be relaxed as they are not called upon to put out fires to cover up evidence of the wrongdoings of the last 40 years. As an institution, only the Armed Forces remain intact which has now come under attack by their own political creations. Most civilian institutions have to be rebuilt to restore the writ of the state.
First umpires have to take the field followed by the neutral ones which now have become a rare entity. The message should be loud and clear, the umpires will be taken to task if the rules of the games are not followed. For the game to continue let us focus on effective umpiring instead of arming the players with lethal automatic weapons. For the game to continue, it is time to replace the Gullu Butts with Aleem Dars, a much better sample of our Kashmiri population.