CITY NOTES: Adding insult to injury

By ordering a re-poll in NA-75, the Election Commission has merely added insult to injury. For some reason, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is under the misconception that the governing party does not have the right to do whatever it wants in a by-election.

Whatever may happen in a general election, oone of the privileges of office is victory in by-elections. That grand truth, that bedrock of received wisdom, is supposed to inform the actions of all the officials of the state, including those schoolteachers, who – as the government so poetically put it – got lost in the fog. I suppose there’s some fog about, even though there shouldn’t be now. And it is somewhat moot if we want polling staff manned by people who can’t navigate a bit of fog.

So I suppose it’s Nawaz Sharif’s fault, as usual, for having employed schoolteachers in violation of merit, and probably on the recommendation of the man whose death caused the by-election in the first place, Syed Iftikharul Hasan Shah of the Pakistan Mulism League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Not being able to navigate a fog is as proverbial as not being able to fight one’s way out of a paper bag, which is something I’m not sure the average presiding officer would be good at. The ECP does seem to have gone too far by summoning such august personages as the IGP and the Chief Secretary. Might as well tear down the rest of the fabric of society, and summon the Station Commander of Sialkot Cantt. Not the Div Commander, though. Even the chief election commissioner (CEC) must have some limits, mustn’t he?

The re-polling in the whole constituency means that all you need to do is fire a little. In the good old days, to get a poll countermanded, you had to kill a candidate. Now, it seems, all you have to do is fire in the air. Thst lends credence to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) theory that Nawaz snuck into country from UK, fired off a few rounds, and then hared back to the UK.

Of course, not all PTI workers believe that. They believe that it was Shehbaz who did the firing, which he managed despite being in jail (from which he had been let out by someone he had recruited as CM).

Shehbaz must be torn by the by-election. As a PML-N leader he would be happy that his party had won, but as a former CM, he must be sad to see the erosion of his office. While he was CM, you didn’t catch any lapse during by-elections.

Even if the PTI wins the constituency, Buzdar should be asked to do the honourable thing, and fall on his sword. I mean, if he had done what a CM is supposed to, and win the first time, there wouldn’t have been any of this re-polling nonsense. With the Senate elections around the corner, it was all the more important that a strong signal was sent. Now there are doubts being expressed about the ‘same-page’ situation. That can only create doubts in minds that shouldn’t have them.

Of course, Imran didn’t want the Daska election rigged. After all, he had hoped that the electors of the constituency would vote in droves for his knight in shining armour, only the people on ground seemed to know that there was too deep a penetration of those corrupt elements who had not built a cancer hospital nor won a World Cup for Pakistan. Only they seem to have gone too far for the Election Commission to go along with events, it appears.

And the situation could not be handled properly, because Imran was in Sri Lanka, where he was not allowed to address its Parliament. That was perhaps because he insisted that his speech would tell the home truths about Kashmir that they were supposed to hear. Sir Lanka’s have a Senate, so it won’t know the headaches he’s having, especially as the Supreme Court hasn’t allowed the jettisoning of te secret ballot.

During te heyday of the USSR, they had elections and under secret ballot. The secret ballot in favour of the party was sealed in an envelope and handed to the voter when he came in to cast his ballot. He then cast it. If ge wished to vote against the party’s candidate, he could ask for a fresh, unmarked ballot, which he then took to a polling booth where he secretly marked it, and came out and cast it. He would later be arrested by the KGB. Now that’s how you ensure both secrecy of the ballot and a proper exercise of the vote.

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