A Letter from Prometheus
Chattering about early general elections is of course consolidating the demands of former prime minister Imran Khan who still looks like the most fortunate person in the history of Pakistan because whatever he says, angels come down on earth to follow his instructions.
There is a strong group within Pakistan that actually dislikes if not hates the parliamentary system and the 1973 constitution. Having an exceptional power of maneuverability, a bible in the hand of political tricks, and a cyclostyled sheet of allegations of being corrupt and causing economic meltdown in their hands against politicians, this group does sleep ever. The political activism of non-political groups we have already seen during the last tenure of PPP and PML(N) rule is one of the ingredients of the recipe to write the political governments out of the operations. Soon political parties will feel fatigued and would be ready for early elections though the parliamentary committee of the multiparty government had decided to stay in power till the expiry of the current tenure of the National Assembly in August 2023.
The country that was handed over to a multiparty government is already on the verge of a financial collapse that was intentionally or unintentionally engineered by the PTI government during its 42 months of rule.
Background conversations with politicians in Parliament House confirm that the PML(N) and JUI (F) are in favor of early elections but other allied parties like the BAP, ANP, MQM, and PPP are of the view that early elections would be disastrous for the country without going through electoral reforms, without holding new census, without completing the strength of the Election Commission of Pakistan, all after taking Pakistan out of the economic death cell where the PTI left it one and a half months ago.
Political parties do not feel a threat from the public meetings former Prime Minister Imran Khan is holding but the establishment looks erratic, because it is the prime target of his indecent, unfounded, and self-assumed allegations and he wants to come into power at any cost to appoint the next Chief of the Pakistan Army which is due in November but the announcement would be around September or so.
I believe Imran Khan, who said that families of military men would march with him to Islamabad, is still pampered and protected by many who crafted him as the cleanest man, uncorrupted, anti-Parliament, anti-Constitution, and readily available statesman: an investment of over 11 years must not go down the drain indeed.
I personally believe that a multiparty government must complete the tenure of this assembly while sitting in power because any early elections would further increase the social, economic, and political polarization that has been injected by Imran Khan. However, I have some serious fears. Since Imran Khan has been and is still a blue-eyed boy of many, therefore fulfilling his desires is the foremost duty of those who pampered him for years, so early elections would be another pre-election engineering as he is pulling crowds now but we know this is not sustainable for a long period.
The first important issue is holding a new census which is the must requirement for delimitation of constituencies. Almost all political parties of Sindh believe that a new census that is due in 2022 would be held and then the delimitation process would start without further delay. Urban and rural division is a very important issue for Sindh and urban parties know that delimitation after the census would increase urban seats in the Provincial as well as in the National Assembly.
If we talk about the political impact of the announcement of early elections, the foremost issue is that will Imran Khan accept the election results if he fails to get a two-thirds majority?
Moreover, the ECP is presently without full representation of provinces. Former Prime Minister Imran Khan deliberately did not fill seats from Punjab and KPK where he had provincial governments, and the reason was to keep ECP as a controversial body to mitigate the adverse impact of the Foreign Funding Case that was under hearing for eight years and which Imran Khan used all available techniques to delay. If the decision comes against him, he would say that ECP is a half operational body and he does not accept the decision of a body that is not fully operational.
Moreover, the PTI has already decided to go against Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja in the Supreme Judicial Council, claiming he has biases against the PTI. Imran Khan wants a new ECP and a new CEC.
Without this, he would not accept any election results unless he would get a two-thirds majority. We have already seen that Imran Khan believes only in what gives him fruits. For him everything like ECP, Judiciary, Army, Constitution, and Parliament are useful if they go in his favour, otherwise they all are conspirators against him. He had gone on head-on-collision with the chief of the Pakistan Army because Imran said the COAS refused to help him against “international conspiracy” and then he is continuously building the narrative through his team that the COAS was also an indigenous part of a conspiracy against him.
Another very important issue is holding elections without going through to Electoral Reforms. Controversial steps taken by the previous PTI government are unacceptable for all political parties except the PTI. The electronic Voting Machine (EVM) system is one of the core points of controversy. The ECP had categorically said that it would not hold general elections through Electronic Voting Machine unless dozens of flaws found in testing were not rectified before their usage in the next elections. The ECP in November 2021 accused the PTI of bullying it and rushing the process of floating tenders to acquire electronic voting machines (EVMs) without following procedures.
Another point raised by the ECP was the technical issues related to the overseas voting process and Overseas Voting Technical Committee was formed to review the technical glitches. We must remember that the ECP is an independent constitutional institution that carries out its duties within the constitutional framework.
I consider voting rights for Overseas Pakistanis who have attained dual nationalities to be unjustified. They send remittances to their families for their bread and butter, not to the state to run the country. They are loyal to the rules of the countries where they live and they have taken the oath of allegiance of the Queen and American Constitution if they will in Europe and North America.
Giving voting rights to overseas Pakistan would bring an actual “imported regime” because over 50 constituencies of the country including over 20 from central Punjab would be affected by this decision. We have recently seen that a Pakistani-American delegation visited Israel last week to promote Israeli-Pakistani relations. Such groups would be in a better position to manipulate the decisions of political parties of their choice because they would be their voters.
If we talk about the political impact of the announcement of early elections, the foremost issue is that will Imran Khan accept the election results if he fails to get a two-thirds majority? I think he would never.
He has already shown his no-confidence over ECP, and the Pakistan Army, and even his criticisms of the superior judiciary are on record. He does not trust CEC Sikandar Sultan, he alleges COAS was part of a conspiracy against him and he left ECP a half operational body. Will any election that is held with the current strength of ECP under the current CEC and under the current COAS be acceptable for Imran Khan? Not likely.