Elections must be seen to be fair and free

  • No game with a loaded dice, please

The worries expressed in a Pildat Report about the pre-election process which it calls unfair are shared by quite a few people. There is a perception that influential institutions have given up neutrality in the run up to the elections. The parliamentary coup in Balochistan, Senate elections throwing up an unknown entity as its chairman and defections from South Punjab all contribute to an apprehension of political engineering by a master planner. The way a major media house was made to take an about turn through visible pressures and that suddenly most media houses developed a near uniform tilt in election related reporting and comments further exacerbates one’s worries about the fairness of the elections. The expectation of private media’s freedom from the influence of state institutions and vested interests has also suffered a setback.

The CJ has promised free, fair and timely elections on several occasions. Article 224 of the Constitution calls for holding of the general elections within a period of sixty days immediately following the day on which the term of the Assembly expires. In other words the exercise has to be held by July 31 in any case. Despite the constitutional provisions, there are calls for postponement from a category of politicians. Islamabad High Court has meanwhile set aside the delimitation of constituencies in four districts, reserved decision on the constituencies of five other districts and will now take up another 31 petitions regarding delimitation on Thursday. This raises doubts about the elections being held on time.

Will the elections be peaceful? Secretary ECP told a Senate committee that there was a possibility of attempts at international level to sabotage the upcoming polls. He does not rule out attacks of the sort that took place during 2013 elections. There is a need on the part of all organs of state to ensure that the elections are widely seen as free and fair, timely and peaceful. Any semblance of foul play would hurt the image of those who are supposed to ensure this.


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