An exercise in mutual destruction

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PML-N and PTI should find a way to work together

The outcome of the counting of ballots and the inspection of the polling bags in NA-122 has led PML-N and PTI to reach contradictory conclusions that support the positions earlier taken by them. Both should have waited for the verdict of the election tribunal which is due in the next few day.

There is no doubt about large scale irregularities having taken place during the voting in the constituency. The discovery of thousands of counterfoils bearing neither the signatures nor stamps of the presiding officers was one. The absence of Forms 14 and 15 which show record of votes from dozens of bags was another. While this constitutes an evidence of large scale complicity in rigging on the part of the election staff, the bogus votes did not affect the outcome of the polls in the constituency as they were not counted. But is evidence found in one constituency or a handful of constituencies sufficient to challenge the authenticity of the entire elections, duly approved by respectable international organisations? Influential candidates, irrespective of whether they belong to the ruling party or opposition, manage to indulge in malpractices in Pakistan. What is needed is to devise ways and means to stop their occurrence in the next elections rather than issuing calls for agitation. The way Ayaz Sadiq exhausted all legal measures to block the audit was nevertheless bound to cause suspicions.

The government being the custodian of the system is supposed to play the primary role in resolving the dispute that threatens to bring down both the administration and the system. It is required to resolve the issue with the PTI through a more flexible approach than resorting to point scoring or browbeating the PTI leader which can cause further bitterness and pave way for confrontation. Imran Khan being a national leader is also expected to act like a statesman who cares more for the system than for the narrow party interests. Many would like to see him joining the ongoing exercise in electoral reforms instead of returning to his container.