Imran Khan needs to mature, politically
The PTI chief and the architect of the rigging saga, giving his reaction to the report of the Judicial Commission in regards to its terms of reference (TORs) said that he accepted the report but was saddened by the fact that the Commission left its job unfinished by not carrying out a more incisive and exhaustive probe into the rigging rigmarole. He repeated his claim that the elections were undoubtedly rigged through connivance between ECP, PML-N and the ROs, the notion categorically rejected by the JC in its findings. What all this meant was that the report was not acceptable to him though he perforce had to say publicly that he accepted it. To the impartial observes and the political analysts the assertions of Imran Khan are nothing but convulsions of a sore loser who after having agreed to the rules of the game and making commitment to accept the decisions of the referee, tries unsuccessfully to cover up for the embarrassment of the defeat by holding the referee responsible for it. This kind of conduct is akin to a mortified cat scratching the pole.
The report of the Commission unquestioningly is a perfect legal document that seems to have dwelt on all the issues exhaustively and drawn conclusions after careful and rational sifting of the chaff from the grain relying on cross-references and legal decisions and practices. It has given a very clear verdict on the allegations of PTI as enunciated in the TORs, which leave no room for wild and self-perceived interpretations or indulgence in surreal argumentations. But regrettably the PTI and some partisan elements within the media instead of focusing on the substantive findings of the Commission are using its observations regarding administrative and procedural lapses in the conduct of elections by the ECP — which in the final analysis were inconsequential in regards to the overall outcome of the elections — to foment haze over the credentials of the Commission as an impartial arbiter. This is being done notwithstanding the fact that the Commission was headed by the Chief Justice himself and Imran Khan had expressed unqualified faith in him and the Commission and given categorical commitment to accept the verdict without any qualms.
Imran’s reaction is also complete negation of the MoU signed between PML-N and PTI on the formation of the Judicial Commission for probing rigging allegations which unequivocally said that in case the Commission determined that the elections results did not reflect the true mandate of the people, the national and provincial assemblies would be dissolved and fresh general elections would be held. Otherwise, all the PTI allegations regarding veracity of the elections would stand withdrawn. Under this MoU acceptance of the report was binding on both the parties.
After the report of the Commission and the rejection of PTI allegations regarding rigging of elections, the honourable course for the party would have been to accept the findings without any scruples and look beyond its irrepressible obsession about rigging. Getting over the controversy and making a new beginning would have helped in mitigating the embarrassment caused to the party due to the findings of the Commission report as well as endeared it well to the masses besides removing the impression of PTI acting on behalf of the non-democratic forces to use the hoax of rigging to destabilise the sitting government.
The adoption of the contrary course by Imran Khan and continuing with his rhetoric about elections being rigged on the basis of his obsessions with the missing Form-15, printing of extra ballot papers and role of the ROs will neither help the cause of the party nor serve the national interests as far as strengthening of democracy and state institutions is concerned.
The conduct of Imran Khan is tantamount to casting aspersions on the institution of judiciary. It is pertinent to point out that the JC in its report has dealt with these issues at considerable length and concluded that no tangible and credible evidence was available or produced by PTI and other political parties to give credence to the notion of these factors having played a role in affecting the overall outcome of the elections. In regards to printing of extra ballot papers, the Commission has particularly mentioned that no evidence has been provided to suggest that the printing of extra ballot papers in any way benefited an individual candidate or party and that the practice of printing extra ballot papers was an established practice by the ECP.
Verdicts are not given by the judicial forums like the JC on the basis of conjectures or make-beliefs of individuals and parties on important and crucial issues like this. It requires solid and irrefutable evidence to draw its conclusions. According to the Commission all parties failed to substantiate the allegations on the basis of concrete evidence. Making the findings of the Commission controversial is the most despicable act of sophistry. The attempt by the PTI to keep the issue of rigging alive and denigrating the judiciary through unsavoury remarks does not augur well for the democratic polity, which seems re-enactment of the unenviable political wranglings of the past that pushed the country into the quick-sand that it finds itself stuck into.
The country simply cannot afford the continuation of this culture of political self-aggrandisement. The formidable challenges confronting the country demand political stability and concerted efforts on the part of the political entities to tackle them by firming up non-partisan and nationalistic responses. Any move to foment fissiparous tendencies and keeping the political pot boiling could be harmful to the national interests and the integrity of the country.
The observations of the JC about the administrative and procedural lapses in the conduct of elections and lack of coordination among different tiers of the electoral machinery, do provide a useful insight into the whole exercise and can be used to further improve transparency in the conduct of elections in the future as well as making them more credible by removing the pointed out shortcomings. For that electoral reforms are a must. There is a national consensus on this issue and the government has already formed a parliamentary committee tasked to make recommendations for improving the electoral system with the consensus of all the parties represented on the committee. The PTI instead of crying over the spilt milk and spoiling the entire show must now focus on playing its role in improving the electoral and governance systems as well as making contribution to dealing with the egregious challenges faced by the country.