If there is agreement on anything, it is that the polls must take place on time. Whether it is a relic of a disturbed past or a genuine concern, there have been whispers of the elections being delayed well before the caretakers took over.
Some had suggested that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi dissolve the assembly a day before its term ended so that the caretakers would have a full three months to make arrangements. When that did not happen, caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk was made to say again and again that the polls would be held on time. And then, just for good measure, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar decided to step and say that he would make sure that the elections are held on July 25.
We now have less than ten days to go until the voting starts and everyone still seems to be sweating a little over whether there is going to be a delay or not. On his visit to Quetta, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said that the Mastung blast is a conspiracy to delay the polls. Words like conspiracy are big with the PTI chief, but he does have it partially right because the terrorists will want to create chaos and that is exactly what postponing the democratic process would do right now.
And while there has been resolve in the face of Mastung, one also hopes that we can rise above silly notions in such situations and keep our discourse mature. As PTI’s Salman Ahmed displayed with a callous tweet, in which he portrayed the carnage at Mastung as some great sacrifice instead of the senseless act of violence that it was, there are still out there that would play politics on dead bodies. Thankfully that has not been the norm.
One politician that has come out looking good in the past few days is Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. He joined Imran Khan yesterday in insisting that the elections must take place on time, but his seemed a stand of taking the higher ground more than anything else. He got a particularly good sound bite in that has been making the rounds on social media. When a reporter asked him when he would continue his election campaign, Bilawal seemed genuinely astounded. He said, “130 people are dead. Maybe a politician would get back to campaigning right away but I am sorry I cannot do that. I cannot chant slogans to the beat of ‘dila teer bija’ while my fellow countrymen lie dead.”
Politically speaking, that was the correct answer, so to speak. But what made it really hit home was that it appeared to have come from genuine emotion.
Speaking of Mastung, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) would do well to have its leadership spend some time there. True, it is late, but they were otherwise occupied. It would be good form and the right thing for them to do.