The just so elections

  • Entering a house of wonders

Candidates changing party loyalties before the polls at a level never witnessed before is one of the several hall marks of Elections 2018. Change of heart among scores of candidates, in cases occurring within days of getting the party ticket and after having started the election campaign, could have been induced only through witchcraft. Some of the practitioners of the art were named by a former PPP Senator while a sitting PML-N Senator said he too could identify others. Their statements were not disputed. Let sleeping dogs lie.

Never before so many extremist and banned outfits were dry cleaned and pushed into the elections like reserves badly needed in the battlefield. That this should happen when the FATF was breathing down the country’s neck was all the more surprising. A liberal independent candidate from Karachi canvassing on rights-based issues and his supporters were consistently targeted through hate speech by an extremist network. Mobs were excited to stop him from canvasing. The administration just looked the other way. See no evil, hear no evil.

Days before the elections the ECP learnt that the names of three candidates of a banned outfit, presumably cleared by the interior ministry, are included in the United Nations’ terror watch list. Interior Ministry failed to turn up at the Commission’s hearing. It was deemed too late to stop them from contesting. The case was adjourned till a month after elections.

Who had ever heard a senior High Court judge making dramatic allegations about institutions, including his own? It was for the first time that an insider had accused elements influencing court decisions, particularly related to Nawaz Sharif’s case and Elections 2018. It is for him now to be judged by his institution.

Another surprise. The media which relays news about others was to become itself a subject of news. There were however positive developments also.

It was again a first to hear so many voters spread all over the country confronting political leaders and asking them to explain their achievements before asking for votes. This happened not only in big cities but also in constituencies dominated by feudal potentates.