NationalVOLUME 19 ISSUE # 14

Utter chaos in Pakistan

Pakistan is in deadly chaos, and tragically, this chaos has been caused by the ruling elite. This chaos is not a product of nature. Rather, it is a result of all anti-democratic and anti-people policies formed by rapacious politicians and the avaricious business class. Lust for power has made the ruling elite blind, which has dragged the country towards utter collapse. No lesson has been learned from the fall of East Pakistan. The repetition of a mistake becomes a fate, a tragic incident in history. Almost all the people of Pakistan have become hopeless and frustrated after the elections. The people of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh are already protesting against the alleged rigging in the elections of February 8.

The people’s trust in institutions, catchy ideologies, and faith has gone, or rather evaporated, after the elections. It should not be wrong to say that the entire nation of Pakistan and the world media believe that the elections were rigged and controlled by powerful managers.

Rawalpindi commissioner Liaquat Ali Chattha’s revelations have strengthened the belief of the people that all the institutions, including the ECP, judiciary, and police, have managed the elections. These institutions have deprived the people of Pakistan of their right to vote and select their leadership.

Speaking to reporters, Chatha said, “I am taking responsibility for all this wrongdoing.” He said that the chief election commissioner and a top judge of the Supreme Court were “involved in this”. “We made independent candidates — who had leads of 70,000-80,000 votes — lose by putting on fake stamps”. When asked if there were “irregularities” in the electoral process, Chatha said that “‘irregularities’ is a minor word for it”. The commissioner further said that “stabbing the country in its back” does not let him sleep. “I should be punished for the injustice I have done and others who were involved in this injustice should also be punished,” he added. Chatha said there was “pressure” on him to the extent that he contemplated suicide in the morning but then resolved to present matters before the public. “It is my request to the entire bureaucracy to not do anything wrong for all these political people,” he added. Separately, he said in a handwritten letter that he was resigning from his “post and service” as he was “deeply involved in a serious crime of mega election rigging”.

About this bombshell revelations, Dawn writes: “A commissioner is no ordinary officer. They are some of the most powerful bureaucrats in service, handpicked by the state to oversee entire administrative divisions. By virtue of their position, they exercise immense power and influence over the machinery of the state. It is, therefore, no surprise that Mr Chattha’s ‘confession’ has caused quite a storm. It has been widely extolled as an example of a bureaucrat resisting pressures from powerful quarters and choosing to stand on the right side of history. The claims he has made cannot be dismissed; at the same time, however, one must exercise increased prudence during times of growing uncertainty. These elections will be remembered as perhaps the most controversial electoral exercise held in the last few decades. The credit for this unforgettable ignominy will accrue mainly to the ECP, which, despite being empowered by the law in every possible manner to conduct “free, fair, impartial and inclusive’” polls, betrayed its mandate in the worst possible way. Its failure to ensure transparency in the vote-counting process, in particular, has caused unaffordable chaos, with multiple stakeholders now unwilling to accept the results given how stark the irregularities seem. Instead of addressing the public’s apprehensions or assuring them that issues in results tabulation will be promptly looked into, the ECP has chosen to stay mum. Now, much more serious allegations are being levelled against senior officials of the state. The commission must wake up. Its silence is causing irreparable harm.”

Pakistan is already facing many gigantic security challenges from the TTP and many other extremist groups. Prior to the elections, extremist terrorists and Baloch insurgents increased their attacks to derail the democratic process. Some 36 out of 63 reported terrorist attacks from February 1 to February 9 were directly related to election violence.

Security analyst Muhammad Amir Rana has written, “It was alarming that just after the polls, the TTP issued a statement addressing the JUI-F and Jamaat-i-Islami to say that the manipulated democratic system would not allow religious parties to come to power. The right path, according to them, was to join their ranks to topple the system and bring a Taliban-style system to the country. While the TTP’s stance is not new and does not likely inspire the religious parties’ leadership, their statement fuels the ongoing discourse on the country’s power elites. Baloch insurgents share similar views, asserting that the manipulated electoral process will not heal the Baloch people’s wounds. At this juncture in history, Pakistan needed the most transparent elections ever held to restore the people’s faith in the system. Some speculate that the poll managers were following a different template, where parties and individuals showing resistance to the status quo were deemed unacceptable…the perception is deepening in Balochistan, where nationalist parties have become alienated, targeted by insurgents, and victims of the poll managers’ manipulations. Malik Siraj, a US-based journalist, has analysed the state’s approach in Balochistan well. He describes how the caretaker government brought the province back to the Musharraf era, when Baloch alienation peaked. He argues that the situation will aggravate if someone like Sarfraz Bugti, who shares that mindset, is brought to power in the province. “This would erode the confidence the previous government had tried to rebuild. It is now clear that a politician who sensed the changing political winds was Maulana Fazlur Rehman. He has skillfully managed to break the ice with his long-time nemesis, but the longevity of this relationship remains to be determined. Should the incoming government make a tempting offer, he might readily join it. Conversely, he continues to play the anti-establishment card. In that case, any alliance with the establishment would entail higher costs than the benefits of shared power at the centre and in Balochistan”.

Pakistan needs a true democratic culture and system, which comes from education, equality, morality, the rule of law, and true love for the country and its people. In the near future, these objectives cannot be achieved. Thus, Pakistan will move rapidly towards anarchy.