LAHORE - Terrorism and corruption are the most serious problems facing Pakistan at present and can be grappled with the collective efforts of all political parties only, says a senior leader of the Awami National Party.
Shahi Syed, who is also a Senator, said in an interview to WAQTNEWS and The Nation here on Monday that no party could deal with the two menaces single-handedly.
As for terrorist activities in Karachi as a result of which killings have become order of the day, he said it could be the result of Pakistan’s interference in Kashmir. “If you throw stones at others, they will not reciprocate with bouquets”, he said, without naming India but leaving no doubt that the reaction was from that country.
Alleging that various mafias were at work in Karachi, the ANP leader said the situation could be brought under control by implementing the four-point solution given by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry: Across-the-board action against criminals, de-weaponisation, fresh delimitation of constituencies and depoliticisation of all institutions.
Senator Syed was not satisfied with the ongoing operation in Karachi as, according to him, people were being arrested and released on whims rather than solid proofs.
He cited the example of 70 ANP workers who were arrested one evening and set free the following day. Both the actions showed, he said, that there was no justification to first take them into custody and then release them without proper investigation. The ANP, he said, would not like the identity of any of its arrested workers concealed or their production in masks before the national media.
About the impartiality of the operation in Karachi, he said the DG Rangers was conducting it, but the police were not cooperating. He said there was lack of trust between various state institutions, a situation which was regrettable.
In response to a question, the ANP leader said even Jamaat-i-Islami workers were involved in extortion, although they were doing so by changing their identity.
Answering a question about the fairness of the May 11 general elections, the ANP leader said apparently the Chief Election Commissioner was Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, but in fact it was the TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud.
Pro-Taliban parties were facilitated in the elections and they had performed better, alleged the ANP legislator.
He said on the day of elections, bomb blasts were carried out in constituencies where the ANP candidates were in stronger position. And in such a situation voters could not be expected to come out of their houses to cast votes. He said although his party had accepted the election results, it had proofs that they were rigged. “A thappa mafia played an important role in the “election” of various candidates, he said sarcastically. “Whatever has been happening in the previous elections was also seen in the May 12 polls”.
According to him, at various polling stations in PS-93 (Karachi) the voter turnout was shown to be as high as 96.8 per cent, which was just not possible. “He who was favourite for any seat was got elected,” said the ANP Senator, implying that the outcome was manipulated.
Asked how different the results would have been if there were no manipulations, he said in that case his party would not have reduced to a “zero”.
He said Chaudhrys, Sardars, Khans and Waderas do influence the election outcome in the areas of their influence and the situation would remain unchanged unless literacy was promoted across the country.
He underlined the need for steps to improve the economic wellbeing of the people to ensure a strong and stable Pakistan. “Mere atom bombs cannot save the country”, he argued, citing the example of the Soviet Union which disintegrated because of the economic meltdown although it had a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Senator Syed said the existing electoral system was discriminatory and was most unfavourable to those contesting elections in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Elaborating his point, he said, since Punjab was a thickly-populated province, a candidate did not have to travel much to be able to access his voters. But in Balochistan he has to cover vast areas, which is very difficult.
Because of the vastness of constituencies in the country’s most backward province, the ANP leader said, the impact of the development funds given to legislators was not the same as in other provinces. To lay a network of roads in a Balochistan constituency, the legislator needs much more funds than his counterpart in other provinces where the constituencies are much smaller.
Answering a question about the local elections, the ANP leader said they should be held on the same pattern across the country. If these elections are to be party-based, they should be party-based in true sense, and if party-less, there should be no attempt to involve parties in them.
An edifice whose foundation is raised on hypocrisy will never yield positive results, he said, stressing that any system approved for local bodies should not be “adulterated”.
Senator Shahi Syed regretted that in the past famous leaders elected with the backing of various parties submitted affidavits that they had no political affiliations. He cited the examples of Naimatullah Khan and Mustafa Kamal, who were nominees of the Jamaat-i-Islami and the MQM, respectively, but declared themselves non-partisan. He said some ANP leaders who took part in the polls also mis-declared their political leanings.