Supervision of polls and contradictions in PPP’s viewpoint

LAHORE - The credibility of almost all the elections held in the past has been doubtful and the parties which were defeated always alleged that the polls had been massively rigged.It was probably because of this unenviable practice that Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim took the holding of free and fair elections as a challenge to him. In various interviews, he said that the future of the country depended on free and transparent polls.To hold such elections whose impartiality, transparency and fairness is beyond any iota of doubt, he approached the chief justice of Pakistan with a request to allow judicial officials to perform duties on the election day. The CEC had to send a communication to the CJP because the latter had earlier decided that the judicial officials would not be involved in the electoral process.The CJP considered the CEC’s request and, after examining all aspects of it, agreed to let the judicial officials perform duties to be assigned to them on the polling day.This created an interesting situation in the ruling PPP. Federal Law Minister Farooq H Naek was quoted as saying that the government had reservations about the decision of holding the election under the supervision of the judiciary. He said in an interview that the government would write a letter to the CEC to express its reservations. He argued the elections are to be supervised by the interim government, not the judiciary.Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Shah, who is regarded as closer to President Zardari than any other minister, told reporters that the government welcomed the decision of holding the elections under the supervision of the judiciary.Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira who is also information secretary as well as spokesman of the PPP came up with a third version. He told the media that his party had still not taken any decision about the acceptance or otherwise of the elections under the supervision of the judiciary.This means three ministers and three different versions on the same issue. It’s not clear who speaks for the ruling party. If it’s Kaira’s prerogative to explain the party position, the other two ministers should have kept silent. Anyhow, there is little doubt that elections must be absolutely free and fair – if at all they are to be held. But if parties purchase votes to come to power or use other unfair means, then there is no justification for spending billions of the cash starved country on the farce of elections. The credibility of all previous elections was questioned because they were won through corrupt practices. Those defeated in the elections used to start movements against the ‘elected’ governments as a result of which the country faced frequent spells of instability.This is the first time that the assemblies are going to complete their mandated term.The elections are due to be held during the next few months. But, so far, it’s difficult to say that the people will be able to exercise their right to vote.The parties in the ruling coalition insist that the polls would be held on time, but many political leaders and people from other walks of life don’t think the elections will be held. They are of the view that the situation may take a sudden turn after which holding of elections will not be possible. The uncertainty will continue till the last moment. In case the elections are held, it will be important under whose supervision they are held. 

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