Those advocating for intimidating elections have stakes, including the ruling elite of feudal lords, their network of favourites, and second-tier political leaders and contractors thriving on a divided political landscape. They feel uncomfortable as they cannot conduct their nefarious business of dividing national, provincial, local, and departmental budgets among themselves.
The advisors, ministers, and their families sustain luxurious lives from the public exchequer, expertly embezzling funds and escaping accountability. In contrast, the common people, for whom “free, fair, and transparent elections” are demanded, only experience relief when an elected government is ousted. During military dictatorships, caretaker regimes, or technocratic tenures, crackdowns on hoarders, profiteers, and black marketers lead to reduced prices, enhanced merit, decreased police brutality, improved law and order, and overall improvement in the lives of ordinary citizens.
While democracy is generally favourable, the Pakistani version has been worsened compared to dictatorship. When elected governments are removed, the common people don’t rally for their restoration. Over the last 15 years, Dadu, my home district, has suffered as budgets allocated for water supply, roads, education, and municipal services have allegedly been misappropriated by local elected officials and PPP members. Smuggling, crime, and hoarding have ravaged the lives of the common people.
The benefits of reduced fuel prices and currency appreciation under caretaker setups are not reaching the public. Opposition activists claim that most businesses and transport are owned by the family and friends of local MNAs, while others are linked to powerful feudal lords connected to PPP. Exploitative forces in business and bureaucracy maintain the status quo. The district government demolishes the homes and businesses of the poor, but powerful individuals connected to the ruling party, with large structures on encroached land, remain untouched. Dadu District has become worse than Somalia.
Mr. Fayaz Rahoojo, DC Dadu, works tirelessly to restore government department functionality, but success is limited. When a new “elected government” takes office, officials working in the public interest are often replaced. The same situation persists in the rest of Sindh. No silver lining is in sight to make democracy beneficial for the people.