2024 elections are key to restoring political stability that Pakistan desperately needs?

2024 elections are key to restoring political stability that Pakistan desperately needs

By Irum Saleem

“After the Supreme Court’s shock verdict depriving the PTI of its election symbol late Saturday, many observers have wryly questioned the need for having elections at all, given how neatly the field now appears to be set up. However, the show must go on,” Dawn writes in its editorial.

By now, most of the parties, including the PTI, have issued lists of candidates to whom tickets have been awarded, and these hopefuls have very little time to canvass for votes. They must get going with their campaigns forthwith. The PML-N still seems considerably behind compared to the PPP, which has taken a head start as far as holding workers’ meetings and jalsas is concerned.

“The PTI, unfortunately, faces new, serious existential challenges after losing the bat. However, the party has displayed grit and determination thus far, and it is hoped, for the sake of Pakistani democracy, that it will manage to make the best of the hand it has been dealt,” it says.

The lesson that ought to have been learned in 2018 was that engineering results by interfering in the electoral process invariably has disastrous consequences. Those benefiting from such ‘interventions’ may reap short-term benefits, but without meaningful public support and the legitimacy conferred by a fair election to strengthen their hand, they cannot expect to survive the pressures that come with executive power.

“With this in mind, all political parties should collectively ask non-democratic forces to step away from the ring immediately.

It is well past time for them to assert their space in the country’s power configuration and keep dominion over the political sphere — unless they wish to remain at the mercy of non-democratic forces in the years to come as well. The parties seem eager to out-compete each other; it would be a shame if they are not given a fair chance to do so on an equal footing from here on.”

Meanwhile, it is deeply concerning that two fresh resolutions have been forwarded to the Senate to seek a delay in elections over weather and security concerns.

The caretaker government and the ECP must ensure that the commitment to holding general elections on Feb 8 is not derailed. These elections are key to restoring the political stability that Pakistan desperately needs.

“Unfortunately, major controversies have dogged the polls from the very beginning, and there is now a dark pall over the entire exercise. The institutions responsible, especially the ECP, owe it to the nation to salvage what respectability they can for the exercise by ensuring, from now on, fool-proof security and the freedom to campaign for all candidates cleared to participate in the polls.

No candidate should fear appearing in public and putting their agenda before the people. Much damage has already been done. No more should be allowed,” Dawn advises.

 But it will remain a distant dream. PAK DESTINY

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