Pakistan present and future prospects, a review of the situation.
By Ibrash Pasha.
After the dissolution of the Pakistan national assembly the nation is entering into a stage set for the upcoming elections. The upcoming elections are seen to be in a very difficult time, in terms of the security situation across the country and in the region. Also the predictions for the Islamists and other reactionary forces could increase the people’s hardships, if they are victorious in the May 2013 elections. The previous elected democratic government has delivered some good results in terms of provincial autonomy, constitutional changes but was also unable to protect the minorities, liberals, secular mined people and countering Taliban terrorists. The secular, liberal political forces are unable to cooperate among each other for contesting the upcoming elections jointly to safe guard the citizen’s lives and liberties. Obviously, these forces will not be allowed to hold the open gatherings, large rallies and election campaigns due security reasons. It is feared that the election process will be violent in some parts of the country. This violence would base on ethnicity, political ideologies, religious and sectarian orientation. The current mayhem and arsons against minorities clearly indicates that vulnerable sections of the society would easily fall prey to notorious blasphemy laws for settling political objectives. The very frequent occurrence of lethal attacks against the social services providers, where thousands of the girls schools have been blown up, polio vaccine health workers, peace, rights, democratic political activist and journalist are killed every day.
Most of the Pakistani citizens are thinking that United States of America-USA and NATO forces are tired of the war in Afghanistan. After the engagement in war for more than 12 years, now they are planning to involve the Taliban and other Islamic Jihadist forces in the governance of the country. After the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan, it is feared that Taliban would seize power there. This cataclysm would cause dare consequences for Pakistan and its political process. Majority of Pakistanis living in fear are forced to vote for the right wing parties to save their skins. On the other hand Pakistani state is unable to deliver up to the expectations of the citizens. The unjust justice system, unaccountable, irresponsive bureaucracy and military establishments have multiplied the people issues. Further the inflation, price hikes, excessive power and gas outages, directly resulting in job cuts due to closure of many production units. This has blasted the country’s economy. In this scenario the pro Taliban parties and other co-right wing forces have the obvious chances of grabbing the power in the country or some provinces of the country similar to Mutahida Majlis –e- Amal –MMA replica during Musharaf regime (Alliance of the pro Taliban religious parties, who formed governments in two provinces of Pakistan out of 4 in the 2002 general elections)
The Islamic fundamentalists and right wing parties have started the election campaigns from the last several months. They have been launching the election manifestos and sharing the election programs with people, while the liberal parties have not yet initiated work on the preparation of election manifestos and election programs. The fundamentalist Islamic parties have completed the fielding of candidate’s nomination process about a year ago. The ultra right religious parties have started the process of alliance building with other right wing parties. While the liberal parties are announcing solo flights in the elections. The alliance building and seat to seat adjustment will help the Islamic right wing parties.
The open support of the judiciary, election commission, mainstream, corporate and social media and overwhelming majority of the pro Taliban military establishment give a clear cut edge to the right wing parties. The implementation of article 62, 63 (practicing best Muslim) and the oaths filing by the candidates and changing the process of the nomination papers are also favoring these forces. The country, where the literacy rate is low, and there is no such political education opportunity available for the citizens specially for the youth and students, who are the main chunk of voters i.e. 35% voters are youth below 30 years could be very easily attracted by these forces. Similarly the women, who consist of 52% of population, will be easily motivated by the Islamic fundamentalists to vote for them.
This situation must be felt seriously by the progressive, secular and liberal forces to unite and chart out this dangerous situation and mitigate uncalled difference among them for the sake of preserving of the progressive democratic culture, peace and harmony in the country and beyond. There focus should be on youth, female, minorities and working masses. It is needed to educate people and practice democratic values and promote democratic culture in their parties. They should play their role to promote harmony and acceptance for the pluralists’ thoughts. The Election Commission of Pakistan- ECP must impose ban on those political parties and candidates, who are involved in violence and crimes. ECP should implant a filter, to judge, if their political programs and manifestos are promoting violence and intolerance in the country or exporting it to the neighboring countries and beyond, must be declared out law. The victims of war and violence, survivors, wounded, injured, disabled, widows and orphans must be rehabilitated and duly compensated. Infrastructure, roads, bridges, hospitals and schools damaged during the natural disasters and military operations must be immediately reinstated. The rehabilitation of power units, availability of gas and electricity is direly required. The control over the inflation, price hikes and creating jobs for youth could help in normalizing the situation.
The writer is a peace and rights activist in the Khyber Pukhtunbkhwa. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org