Treat All Parties Equally
By Dawar Naqvi
Yorba Linda, CA
I believe the most solemn and pressing duty of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Chief of Army Staff and Chief Election Commissioner is to give adequate protection to the people of Pakistan. If the general conditions in the country show signs of uncertainty and administrative weaknesses during the election process, the prospects and promise of a fair election will dwindle and slowly fade away.
The caretaker government is equally responsible for ensuring a peaceful climate for facilitating fair and free elections.
Given the present conditions one is apt to ask how peaceful elections could be held amid the continuing terrorist attacks in different parts of the country. In a video message last month, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan's (TTP) spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan warned the people to stay away from political gatherings organized by ANP, PPP and MQM.
A leading Pakistani human rights watchdog has also expressed serious concerns over what it terms systematic attempts to exclude candidates from elections and to sabotage people’s ability to elect candidates of their own choice or to hold them to account.
The ANP claims that the Taliban have killed more than 700 of its workers and leaders, including two provincial legislators and one senior minister.
Pakistan's third secular party, the MQM, draws support primarily from the country's commercial capital, Karachi, and from urban Sindh. The MQM has also been forced to focus on corner meetings, door-to-door visits, media appearances, and social media outlets due to the perceived threats from the Taliban.
"Unlike the past, our election drive is all door-to-door visits, corner meetings, telephonic speeches, and media statements," said deputy MQM convener Dr Farooq Sattar. Sharing their concern about the threats with this writer, both the ANP and MQM leaders said they will file formal complaints about the precarious security situation.
Conversely, the right wing parties – PTI, PML-N, JI, JUI-F – have been able to hold large public meetings freely and without any threat or restraints. This year, the PTI managed to hold three massive election gatherings in Lahore, Peshawar, and Swat in the month of March alone. Similarly, PML-N leader Sharif held a public gathering in Mardan on March 8 and Hazara on March 25, while the JUI-F demonstrated its popularity with a large-scale rally at the historic Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore on March 31.
Fairplay and justice demand that all parties are treated equally and given protection to conduct their political campaigns without let or hindrance.