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        Society for Policy Studies


The day after tomorrow the people of Pakistan are likely to learn once again, among other things, the futility of efforts to establish a democratic order without efficient, democratic party apparatuses. The party that is to suffer the most for lacking an effective party machine is the PPP. Its capacity to avoid learning from past debacles, that were caused or at least accentuated by the non-availability of dedicated party workers, is truly phenomenal. It used to discount the role of an organised party structure by describing itself as a movement. It can no longer claim that title because no charismatic leader is visible to whom the masses can swear allegiance.


If actions speak louder than words, then in Balochistan, the elections this weekend are being made out to be some kind of a referendum on the demand for independence by separatist groups.

The headline, “Election security: Balochistan braces for surgical operation” in a national daily left me amazed at the deviousness media uses in its reporting of distressing events and issues to make them look completely innocuous, or even praiseworthy. The crafty employment of words and phrases is truly beguiling and lethally effective in constructing or deconstructing opinions and views about issues. These clichés deceive people into believing that the ‘establishment’ or institutions’ favoured narrative is the absolute truth.

The political structure of Pakistan might change once the 2013 elections take place on May 11. This will mark a momentous occasion, as elections will take place after a democratically elected government, for the first time in Pakistan’s history, completed its five-year term in office.


Pakistan had braced itself for a ‘bloody’ election. It’s bad enough that being resigned to this reality was a prerequisite for further democratic consolidation. But the carnage that is unfolding ahead of polls in Karachi, Quetta and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is far worse than anyone could have prepared for. ANP, MQM and PPP candidates are being mercilessly targeted by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Many have therefore rightly questioned whether an election contested under such uneven circumstances can be considered free and fair.


There is no denying that the erstwhile modernist Pakistani leadership tried to make Pakistan both democratic and Islamic, but no constitutional formula could find the proper balance


A society aiming at genuine inclusion needs to make sure that its youth participate in all its affairs, views of the young people are included in development affairs, youth develop leadership skills and young people become active participants in the political process so that they can have their representatives for running state affairs. Pakistani youth have either remained marginalised or not played an active role in the political process for many years. This is largely due to institutional and policy constraints of the state, frequent military interventions since the inception of Pakistan, lack of political stability, and the rule of dictatorship in political parties that hinders youth from taking part in national politics.


The question of Pakistan’s viability as a state is at least as old as the country itself. Recently a sobering article written by a former American ambassador to Pakistan has reignited the question and left many wondering whether Pakistan’s “long-term trajectory is toward failure”. The ambassador belongs to the camp that sees Pakistan as moving inexorably towards failure, and urges the world community and regional neighbours to start “thinking about the political and strategic implications of an accelerated decline toward state failure” in the nuclear-armed country.


The returning officer’s decision to reject Ayaz Amir’s nomination papers should be a wake up call, instead of blaming the poor returning officer who was taught by the state never to question the idea that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam. Now we blame the returning officer for rejecting what he has been taught to reject? Liberalism, pluralism, secularism, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, all these fine ideas militate against the manufactured and concocted ideology of Pakistan.


The constitution of Pakistan through Article 62 has prescribed certain qualifications for the persons aspiring to become members of the legislatures. In this regard clause (f) of the article is the most significant of all the listed qualifications. According to this clause no person shall be qualified to be elected or chosen as member of Majli-e-Shoora unless ‘he is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law’. 


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