World Politics

Elections and Political Malpractice in Pakistan


Farooq Tariq

 

An election is taking place in Faisalabad for Punjab Assembly today. There are three more bye elections in other areas of Punjab. All are taking place after the resignations of the members of parliament due to their fake degrees of graduation submitted to Election Commission during the 2008 general election. It took two years before the Supreme Court took up the cases and several of these accused opted to resign instead of fighting their cases.

 

Two of those who resigned are contesting again. A natural division of these two is shared by the two parties of the rich, the Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz. Ajmal Asif contesting from Faisalabad is from PMLN and Jamshed Dasti from PPP. Both of them are allowed by the courts to contest against. What a mockery of the justice. They resigned from their seats because they had cheated the Election Commission and the people in general. The cheaters are contesting again because at present the condition for the illegibility of a candidate to be a graduate is gone.

 

This is just one aspect of these bye elections. The elections are contested every where with full state sponsorship of the candidates from the respective governing political parties. The rich candidates are violating all the code of conduct that Election Commission has laid down for candidates before the elections.

 

Prime Minister Gilani has addressed public rallies in Vihari and Muzhafar Ghar districts in support of the PPP candidates. He has announced several development schemes for those districts as part of their election strategy. The EC code of conduct prohibits a candidate or a party to announce any development scheme, subscription or donation to an individual or an institute to be announced. The Governor of Punjab, a PPP person announced several such schemes in Faisalabad. An army of provincial ministers both from PPP and PMLN are permanently based in the different constituencies where bye elections are taking place offering the locals for all sort of state benefits once they will vote for their candidate.

 

Both parties have to do this mal practice because they politics have not much to offer to people. State patronization of a particular candidate is very visible in these bye elections.

 

However, it is the general practices of  PPP and PMLN candidates that is making these elections as a farce and pretense. Winning the election at all cost is the only solution to their feudal ego. They are spending money like anything. The EC code of conduct prohibits a candidate not to spend more than 1.5 million Rupees in the case of National Assembly and less than a million Rupees for provincial elections.

I have been several times to Faisalabad to campaign for Labour party Pakistan candidate Mian Abdul Qayum. The money spent by Ajmal Asif, the fake degree holder and a candidate of PMLN is by any mean in billions and not in millions. His massive colour banners, hoardings, posters, stickers, T shirts and other advertising material have no match to the limitation of election expenditure. All of these advertising materials is not according the sizes that have been printed in the code of conduct booklet of the Election Commission.

 

But this is not his main spending. Teams of his supporters who are mainly the textile mill owners are visiting working class areas of constituencies and offering them cash amount of 3000 to 10,000 depending on votes of a family. They have Quran in their hand for an oath to be administered that they will vote for Mian Ajmal.

 

Election Commission of Pakistan has never taken any notice of over expenditure in their whole history. For them this might be a minor election irregularity, there are other massive ones to deal with. By allowing the rich candidate to use capital as the base of the vote, the Election Commission becomes a party in favour of the rich.

 

The workers of the textile factories and power looms have been threatened to loose their job if they vote for LPP candidate.  A capitalist class is acting as a class in this constituency. They know if LPP candidate gets even any reasonable votes, it will start a new era of politics in Pakistan. It seems that there is absolute no shortage of resources for this representative of PMLN for this bye elections.

 

There are over 100 gum men around him when he moves in the constituency. This is total breach of the EC code of conduct. The open exhibition of the arms is a direct threat to the peace of these elections. The gun men arms are itself an act of canvassing on behalf of the candidates of the rich parties.

 

Ajmal Asif , the PMLN candidate is a declared proclaimed offender in a murder and attempt of murder case. He was involved in killing of an industrial worker and injuring several when they tried to form a trade union in 2008. He is nominated by a political party PMLN, that has advocated a rule of law and for an independent judiciary. What a respect for judiciary, as they declare a person proclaimed offender and PMLN nominate him to contest elections on its behalf.

 

The PPP federal government has gone even further than PMLN in these violations of EC code of conduct. In almost every village, they development work to lay down the gas pipe lines has started when the lection schedule was announced. It stoped yesterday on 14 May, ad ay before poling. If you vote for PPP, the pipe line work will be completed, if you do not, the digging of soul will remain the same and dust will be every where, is the hidden message. So is the case of road constructions. It is left uncompleted and will be done if you vote. It is dirtiest game by a party that claims to be “Peoples” party. It is not “Peoples” party but a party of the crooks and schemers for the bosses.

 

The PPP activists are distributing the so-called Benazhir Income Support Scheme farms and bank cheque to poor women. The BISS aims at providing Rupees one thousand a month to the poor of the poor section. But World Bank sponsored scheme is been used every where by PPP as an election incentive.

The PPP elections campaign in Faisalabad is been supported by active participation of Faryal Talpur, sister of presedient Zardari, The governor of Punjab, the minister of natural resources and petroleum, Federal textile minister and several other ministers.

 

The capitalist democracy is been exposed in classical terms as a politics of the few for the few rich. We have been offered an election to choose who will exploit us for the next three years.

 

LPP is contesting against the two governments and not against the candidates of the two political parties. On one side, the LPP activists are sleeping on rough floors after campaigning door to door, and on the other side the supporters of PPP and PMLN are having their best lunches, dinners and rides on the most expensive luxury land crusers and other massive jeeps and cars. The LPP candidate has one car to campaign while the PPP and PMLN candidates have countless transport available both private and government one. The LPP candidate is taking care of all aspect of EC code of conduct, while the two candidates of PPP and PMLN are violating every aspect of that.

 

Whatever the results are today, the working class in Faisalabad industrials suburbs will not be the same. There is growing consciousness that there is Labour candidate in this area. Everyone knows that we are in the field. Over 10,000 workers participated in our election rallies. Countless poems have been written in praise of our election symbol Apple (Seeb). Our candidate Mian Abdul Qayum and comrades of LPP from other areas have campaigned day and night. Labour Qaumi Movement, the labour organization that Mian Qayum heads, has become a household name in Faisalabad.

 

This is not the end of the politics; it is the beginning of our new era. This is the beginning of a working class politics on a platform of working class party. Most of the Left parties and groups have supported us. They have come to campaign for us that include Workers Party of Pakistan and Awami Jamhori Forum in particular. The election results will be announced this evening and hopefully we will not be at the bottom end but among the top four out of 17 candidates.