Punishment well-deserved

Published: March 9, 2012

Waheeda Shah had assaulted a polling staffer during last month’s by-elections in Tando Mohammad Khan. PHOTO: FILE/EXPRESS TRIBUNE

The two-year disqualification handed out to the PPP’s Waheeda Shah by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is an entirely appropriate punishment for an unwarranted crime: slapping an ECP staff member at the polling station. Ms Shah’s actions threatened the integrity of the electoral process and by not allowing her to contest polls for two years, the ECP has ensured that she has to vacate her Sindh Assembly seat immediately. Consequently, she will not be allowed to run for office in the next general elections. The next step should be for the Director of the Sindh Police — who is seen standing silently behind Ms Shah in the video as she slaps the ECP official — to be removed from office.

Those who are trying to downplay the incident, saying that it pales in comparison to other crimes committed in the country on a daily basis, need to realise how essential free and fair elections are to the country’s future and that a strong message — that no one is above the law — needs to be sent to those who hold or vie for public office. Ms Shah’s punishment will hopefully serve as an example to all those who may consider throwing their weight around to ensure that the orders of local polling officials need to be heeded. So egregious was her offence that her party, the PPP, should consider taking further action and expelling her from the party. In fact, the party should have taken punitive action immediately to distance itself from this event and to reassure voters that it believes in free and fair elections while respecting the ECP’s independence.

But the news is not all good. Two of the five members of the ECP who were hearing her case voted to absolve Ms Shah, despite the fact that her actions were caught on video. One of the two was the chief election commissioner and it really boggles the mind that Ms Shah would be let off, given the video footage showing her quite clearly slapping a female staffer. The other member also seems to have cast his vote in a manner that observers would, perhaps, wonder about his political loyalties. While such things are normal for members of government bodies, this particular case seemed quite clear-cut.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2012.

Reader Comments (7)

  • shamim siddiqui
    Mar 9, 2012 - 2:11AM

    SC welldone justice must be seen

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  • Haris
    Mar 9, 2012 - 6:31AM

    Shouldnt assault lead to some jail term as well or are people getting distracted again?

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  • Maulana tharra
    Mar 9, 2012 - 8:06AM

    Can some one remind SC of “Syed” Wasi Zafar (Mush’s law minister) and his son thrashing a poor waiter?
    Any suo moto here Your Honours? Or this would be constued as contempt of court; I mean the reminder!

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  • sunil vohra
    Mar 9, 2012 - 9:47AM

    She should be banned for life!!!

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  • Citizen
    Mar 9, 2012 - 3:42PM

    well done SC

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  • Ahmad
    Mar 9, 2012 - 4:22PM

    SC didn’t have anything to do with this. Seems people couldn’t be bothered to read the article.

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  • MarkH
    Mar 10, 2012 - 1:27AM

    People should stop congratulating the SC by now, anyways. It’s not an achievement, it’s what they’re supposed to do and it should be such a common occurrence that it goes unnoticed most of the time.

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