Recent media reports have indicated that a group of people was spreading terror around the Daska NA-75 constituency. This points to the failure of the district and provincial government in providing an atmosphere where voters can exercise their right to vote without any fear. In one incident, the gate of a polling booth remained closed for over 3 to 5 hours, hindering the voters to enter and exercise their rights. Furthermore, it was also witnessed that a bag containing votes was moved around. In such an environment, conducting free and fair elections is impossible.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should have been seen exercising its constitutional writ to ensure fair elections in a peaceful manner, with no threat to the life of citizens. The ECP alone should have the sole administrative control over law enforcements in any constituency where elections are to be held, with powers for punitive action against those who fail to perform their duties. They should also have the authority to call upon paramilitary forces to maintain peace outside the polling booths and within the constituency if police fail to restore the rule of law.
Instead, policemen in uniforms were seen standing by while the law was openly violated. It would have been better if the ECP had suspended the bye-elections, taken over administration of law enforcement and extended voting hours to enable all citizens to cast their votes.
Malik Tariq Ali
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2021.