Fair is foul and foul is fair…

Published: March 13, 2018

…hover through the fog and filthy air’ — and the Three Witches conclude a dark opening to that darkest of Shakespearean tragedies, Macbeth. Today the witches of the Election Commission of Pakistan have delivered their prophecies in the matter of delimitation of constituency boundaries and lead balloons are hitting the ground right-left-and-centre in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. All the major parties have rejected the delimitation decisions made by the ECP which have upset a number of candidates already well into their campaigns. The ECP has been urged to have a rethink but given the constraints on time this is unlikely to be accomplished before the polling booths open for business.

The potential for trouble was always there. The census results on which delimitation is based are all preliminary rather than final and there is such concern about the accuracy of the census that a re-sampling is already underway. There is filthy air in abundance and any amount of hovering to be done. Just about every political party is up in arms about how the delimitations as newly described displease them, and there do appear to be at the very least some startling anomalies that on the face of it seem to slant in favour of the PTI which is of course stoutly denied by the ECP.

With the Three Witches having sloped off across the blasted heath and Birnam Wood yet to show up outside Dunsinane the stage is set for all manner of hurly-burly, little of it seemly and all of it about some very large egos juggling for a place on the political gravy trains. None of this is going to be pretty and with minor adjustments there is unlikely to be much change in the status quo. There will be wins and losses but the balance of power is likely to remain the same. The churn started by the ECP is a passing cloud, and there is no time to readjust the readjustments and the aggrieved politicos are just going to have to bite the bullet. And when shall we three meet again? September looks good. Make a diary note.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2018.

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