Possibly the most exciting phase of the forthcoming elections would be the scrutiny process, which starts today. The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) has made the first day of the process to be April 1. One wonders how many fools we will suffer as a result.
But then there is some hope. There are a number of reasons for disqualification. From evidence of involvement in corruption and financial impropriety to submission of fake degrees and documents.
While many parties are fielding their regulars, some of whom may possibly not pass the glare of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), there are also a number of cover candidates who have comparatively better credentials.
The major beneficiary of this stage of the elections would be parties like the PTI. The PML-N and the MQM are also expected to fare better here given their track record while in power.
While the future looks bright for many, it seems to be dimming for others. Credit to General (retd) Pervez Musharraf for returning to Pakistan and facing the music. The shoe-throwing incident at the Sindh High Court leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
But history was made as a former army chief submitted himself before the court. Now we will see whether he will actually be allowed to contest.
In all this doom and gloom, the encouraging aspect is how the transition of power has happened. Pakistanis should congratulate themselves at the appointment of a caretaker government which has been brought in by a transparent process.
The departure of the political government has led to some welcome developments. For example, the CAA finally accepted for the first time through its legal counsel that not only was the Air Blue crash of 2010 the result of pilot error but that it also involved negligence on the part of the CAA’s own air traffic controllers.
Till now, the CAA had kept silent on the issue because of political pressure. Someone at the top had done a deal. The pleas of the families of those who died fell on deaf ears.
Even the International Civil Aviation Organization had, in 2012, said that it was not satisfied with the CAA’s initial report. Such an international rebuke did not make the aviation regulator budge.
But a change in guard has brought a change in heart. Now possibly we will also get a true picture of the Bhoja Air crash and the PIA mishaps that have claimed many lives but whose inquiry reports remain hidden.
We may even have more details on how air traffic controllers, who seem to be behind some of the mishaps and near-misses, are employed and on what basis. And this should not be restricted to just the CAA.
All government entities need to go through this cleansing process. A tall task for the caretaker government and possibly out of its ambit as well. But then, what is the ambit of the caretakers?
Caretaker CM Najam Sethi has promised to turn the bureaucracy upside down in Punjab. This he said after a meeting with Imran Khan. But such statements suggest some bias and should be avoided. Has our colleague Mr Sethi been given the charge of cutting the PML-N down to size?
Our caretaker chief minister in Sindh has disappointed. He has sworn in a cabinet of 18 persons, which includes a relation of the caretaker PM as well. One would have expected better from a person of his calibre. After all, our PM also rejected some political nominees himself.
In contrast, our CEC, however, continues to surge ahead undeterred. His recent visit to Balochistan and meeting with major political entities of the province is a milestone in recent political developments. If the main Baloch parties come back into the political arena, the feeling of neglect will diminish. But this only if other players do not sabotage the process.
For our caretaker PM, who for some reason is having trouble forming his cabinet, has a bigger decision to make. Should he give relief to our country’s tax cheats or to the small minority of honest tax payers? He can push through the Tax Amnesty Bill, which was earlier rejected by parliament. If done, this will bring in an additional identified three million tax evaders into the tax net. Let us see how much commitment there is in this government.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st, 2013.
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