The return of the old guard

Published: June 8, 2013
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anwer.mooraj@tribune.com.pk

anwer.mooraj@tribune.com.pk

You’ve all read the headlines. And you’ve all formed your own opinion about what is happening in the country. For the chap who plans to write an objective political history of Pakistan — a lot has happened. A democratically elected government managed to complete its constitutional term amid great pomp and ceremony. And members of the newly formed National Assembly gleefully endorsed the action with a pinch of self-administered aversion therapy by vowing to ensure that the country will never again relapse into dictatorship. Mind you, it was a bit theatrical. But that’s the way we do things in our country. Of course, not everybody approved of the fact that we had a president who wore two hats, or his gambit of placating opponents by offering them ministries, or his choice of prime ministers, neither of whom had an ‘O’ level in economics.

But in terms of political rectitude and amending the system, nothing has really changed. There has been a minor reshuffling of mugshots at the centre where Nawaz Sharif has replaced the PPP leadership on an avalanche of popular votes. But the PPP is back in Sindh. And Qaim Ali Shah has taken the oath for the third time. The Thinking Man is now expecting another round of musical chairs with the MQM. But the change that was promised to the people by Imran Khan, who at one time, looked as if he was going to break the glass on emergency ideas, never came, much to the disappointment of wide swathes of voters who were certain he would win.

Charges of alleged massive rigging in Karachi, the rest of Sindh and Punjab in what is easily the worst managed national election since 1970, are still there and will not go away. The electoral results produced a permanent rictus of shock and disdain. Imran Khan’s supporters now have no choice but to accept the verdict with stoicism. The PTI victory in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) came as a huge surprise, but party workers would have preferred a better result in the other provinces. But it was not to be. Talking of the north-west frontier, one of the conspiracy theories that were doing the rounds is that whoever was responsible for the gross electoral manipulation didn’t really bother about K-P, because they knew the ANP would not be returned to power.

One wonders if the electorate in Pakistan will one day behave like its eastern neighbour at election time. In the midst of an avalanche of accusations about corruption, vote buying, dynastic nepotism, ethnic and tribal tensions, elections are held every five years. At the end of the day, the winners are congratulated by the losers. One never hears any squeaks about rigging or intelligence agencies interfering in the election. This is a country where politicians often do a 30-year apprenticeship in a party before they are elevated to a high position, unlike Pakistan, where candidates switch loyalties at the drop of a hat and want to become leaders overnight.

I’ll never forget the time in 2002 when the German government invited me to witness the national election. The contest was between Edmund Stoiber of the Christian Democrats and the head of the Social Democrats, Gerhard Schroeder, who was hoping to be re-elected as chancellor. The rallies and public meetings were peaceful and orderly. The police watched from a distance. That night we learned that Schroeder was forming the government with the support of the Greens. There were no cries of foul play. No appeals to the courts. This is how a democracy works.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • toticalling
    Jun 9, 2013 - 12:02AM

    Interesting when you compare German elections in 2002 with Pakistan of today: “There were no cries of foul play. No appeals to the courts. This is how a democracy works.”
    Great but there are other differences, which are much more relevant. In Germany secular parties were not targeted and nobody was kidnapped to influence the elections. Somebody who knows Germany should have cried loud about this one way killings of liberal parties.
    But I agree Pakistan has changed with change with peaceful means. In Germany western powers were still not sure about Germany, because of Hitler’s rule. But when in 1969, government changed from CDU to SPD of Willie Brandt, America knew that Germany will never repeat the 1934 fiasco.
    That is what hopefully will happen In Pakistan. Army boots will not return with dismal consequences.Recommend

  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    Jun 9, 2013 - 12:09AM

    And what about Gore vs Bush, that election was decided by the US Supreme Court which has the conservative majority.

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  • k. Salim Jahangir
    Jun 9, 2013 - 12:20AM

    @Mr.Anwer Mooraj………..Sir,you are comparing apples with oranges,Germany with Pakistan? One feels ashamed when they say transfer of power from one democratic government to another? What a mockery,rigging the elections,cheating & corruption is the way of life where we live. The citizens have no fundamental rights,they cannot raise their voices against loot & plunder,they even do not know what animal is democracy,because the masses have been deliberately kept illiterate over the decades & we call it democracy.It is a dynasty & these so called politicians are despots,if they are so then why not to have the real ones,because they are better.Sorry one was carried away by emotions. We have to live & die here because it is pre-ordained,but these corrupt & self serving politicians will suck the blood of hapless masses for five years & then go & live comfortably in their villas in Europe.God help us & this unfortunate beautiful country!!!

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  • Parvez
    Jun 9, 2013 - 12:41AM

    Am in full agreement with your first sentence. When the foundation (electoral process) is flawed how can one expect to see a secure structure emerge.

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  • Ricky
    Jun 9, 2013 - 9:56AM

    Sir you have to get out of the old and into the new era. You are talking about PM not having O level in econ or NWFP for KPK and likes. Democratically elected Zardari was party head and stayed till the PCO judiciary determined it was not constitutional. However, the same judiciary and your ilk did not have any problem when Mush was army chief, president of Islamic Republic and head of his King’s Party all three in one at the same time in uniform!
    Fortunately Pakistan has more locally educated people and not the urban elitists that is why PTI and IK who have disdain toward poor Urdu medium lost and NS won. This is democracy and your votes is equal to the vote of a farmer. Learn to live with it Sir.

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  • aaaaa
    Jun 9, 2013 - 9:59PM

    “Charges of alleged massive rigging in Karachi, the rest of Sindh and Punjab in what is easily the worst managed national election since 1970, are still there and will not go away. The electoral results produced a permanent rictus of shock and disdain.”

    Followed by:

    “Talking of the north-west frontier, one of the conspiracy theories that were doing the rounds is that whoever was responsible for the gross electoral manipulation didn’t really bother about K-P, because they knew the ANP would not be returned to power.”

    So advancing conspiracy theories before stating that other conspiracy theories are doing the rounds? Would that be accurate?

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  • G. Din
    Jun 10, 2013 - 1:38AM

    “This is a country where politicians often do a 30-year apprenticeship in a party before they are elevated to a high position, …”
    I am not so sure. After all India did give the terms “Aaya Ram” and “Gaya Ram” to the world. Thirty year apprenticeship the author talks about is not towards the party but THE DYNASTY which sees that everyone is turned into a loyal old stable hand, “khidmatgaar”. No other party has that kind of apprenticeship requirement. But we may be seeing an end of that in the not-too-distant future (knock on the wood)!!!

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