Why the PPP is boycotting the presidential election

Published: July 26, 2013
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The writer is general secretary of the PPP in Sindh and a former Senator

The writer is general secretary of the PPP in Sindh and a former Senator

Has Pakistan’s national politics made an about-turn to the pre-Charter of Democracy days of the decade of the 90s when the Establishment and the rightwing religious parties worked hand in glove and trampled over everything that was just, reasonable and pro-democracy?

Where is the broad consensus on strengthening the democratic system for which the Pakistan People’s Party had suffered so much and made so many compromises even on its just stands? That the PPP has been forced to boycott the elections for the President for which it had fielded a committed democrat and an outstanding consensus builder in the person of Senator Raza Rabbani is unfortunate. The situation that has been created by the actions of the right wing as well as the summary judgment of the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan does not augur well for strengthening democracy.

Sidelining the political opposition by the PML-N government on an issue which was so simple and so easy to resolve can prove suicidal to say the least. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should remember that back in 1997 he was elected with a much bigger majority as a result of the historic ‘Ramazan Rigging’ and it was this ‘politics of confrontation’ that had resulted in the unfortunate events of October 1999. All democratic gains that had been achieved were lost and we had to fight another long dictatorship. We must realise that a split between the political forces and the non-realisation of consensus between political parties can lead to very unfortunate ends.

It is our very genuine grievance that the Honourable Supreme Court had decided the matter without hearing the other political parties or other candidates. It is a genuine grievance that the campaign period which was already very short had been drastically further cut down. The PML-N may have its own spiritual and other reasons for asking that the date of the Presidential Elections be advanced from August 6 to July 30 but wouldn’t it have been much better if instead of rushing to the Supreme Court and getting a summary decision from them the various options available were discussed between the major parties and an agreed date communicated to the Election Commission of Pakistan?

The ECP too must realise that even on the announced date of August 6 the electoral college for the election of the President would have been incomplete. Holding of elections when 42 voters were yet to be elected is tantamount to rigging of elections. The ECP was aware in advance of the Constitutional requirements of Article 41(4) that the election to the office of the President shall be held “not later than thirty days before the expiration of the term of the President in office”. What was the hurdle in the way of holding the elections on the 42 seats before that date? If the general election of 1997 could be held in the month of Ramazan and be heavily rigged, why could elections on the 42 vacant seats not be held during Ramazan prior to the election of the President?

Now let us assume for a minute that ECP was not able to hold election on these seats on a date other than the stipulated date of August 22. Our Constitution, cognizant of a situation where “any act or thing is required by the Constitution to be done within a particular period and it is not done within that period” provides a remedy under Article 254. Under this Article the “doing of the act or thing shall not be invalid or otherwise ineffective by reason only that it was not done within that period”.

The term of office of President Zardari would not have been lengthened or the assumption of office by the next president been delayed by a single day, nor would the election be held invalid or ineffective even if this was held as late as September 7 or 8. Why then did the ECP, the PML-N or the Honorable Supreme Court not take due cognizance of the fact that 42 electors were being deprived of their right to vote? Is Article 41(4) so sacred that even the constitutional remedy of Article 254 would be insufficient to condone the delay?

Much more alarming is the fact that the PML-N did not opt to sit down with the opposition to examine the constitutional provisions and the remedies that were available. The Pakistan Peoples Party which has always opposed a boycott simply could not become a party to this sordid affair and thus came its decision to boycott the election.

It stinks and it is not difficult to smell a rat in the whole affair. Why was the PML-N so keen on an incomplete electoral college and a very short electoral campaign? Were they afraid that if issues were discussed in detail and the services of Senator Raza Rabbani were highlighted many legislators voting in a secret ballot may vote according to their conscience and in a very close election the tables may turn?

Respected Mr Mamnoon Husain who is a thorough gentleman and a personal friend of Senator Raza Rabbani, myself,  Mr Khurshid Shah, Mr Nisar Khuhro and so many of us from our days together in Karachi Central Jail when we were lodged in President Zaradari’s barrack during the days of the dictator is certainly making a bad start due to the shortsightedness of his leadership to whom he has stayed so loyal. Our commitment to democracy is unshakeable as always but he will have to make extra efforts to undo the damage.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Jul 27, 2013 - 12:19AM

    Exploiting religion to make one’s own ends meet is for what right-wingers are famous for.
    He is gong for Umra. He is going to sit for Aitekaf and u name it
    My dear right-wingers, Allah is going to ask you first about your “primary” responsibility first of all. And if you don’t know what it is then you better sit for Aitekaf. That may be of some assistance.

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  • Pakistani
    Jul 27, 2013 - 1:06AM

    Lame arguements. Everyone including ppp knows that it will lose the presidential election otherwise it would have zardari as a presidential candidate.
    Oh and Mr. Haider on case of you were not paying attention Pakistan’s national politics had already made an about-turn with the last PPP government working with Establishment ” hand in glove and trampled over everything that was just, reasonable and pro-democracy”

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  • A
    Jul 27, 2013 - 1:31AM

    Excellent article Taj sahab.

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  • Mirza
    Jul 27, 2013 - 2:26AM

    A very balanced and principled Op Ed by a seasoned democrat. Election of the assemblies is not complete and those people would be deprived of their voting right which is not fair. In fact PTI in particular would lose several votes as many of its top leaders were elected from multiple seats and they vacated all those seats.
    The manner and haste in which the presidential election at the request of one party of predominantly of one province and one city does not pass the smell test. Sharif has been behaving in a mature way and it was necessary to take all democratic forces together and complete the vacant seats election process prior to presidential elections. Today the elected govt issued a brave statement in favor of civilian govt of Egypt that was overthrown by its army. Gen Sisi of Egypt is claiming the support of masses against the elected leader. Doesn’t it sound familiar? Didn’t Zia, CJ, Mush and likes not claimed to have public support against popularly elected leaders? Mr. Morsi’s dictatorial and arrogant behavior did him in just like the last time Sharif ruled! Those who do not learn from history become history.

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  • Raju
    Jul 27, 2013 - 4:38AM

    Because PPP. Is a bad loser. The federation was also harmed when the Hajis were fleeced, OBEI robbed by Zafar Gondal, Epherdine sold for drug abuse, PSM, PIA, Railways, OGDC, PSO etc looted and Baluchistan handed over to a joker idiot as CM, and thousands killed in target killings in Karachi forgotten for sake of financial gains and politics. Yes PMLN should not have made an issue of 27 Ramadan and held elections on schedule, but than PPP boycott is totally unjustified.

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  • Jibran
    Jul 27, 2013 - 7:31AM

    @Pakistani:
    You lost it totally. Its not about winning or losing. Its the principle, no institution should be allowed to act as a savior and usurp the rights of others. We don’t want to scrap pieces for the next 60 years as we did for bureaucracy and military. There has to be an end to this one-sided madness to support one political party.

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  • Pmahmud
    Jul 27, 2013 - 8:03AM

    PPP is already missing Zaradari and has gone in for blame game and playing victim card. My sympathies.

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  • Maria
    Jul 27, 2013 - 9:08AM

    Sorry but I don’t buy any of the writer’s arguments. The majority party is going to secure its Presidential candidate which is more or less a ceremonial position so who are they fooling? The PPP claim to support democracy and institutions but this act shows they only care about power at any cost. This act only makes me support the PML (N) in power more even though I am a PTI voter. It also shows that the PPP are not fans of democracy in Pakistan. They can only talk about democracy when they have power.

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  • rkhn
    Jul 27, 2013 - 11:02AM

    @Jibran,

    What rights have been violated exactly? How does conducting the Presidential elections a week before or after deprive the politicians and people of their rights? It’s time we stop making issues out of nothing. It is just an attempt to make judiciary controversial and we people for once should be able to understand that it would never work in our favour if they succeed.

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  • A Pakistani
    Jul 27, 2013 - 11:18AM

    Mr Taj, “Grapes are Sour!”
    If PPP was serious about its victory it should have fielded Asif Zardari, the way it did in 2008, and not Raza Rabbai-who was not even granted a ministerial slot during the PPP’s tenure.
    Gone are the days when the Bhuttos were fooling & looting the nation. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all the time!!
    RiP PPP.

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jul 27, 2013 - 11:19AM

    A very balanced and principled Op Ed by a seasoned democrat. Election of the assemblies is not complete and those people would be deprived of their voting right which is not fair. In fact PTI in particular would lose several votes as many of its top leaders were elected from multiple seats and they vacated all those seats.

    The manner and haste in which the presidential election at the request of one party of predominantly of one province and one city does not pass the smell test. Sharif has been behaving in a mature way and it was necessary to take all democratic forces together and complete the vacant seats election process prior to presidential elections. Today the elected govt issued a brave statement in favor of civilian govt of Egypt that was overthrown by its army. Gen Sisi of Egypt is claiming the support of masses against the elected leader. Doesn’t it sound familiar? Didn’t Zia, CJ, Mush and likes not claimed to have public support against popularly elected leaders? Mr. Morsi’s dictatorial and arrogant behavior did him in just like the last time Sharif ruled! Those who do not learn from history become history.

    Recommend

  • Kamran Khan
    Jul 27, 2013 - 11:48AM

    This guy is funny, he pretends to represent karachi walas in the feudals’ party yet he would from supporting extension fo quota system to supporting “peoples’ amn committee” to defending corruption and corruot he would stoop to lowest of levels of everything to please his mster

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  • PASHA
    Jul 27, 2013 - 12:08PM

    @Maria:
    well Being PTI supporter means ” Toddler of Political school”, we cant blame you if could not understand the argument of understand, please keep up following, trying to understand and “Learn”, one day you will understand importance of the rule of law and following the Constitutions you good luck.

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  • Parvez
    Jul 27, 2013 - 1:15PM

    After Mr Asif Ali Zardari can this poor country sustain another PPP president ? Even if he were a saint it would be asking too much for the people to swallow……….boycott is your fi-leaf to repectabality.

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  • F Khan
    Jul 27, 2013 - 1:42PM

    Taj Sahab I do not recall you wrote a article when RR was not given a Senate Chairman ticket by PPP when he was the most deserving.This is PPP tragedy all the PPP good guys like RR, TH, AA, NA will never get tickets….the incompetents like gilani’s, raja’s, awan’s and the khoso’s will always be the front face.PPP is still not learning. Take an example of QAS. With what has happened in Sindh during the last 5 years and the gentleman still gets a new term as CM Sindh. If this is the attitude within PPP then I do not see them coming back even after 10 years.

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  • Innocent
    Jul 27, 2013 - 3:18PM

    My dear Mr. Haider, you could go to court rather than harp about it here. Admit it, you just want to make the court controversial.

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  • Khan
    Jul 27, 2013 - 6:08PM

    @PASHA:
    A politically mature person would always reply with an argument instead of name calling … PTI being second most popular party in the country means their voters are much mature who instead of voting based on family affiliation voted for judging previous political parties by what they have done for the country. Rest be assured none of PTI Walas have come from the sky and are neither new but have only used a little brain while voting and will use it again next time after seeing how these parties follow on their manifestos.

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  • confused
    Jul 27, 2013 - 6:34PM

    PPP has no right to complain for any injustice. Their tenure was and is full of much greater injustices. Infact with such a horrific track record they must adopt to go into complete hibernation. We have absolutely no soft corner for them.

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  • A Pakistani
    Jul 27, 2013 - 11:00PM

    What an irony that while the handful of PPP stalwarts are crying foul over a certain defeat, it’s Co-Chairman & incumbent President of Pakistan is enjoying “private” visit to UK to recount his properties in UK & France and wealth stacked in Swiss banks!!
    “Democracy is the best revenge” and Pakistanis will certainly take revenge from the ill-gotten wealth ofBhuttos & Zardari’s.

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  • Waqas
    Jul 28, 2013 - 4:22AM

    Dear PPP haters, no matter how much u love to blame this party for everything but fact remains a fact,no one has the right to decide cases without listening to all the concerned parties and i think PTI should also raise their voice against this clear biasness by our respectable CJ Mr. Abu Arsalan. PPP’s wrong doings should be punished by due course of law, but then again the track record of SC is getting more and more tainted. I think time will tell that the apparently law abiding CJ has damaged this institution beyond repair. I hope and pray he doesn’t get an extension and this black era of judicial activism ends here.

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