The presidential election in the country, which should have been a calm, constitutional and dignified event, has been reduced to something of a farce as a result of a string of unnecessary blunders, which have followed each other in quick succession. The date originally set by the Supreme Court (SC), August 6, and followed by the Election Commission of Pakistan in announcing the election schedule, was always problematic given that it fell during the last week of Ramazan, when many legislators are likely to be sitting in itikaf or are away on Umrah. Estimates have said that around 100 would not vote.
But even given this, the PML-N plea for an extension was unnecessary, given the way the numbers panned out. Its numerical strength in legislatures is such that it would have won the contest anyway. The SC then moved the date to July 30, followed by perhaps, the worst blunder of all: the PPP’s poorly thought out decision to boycott the process, with its candidate, Raza Rabbani, announcing a pullout from the contest, mainly over the apex Court’s failure to hear it before setting a date. Yes, all sides should be heard — but in the light of the broader political good, the decision not to take part is harmful, all the more so, since the final result is a predetermined reality anyway. The only issue of political interest is the MQM support for the PML-N candidate, Mamnoon Hussain, and the possible future repercussions of this.
Indeed, all the haste we are seeing, rather like the fast forward button pressed on a movie watching device, seems so pointless. With President Asif Ali Zardari’s term expiring in September, the Constitution allows ample time, stretching into October, for the poll to be held. It is hard to understand why this could not have been taken advantage of, and a date set after August 6, avoiding all the controversy and chaos we have been plunged into as a result of the unwise steps taken over a matter that could so easily have been resolved without fuss.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2013.
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