Sample the Simple

Published: December 4, 2014
The writer is Executive Director News, Express News. 
He tweets @fahdhusain

The writer is Executive Director News, Express News. He tweets @fahdhusain

As the PTI rolls up its sleeves for protests in key cities, public debate has shifted to the rights and wrongs of the party’s methods. In the fog of political war, the real message is getting hazy. That’s wrong.

In fact, it’s a sin. The mega-turbulence that Pakistan has been experiencing has got to lead up to something better for us. At some point, all this will end, and at that point, we should be better off than we were before the whole thing started. But for this to happen, clarity of goals and objectives is key. That’s a key which seems to have gone missing.

Well, it’s complicated, they say. There’s no solid proof of rigging in the last elections, and Imran Khan’s accusations are wild and unsubstantiated. They also say it is near-impossible to prove such things — this being Pakistan — and Khan should focus on Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and wait for his turn. Pakistan cannot afford this turbulence; parliament is solidly behind the government; military is in no mood to intervene; and therefore the government is under no pressure to concede to Khan’s demands. The lesson, therefore, is that the political cards are stacked against Khan and hence let’s stop all this silliness and get back to the old business of running the state like it has been run all these years. It’s complicated, they say.

Well, no it’s not.

What’s so complicated about righting a wrong — if a wrong has been committed? What’s so complicated about asking for justice? What’s so complicated about demanding a level playing field? And what, indeed, is so complicated about wanting to clean the electoral filth once and for all?

Forget what Khan’s personal and party position is, and forget for a moment the deeply partisan reactions to this position — and just focus on the simplicity of the message: let us right a wrong. Imagine this: you cheat on an exam and get promoted to the next level. If someone wants to determine whether you cheated or not, you say let’s not dig up this past because, you see, I’m already at the next level and it would be disastrous if I were to be brought back, or the exam nullified. So let the cheated past be the past, and move on.

Does that even make sense? Or does that sound so grotesque that it sickens every part of your being? If you are a person who values morality and righteousness; if you are a person who has internalised the sacredness of right versus wrong; and if your parents have instilled a deeply cherished value system in your heart and mind — then you will be revolted by someone who tries to condone a sin. You should be outraged.

So why aren’t you? The situation is not complicated at all. Khan says elections have been rigged. We don’t know. But we should find out. There are ways to find out. So the government should just pick a way, find out, and that’s it. Is that complicated?

Take morality out of politics; take righteousness out of politics; heck, take basic humanity out of politics, and what are you left with? Naked pursuit of power for its own sake. This is what we have reduced our politics to. And this is why there is a loathing for politicians and their slippery, slimy ways. This is why there is contempt for the system that breeds and legitimises such brand of politics. And this is precisely why all the hardened politicians join hands, heads and hearts to protect and preserve this edifice. It provides them nourishment, sustenance and livelihood.

There is a deep rot in the way we do politics here in this country. But what is worse is our gradual acceptance of this rot as a part of our lives. People have resigned themselves to the idea that some things will not change. So why bother, they argue. The law will never be equal for all. Politics will always be a preserve of the few. Power will always corrupt and the corrupt will mostly get away. The system will remain broken and up for sale. The government will always be inefficient and the police will always be a coercive force. This is part of our culture, you see. That’s how life is in rural areas and city slickers cannot fathom the harsh realities of life in Pakistan.

Such arguments have poisoned our minds and dulled our hearts. But they cannot extinguish the deep human desire for a better life. This better life will flower only through a sustained and deliberate effort to break the shackles of tradition. These traditions will weaken, and ultimately shatter, when fresh alternatives are offered, and a new way to do things is put in place. This new way will have to be built on the most fundamental of all human desires: right must prevail over wrong.

So it is not really complicated. If an election was stolen, it must be rejected. Simple. If Khan, his party, and everyone else just focus on this one point, the situation will indeed remain uncluttered. Yes absolutely, the PTI is making a mess of its Plan C, by bad planning, confused messaging and clouded thinking, and in the process hurting its cause. In fact, the PTI has done much to complicate the simplicity of its basic message. There are clearly some shockingly incompetent people around Khan, and their shockingly muddle-headed strategy is costing the cause dearly. There will be much back and forth between the government and the PTI in the coming days, and much turbulence if Khan comes true on his threat. Mistakes will be made, and a price will be paid. Narratives will get murky as events generate their own dynamics and the country goes deeper and deeper into a rabbit hole. The fog of this political war will thicken.

But the simplicity of the basic message must slice through this dense fog: we must know if the elections were rigged. Right must prevail over wrong. Period.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (39)

  • porus khan janjua
    Dec 4, 2014 - 12:17AM

    ” we must know if the elections were rigged.”
    Fully agreed with you, Sir.


  • Grace
    Dec 4, 2014 - 12:48AM

    I would accept the reports of European Observers and other Westerners before believing Imran Khan or anyone else in Pakistan. Period.The same Imran that shouts out unsubstantiated accusations daily without any concept of reason but just to soothe his bruised ego and lust for power. The US also noted that the 2013 elections were largely fair and free. Of course there will be irregularities and minor rigging here and there but in the grand scheme of stability and progress in Pakistan, we all saw the first peaceful transition of power. An unheard of thought in most Muslim countries who prefer kings, dictators and authoritarian rule! When European observers say that despite irregularities, the winner of the 2013 elections would still be Nawaz Sharif, I accept it and I know in the greater good of the country, it is far more important for this imperfect democracy to continue on. Yes we can keep trying to improve the process, make it more transparent, introduce biometrics and more. However being a sore loser and inviting the military to again sink the ship is unconscionable. The Quaid saw Pakistan as a constitutional democracy but we have seen dictators lord over this country for decades and some want to quibble after 1 year of an elected government? There is no quick fix. Just work within the system and see how this country will grow and progress without childish Dharnas.


  • raider
    Dec 4, 2014 - 12:55AM

    starting with question “election were allegedly rigged,so four constituencies should be investigated as sample” have turned out to be imminent withering and death of patronage,dynastic status quo. cynics plz: failure and minus IK would be more horrible than successful IK, plz think for a movement what would left behind,thank u imran khan for people be get acquainted with term status quo now carrying a hole in its bottom.


  • MA
    Dec 4, 2014 - 1:22AM

    Finding if elections were rigged is not the job of the government, it is the job of the COURTS! Dharnas should be outside the courts if they are not moving fast enough. And when they pass judgement, it is time to move on even if you don’t agree. Please don’t bring religion in to it by calling it a sin if you have any respect for your religion!


  • Wrong equation
    Dec 4, 2014 - 1:35AM

    “If someone wants to determine whether you cheated or not, you say let’s not dig up this past because, you see, I’m already at the next level and it would be disastrous if I were to be brought back, or the exam nullified. So let the cheated past be the past, and move on.”
    Wrong equation. It is much simpler to check cheating in an exam and punish an offender than determining the fairness of elections.
    The Supreme Court is already looking into it but you have glossed over that.
    Get fair.


  • Ranjha
    Dec 4, 2014 - 1:35AM

    Fahd, the proof is wafting in the air! If you have to pinch your nose to survive the odour, the source of the stench is obvious. What other proofs do you need?

    Full speed ahead Imran. We are all with you and will fight with our pens, bodies and pocket books!


  • Bilal
    Dec 4, 2014 - 1:52AM

    Yup! The election was rigged!


  • Blithe
    Dec 4, 2014 - 1:53AM

    “There are clearly some shockingly incompetent people around Khan, and their shockingly muddle-headed strategy is costing the cause dearly. ”

    I am sick and tired of such arguments . IK is 62 plus years old. He is the village idiot , not his advisors!


  • Grace
    Dec 4, 2014 - 3:08AM

    The message seen clearly through the fog is that Imran Khan is a VIP rich kid who thinks he is above the law and thinks he can shut down the country. I don’t even care about the elections any more. All I see is a stubborn man who wants to drag down the country because of his megalomania and ego. We all need to say No to Imran Khan and say Ro Imran Ro!


  • nobody
    Dec 4, 2014 - 3:29AM

    Wonderful, as always Fahd! Keep on writing please – after all the pen is mightier than the sword. A day will certainly come when those who continue to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to injustices around them will wake up and boot this rotten system out once and for all.


  • Sro
    Dec 4, 2014 - 4:23AM

    We are sick and tired of hearing about the elections. They took place over a year ago and no one cares about them anymore. We want the government to fix the economy and set this country on the path to progress. Politicians and their lackeys can worry about the purity of elections at the time of the next elections and not before.

    I should like to point out that if the economy was in good shape politicians wouldn’t find it so easy and cheap to rent crowds like they currently do. Perhaps that’s why they prefer a dharna economy over a strong and prosperous one.


  • Biased
    Dec 4, 2014 - 5:17AM

    Another biased article. Fahad just wants to bash the Government, period.


  • ObserverUSA
    Dec 4, 2014 - 5:38AM

    Wherever a certain party is dominant it can and often does intimidate the presiding staff and rigs the vote in its favor. I have seen this happening, personally. This is very common and would continue in the future, no matter what reforms are enacted. So elections would always be rigged, given the dishonest orientation of most Pakistanis. No single party has a monopoly of rigging elections in its favor; it all depends on where it is dominant. For example, PTI’s winning of majority seats in KP was because of its dominance there.
    So, it is difficult to prove that the overall elections results were “stolen.” Even the Courts or any judicial commission won’t be able to prove it.


  • Propaganda
    Dec 4, 2014 - 5:53AM

    ET has become a mouthpiece of anti-Government propaganda.


  • Oversimplification
    Dec 4, 2014 - 6:40AM

    @Wrong equation:
    Such oversimplification to prove a point raises questions about the fairness and credibility of the author.


  • Quote
    Dec 4, 2014 - 7:01AM

    To quote Napier Mole from his other comment about another author:
    ” Hence, I am disappointed to see such hagiographic article coming from a scholar who would be expected to take a more balanced approach.” The word “scholar” in the quote may be substituted with the word “journalist.”


  • Slant
    Dec 4, 2014 - 7:18AM

    Given the slant of the write up it is possible that what Neha Ansari said is ringing true.


  • Xman
    Dec 4, 2014 - 7:35AM

    Author triying to “over simplify” things. Only elections in Punjab were rigged, while KPK had the most free and fair elections in the history of Pakistan? So if this system is so “rotten” why doesn’t IK and his PTI resign from KPK government?


  • babar
    Dec 4, 2014 - 7:39AM

    Above all of this, is a paradox for the government, the masses at large are slowly but surely getting a strong sense of perception that “yeah, there must have been something wrong with the last elections that the government is shying away from”, when IK moved towards Islamabad on august 13, despite being a strong IK supporter, the first thing came to mind was “what a waste of time IK, how could you have won in Punjab, its a PML den”?. However 110 days down the road, now for me at least, “there seriously is something wrong with 2013 elections”. The Wrong must be corrected, this is the right time. Enough of this. Go Nawaz Go.


  • ObserverUSA
    Dec 4, 2014 - 9:34AM

    And, if you were witness to it, why did you not report the matter? Still there is time, present the evidence to the SC, which is presently making that determination. Thank you.


  • Tariq
    Dec 4, 2014 - 12:26PM

    A good write up but it reveals the writer’s confused mind as well. He seems to be in hurry to jump to conclusions and he as writer is desperate to impose his own point of view. He is trying to get things clear for the readers but he makes them further complicated and merely pushes the readers towards pessimism. It also contains some sweeping statements that do not become a balanced writer or journalist, for that matter.


  • OK
    Dec 4, 2014 - 12:57PM

    Well written. It is time to move on from the issue of electoral fraud. The Govt must now do the necessary audit quickly, fairly and transparently so that we can all move…. on with our without PMLN.


  • Napier Mole
    Dec 4, 2014 - 1:05PM


    Thanks. I appreciater follow up!!


  • Tiger
    Dec 4, 2014 - 1:34PM

    Fahd Hussain
    You are a smart guy. We expect more intelligent articles from you. Yes— there is a rigging issue…but there is a lot more to the story than that.

    Isn’t the example of the exam more apt with some inclusions:

    Imagine that you cheat on an exam and get promoted to head boy. The previous head boy who, using force, has become head boy many times in the past is angry that you are the head boy. So he sends an honest popular student (who happens to be very naive and prone to being used) to protest in front of you… it is a facade to think this about NS and IK… it is an illusion to think NS has real power

    Mr. Hussain— read Linz and Stepan on Democratic Consolidation… My take on it is that Democratic Continuity matters more than rigging at this time in Pakistan.


  • ajmal shabbir
    Dec 4, 2014 - 1:44PM

    this article is thinking matter for political elites,military establishment and masses.fundamental point has raised and discussed .


  • Parvez
    Dec 4, 2014 - 1:47PM

    In a line of excellent opinion pieces this does stand out.
    I feel the matter has gone a step further….the people really are not looking at things improving once this system goes. Because this system is so corrupt and inept and gives the people NOTHING …that they are even willing to cut their nose in order to spite their face.


  • ishrat salim
    Dec 4, 2014 - 2:08PM

    @Wrong equation:

    Sorry…SC is still sitting on the request sent by the govt on 13 Aug 14, for constituting a judicial committee. It, thus become incumbent on the govt to pursue this not IK. So, pls understand before giving sweeping comments, which seem to be just for the sake of commenting.


  • ishrat salim
    Dec 4, 2014 - 2:24PM


    The report by the international observer was already published which exposed many glaring deficiencies in the election process affecting result thereof. FAFEN being one of the member of this group has more than once requested EC to publish form 14, 15 & 16 on their website but till today not yet done..why ? these documents are enough to expose & confirm irregularities in the election process. Beside, EC has been further exposed of their mismanagement in giving controversial statements, the recent being with regard to printing of ballot papers. After IK / PTI put up power point white paper on extra printing of ballot papers in the press conference on 30 Nov, same day EC claimed that it was 0.5 million, then next day 0.8 million & on 2 Dec the figure was 9.8 million. Beside this, many other accusations have either been self-contradictory by EC themselves in order to justify their point which is exposing their unfair, mismanaged conduct of election process of 2013….this need to be probed by SC JC which IK / PTI & the govt agreed & the govt even sent request to SC on 13 Aug,14 for formation of JC, but why it has not even started is every ones guess…the ball is in the court of SC & it is incumbent upon the govt to follow up on this important issue, if they are really interested to resolve this thorny issue at all or keep on dragging it, which will be disastrous for our country, for which only the govt of PML N will stand to loose…& SC will loose its integrity for being a passive spectator.


  • ishrat salim
    Dec 4, 2014 - 2:33PM


    IK / PTI has more than once stated that if the election is proved to be rigged ( including KPK ) & it is declared null & void, automatically KP govt will also be wrapped up as new election will have to be announced So, think before you write.

    The writer is right when he says to right a wrong is NOW…so why should we not go into the verification process including electoral reforms to make things transparent for all future election…why people so obsessed with IK ? because they do not want to face the truth & reality, as it does not effect their life styles, it is only the poor who suffers in every way, so why should they be bothered to change a system, which according to them is fine….


  • salman
    Dec 4, 2014 - 4:24PM

    Just one question bro. If there was no rigging, why are people like Saad rafiq taking stay orders to avoid vote verification? I mean if they won cleanly, they should welcome vote verification with open arms? no?


  • Wrong equation
    Dec 4, 2014 - 9:37PM

    @ishrat salim:
    The PTI has gone to SC over the rigging issue. Hence it is PTI’s responsibility to pursue the case. Please get your facts straight before you start criticizing for the sake of it.


  • sterry
    Dec 4, 2014 - 11:55PM

    @Wrong equation: The facts don’t matter to frenzied PTI trolls who think they have a monopoly on calling others corrupt. If you ask me, the leaders of the PTI are the most corrupt including Chaudhry Shujaat and Shaikh Rasheed. There is no doubt in my mind that the “Naya Pakistan” faces of these familiar politicians did more election cheating than anyone else. PTI should be renamed sore loser and anarchy party because that is all they want.


  • observer
    Dec 5, 2014 - 2:22PM

    Imagine this: you cheat on an exam and get promoted to the next level. If someone wants to determine whether you cheated or not, you say let’s not dig up this past because, you see, I’m already at the next level and it would be disastrous if I were to be brought back, or the exam nullified. So let the cheated past be the past, and move on.

    OK, buddy. Let us dig up some past.

    A. A rank usurper deposes the legitimate PM. The PM is put in jail and later exiled.

    B. Another PM is already in exile and her husband is in jail on charges that never get proved. Incidentally, this PM also gets conveniently assassinated.

    C. A third wannabe PM hobnobs with the usurper and becomes his blue eyed boy.

    D. While the other Political Parties and Politicians are suffering persecution, the wannabe has state patronage and a field day.

    E. Yet the wannabe loses and then starts crying for a ‘Level Playing Field’.

    So who is/ was at the next level in this ‘Cheating’, PLEASE

    Moderator ET- I hope recent history is not against your comment policy.


  • Humza
    Dec 5, 2014 - 8:54PM

    @observer: I agree with your analogy of the sore loser syndrome of the PTI. It would be easier to follow if you said imagine this. The whole world says that a match outcome was fine despite minor issues. In particular the audience includes European and American observers who are more objective and fair than emotional people in Pakistan. Despite losing the match, the losers decide to scream and cry “cheat” even though they went along with the outcome initially.Now the losers want to destroy the game and the stadium because they feel they have been cheated. Is this fair?


  • best comment
    Dec 5, 2014 - 10:15PM

    So far the best comment.


  • ishrat salim
    Dec 6, 2014 - 12:27AM

    @Wrong equation:

    No! you get your facts right. It is the govt who sent a rqst to SC for formation of 3 member judicial commission on 13 Aug, 14, after NS spoke on TV on 12 Aug 14, hence, it becomes incumbent upon the govt to pursue it…SC is reported to be sitting on it on an apprehension that as per article 225, it is the election tribunal who has to verify, but they seem oblivion of the fact that election tribunal is responsible for cases pertaining to particular constituency only not the whole country…..SC hence, has neither returned govt rqst with any valid reason nor acting on it. So, what do you have to say ? go & get your facts updated…


  • Grace
    Dec 6, 2014 - 12:44AM

    @best comment: Best comment on how PTI can’t accept reality and wants to destabilize the country to seize power after losing game.


  • Sheikh Sa'adi
    Dec 6, 2014 - 11:12AM

    What’s so complicated about righting a wrong — if a wrong has been committed? What’s so complicated about asking for justice? What’s so complicated about demanding a level playing field?

    Nothing at all. In fact ‘Righting a Wrong’ is most laudable. So tell me,

    A. When will the wrong perpetrated via the 2nd Amendment be righted?

    B. And when will women get justice and deliverance from the Hudood Laws?

    C. And when will all Citizens of Pakistan have a level playing field for the office of President and Prime Minister.

    Or, all such goodies only for the Kaptaan and Sheikh Rasheed?


  • Wrong equation
    Dec 6, 2014 - 10:13PM

    @ishrat salim:
    The proper forum is the election tribunal where case is being pursued by PTI. See:
    Even against the Constitution and to resolve IK’s complaint: “It is the govt who sent a rqst to SC for formation of 3 member judicial commission on 13 Aug, 14…”
    The Govt. cannot force the SC to move unconstitutionally. But Imran wants an unconstitutional ruling.
    The proper forum is the election tribunal let PTI prove allegations there. But meanwhile disrupting the country is harming the country immensely. But for selfish reasons PTI, its backers, and its supporters do not really care about the country; they just want to grab power in which they shall fail eventually.


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