Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday that the findings of the judicial commission into rigging and vote fraud allegations in the 2013 elections have vindicated the mandate of his party.
The remarks came in a televised address following the release of a 237-page report by the three-member commission that gave a clean chit to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
However, admitting some lapses of the poll supervisory authority, the prime minister said that “apart from the deficiencies-related to the election commission, the 2013 election, in general, was held in a just manner and according to the legal requirements.”
Without naming any group, the premier castigated the protesting parties whose supporters invaded the federal capital in August last year in a bid to dislodge his government through a prolonged sit-in that continued for 126 days. He also asked the same parties to shun the politics of confrontation once and for all.
PM Nawaz regretted that the unblemished general elections were made controversial that brought a bad name to the country internationally. “This is an unfortunate chapter of our history that cannot be easily forgotten.”
While he was asking all the political forces to join him in the nation building, at the same time he admonished his political opponents a number of times in his speech for creating political unrest in the country.
“We are hopeful that those who wasted the nation’s time will learn a lesion now,” the premier remarked in an evident reference to Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) which had been at the forefront of protests against the previous elections’ results.
He said his party and the world at large knew very well that the last election, that brought his party to power for the third time in the centre, was transparent, but it still presented itself for scrutiny for the satisfaction of those who had cast doubts.
“Not only the government volunteered itself for the probe but signed a covenant that it would quit and go for fresh polls if the commission held allegations valid.”
The historic verdict of the commission, the prime minister said, proves that issues are not resolved on streets through protest but in the constitutional assemblies.
In an apparent response to the shortcomings in the election process pointed out by the commission, he said reforming the electoral system had been part of his party’s manifesto.
PM Nawaz said that on his written request, speaker National Assembly formed a bipartisan panel to recommend fundamental reforms in the election system of the country.
According to him, the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms is working on the reforms package and all the political parties should give the panel their active input.
“Countries have to pay a heavy price if they suffer from uncertainty and political unrest,” he said, adding that Pakistan suffered the same throughout its 70 years of history.
“Had there been no interruptions in the democratic process, we would have been at par with developed nations by now.”
It is time, the premier said, to correct the wrongdoings of the past and discourage those who create such uncertainty.
“We do not have time for hollow slogans, emotional appeals and political gimmicks anymore and should be accountable for every minute of our national life,” he said. “We have to ignore the voices that want to lead us astray and should focus towards our bright future.” PM Nawaz said his government had put the country back on track and was striving for the progress of the country.
He listed improvements in the economy, ongoing operation against terrorists to substantiate his claim that Pakistan is way better than it was two years ago when his government took over the reins from the Pakistan Peoples Party in first-ever democratic transition of power in the country from one elected government to the other.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2015.