Pakistan’s Democracy Faced Yet Another Defeat After Senate Chairman Election
Pakistan is an unusual country in terms of social and political affairs, as is evident from its history. The nation has been a witness to the political instability and chaos that is perpetuated in the name of misguided patriotism and smug-nationalism.
In 1947, Abdul Jabbar khan led government in the then NWFP was removed by federal government and the new government was established with the support of only five members. Abdul Qayyum Khan was made the chief minister of the province. Islamic Jamouri Ithihad (Islamic Democratic Alliance) formed in 1988 is another stain on Pakistani politics. Benazir Bhutto’s government was ended with the help of military establishment, and Nawaz Sharif was appointed as the PM.
In general elections of 2008, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) secured majority of national assembly seats and formed government. Later, the establishment supported Nawaz Sharif’s writ petition against then prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani. He was subsequently disqualified. In general elections of 2013, Nawaz Sharif became the Prime Minister. He opposed the interference of military in foreign policy and Afghan affairs. For his stance against the establishment, the theatrical show of Panama Leaks was staged and Sharif was disqualified for life.
In 2018, Imran Khan became the new Prime Minister of Pakistan after a manipulated election, which many called ‘selection’. Thereafter, a new era of fascism in politics was launched. Censorship persisted and the right to freedom of speech was crushed. The media today faces the worst kind of censorship where only pro-government news is allowed.
In the recent election of Senate’s chairman and deputy chairman, a dirty game was played which insulted our democracy. A day before the Senate chief election, opposition politicians including PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif allegedly received threatening calls. PML-N Senator Hafiz Abdul Karim told media that he was threatened by an unknown caller who told him not to vote for PDM’s candidates.
Addressing a press conference, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abassi, accompanied by Ahsan Iqbal and other opposition leaders, expressed the same grievances and accused top two secret Pakistani agencies of threatening senators. Finally on the day of Senate chairman election, Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokar of PPP and Senator Musadiq Malik of PML-N unveiled the designs of the establishment, and found more than six spy-cameras installed inside Senate hall to monitor polling booths. This was dangerously shocking.
The side that held majority in the Senate lost the Senate chief election and the minority won. Such manipulated results undermine Pakistan’s democracy. The self-declared saviour of democracy PM Imran Khan witnessed dirty horse trading and blackmailing in Senate election, but did not utter a single word to condemn the act. He even supported and called it the success of democracy.
Establishment has always violated the sanctity of parliament by interfering in political affairs.
In the recent senate chair election, the establishment played the same cards to complete the number game. It seems that dozens of Senators were either threatened or paid to support Sanjrani. The returning officer Syed Muzafar Ali Shah disappointedly played pro-PTI role to favour the government’s candidate for Chairmanship. It is clear that the establishment wants to strengthen its power, come what may. Unfortunately, biased and self-centric political parties have always supported establishment’s agenda to de-rail democratic process in the country. Politics of double standards will harm democracy and supremacy of the parliament.
To make our democracy work, political parties need to prioritise democratic principles. If the political leadership does not act maturely, horse trading and manipulation will continue to undermine democracy in Pakistan.