LAHORE: Left parties and human rights activists have demanded an end to the pre-election rigging and called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan to assert its constitutional authority for ensuring free and fair franchise.
They demanded the state institutions for performing their duty within in their constitutional ambit. Moreover, a complete ban has also been demanded on the proscribed outfits contesting elections.
According to a press release Sunday, the demand was made in a meeting that was attended by member organisations of Lahore Left Front including Awami Workers Party, Pakistan Mazdoor Kisan Party, Pakistan Trade Union Defence Committee, Communist Party of Pakistan, Pakistan Awami Party, Progressive Labour Federation and the National Party.
Human Rights Commission’s spokesman IA Rehman, Saleema Hashmi, CPNE’s General Secretary Jabbar Khattak, WAF’s Rubina Sehgal, Safma’s Secretary General Imtiaz Alam, PILAR’s Karamat Ali, advocate Salman Akram Raja and over 150 leading intellectuals and journalists endorsed a resolution against manipulation of elections and hijacking of electoral process.
“After a decade of an exceptional and an otherwise lame-duck democratic transition over a decade, Pakistan is again witnessing an autocratic hijacking of the whole electoral process by the non-elected institutions,” said the resolution passed during the meeting.
The resolution demanded that the “banned sectarian and Jihadi outfits and the extremists placed in Fourth Schedule must immediately be barred/disqualified from contesting elections and all sectarian and hateful campaigns be banned”.
“All state institutions and officials in the service of Pakistan must keep their oath and subservience to the Constitution, since its violation during the elections damages the credibility and sanctity of the institutions and they must submit to the authority of the Election Commission of Pakistan,” the resolution said.
The resolution further stated that all personnel, be they judicial, civil or military on election duty, must obey the directives of the Election Commission of Pakistan in its efforts to ensure free and fair elections.
“There is no even-playing filed as king’s parties or those co-opted by the powers that be are being backed against those who have run out of favour,” the resolution further stated.
The resolution also called for strict enforcement of code of ethics for the candidates, political parties, state officials performing various election duties. Refrain from imposing curbs on media, civil rights which are quite rampant. It also demanded the NAB to do away with selective accountability for influencing elections.
Voicing concern over the recent terrorists’ strikes in the country, the resolution stated that attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan remind the blanket blockade of the democratic parties in the last elections.
These attacks seem to complement the official efforts to make it impossible for democratic parties to compete with pro-religious extremist parties. So far, the electoral campaigns are marred by abusive and frivolous issues and are mainly focused around corruption, targeted mainly against former prime minister and PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif amid clumsy comparisons of governmental performance of various ruling parties, the resolution said. These narratives are the provocative ideological onslaught of extremist and sectarian parties, which is undermining the mainstream democratic parties.
All the major parties are married to liberal market economy and an unequal and unsustainable development model with no clear foreign and security policies. They do offer some reformist crumbs to the poor, but not a real social change. The resolution demanded provincial autonomy as required by the 18th Amendment, and support devolution of power to the grassroot level.