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EDITORIAL: Independent senators submitting resolution after resolution in the upper house, still demanding a delay in the February election because of bad weather and security, know well enough that the Supreme Court (SC), Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), and all leading political parties have already factored in all such concerns and still decided to go ahead with the general election. Why, then, is the senate becoming the centre of such controversy?

Politicians and lawyers that support the democratic process are calling these attempts to derail it a “conspiracy against democracy”. After all, there is enough noise and confusion already. PTI (Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf), the largest and most popular party in the country, is making a case of being targeted by the powerful establishment and denied a “level playing field”.

PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz), which other parties say is being “facilitated” and most pundits have already picked as the winner, has barely started campaigning. Only PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) seems in campaign mode, even though it, too, has offered no solutions to the country’s most pressing problems; only claiming, like all the rest, that it must come to power for everything to be alright again.

To throw a spanner in the works at this fragile time – which is what resolution-submitting senators seem bent upon doing – is going to help nobody at all. So, perhaps the time has come to resolve this issue as well.

Not why elections should be postponed, because that has already been ruled out, but getting to the bottom of the mystery playing out in the upper house lately. What about all those rumours that these folks always line up when behind-the-scenes players want another puppet show in parliament?

Clearly, neither the judiciary nor leading political parties nor, for that matter, ECP is interested in any further delays. And the argument about weather and security holds no weight because there have been elections amid worse weather and much worse security. It is, therefore, up to parliament itself to clear the air.

That will not be immediately possible because a caretaker government busy with the election schedule is in place. But when this business is done and these crusaders for democracy settle in the house for the next cycle, regardless of who is in power and in opposition, there needs to be a thorough debate about outside influence in the legislative process.

The people must know how certain individuals that ultimately answer neither to them nor to political parties are able to breach the senate. Now when the election is finally within sight, though not before violating constitutional deadlines and invoking a warning from the apex court, a handful of senators are making a joke of the whole process, even getting the country bad international press.

The most important thing now, for the people and the politicians, is to scrutinise the transactionary aspect of this process.

What the parties will promise and which of them the people will choose. There’s not much that can be done about the weather, but this is where the security situation, along with other important matters, can and should come under the microscope.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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