EDITORIAL: It’s shocking that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has not done anything beyond issuing hollow, politically correct statements to salvage its credibility after a very poor show during and after the Feb 8 election.

It’s defence that a delayed result does not necessarily mean a doctored result is only half true. Because, while there’s no doubt that accuracy must take precedence over timing, there’s still more than enough to suggest that things went very wrong in some places when votes were being counted. And it must be established without any further delay whether all the breakdowns were the result of simple incompetence, or if there was an element of willful corruption as well.

It’s true that losers have always disputed election results in this country. But this one saw the novelty of at least one winner rejecting the outcome as well as Jamaat-e-Islami’s Hafiz Naeemur Rehman forfeited his provincial assembly seat in favour of a PTI-backed independent candidate; refusing the “charity” and making claims about “the worst rigging” of any election.

There are also far too many discrepancies in Forms 45 and 47 to go unaddressed by ECP. As such, caretaker PM Kakar’s remarks the other day, implying that disputed elections were the norm in the country and everybody should just get on with business as usual, were in particularly bad taste.

Even with a caretaker occupant, the highest office in the land should not echo excuses that this election was more or less a repeat of the last one but with the winners and losers changed. There was, of course, enough to suggest that the previous general election was similarly compromised.

But that should have made the present setup even more focused on delivering a transparent election and undisputed result this time. And it speaks volumes that not only did that not happen, there now seems an effort, all the way to the very top, to brush all the mistakes under the carpet. This is unacceptable.

Now the ECP is squarely to blame as the courts are burdened once again with putting their regular business aside, adding to their huge backlog of cases, and sorting out claims about election fraud. All this is even more unfortunate because the country was counting on the election to deliver a strong government that would be able to negotiate the next IMF programme and guide it out of its many crises.

Now everything is up in the air, with the market also gyrating before stabilising. There is, quite clearly, an urgent, desperate need for better sense to prevail. The political elite is in this fight to protect the interests of the people and the country at the end of the day. And since both are at stake, they must put everything else aside and make sure all misunderstandings are cleared before moving any further.

A weak government that functions under the cloud of illegitimacy will not be able to steer the country out of its many, many problems. The ECP must come clean about everything that went wrong and why. And then politicians must make sure that the right results, whatever they may be, are accepted.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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KU Feb 16, 2024 12:13pm
Since when did a public sector entity had credibility? The shameful reality is that an organization established to ensure election transparency has done exactly the opposite, corrupt practices rule.
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