Editor’s NOTE: The following op-ed, penned by me, was originally published in The Nation on August 8, 2015. I’m pleased to cross-post the article on my blog from The Nation without any editing. (Ali Salman Alvi)

PTIPakistan Tehreek Insaf parliamentarians have made their way back to Parliament after facing stiff resistance from Maulana Fazlur Rehman-led faction of the JUI and the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement after PTI’s claim, that General Elections 2013 had been systematically rigged and manipulated to rob the party of power, were put to rest by an inquiry commission headed by Chief Justice Nasir ul Mulk. Imran Khan and his party strongly believed that their mandate was stolen by the PML-N & Co and thus they were deprived a chance to come to power. Rejecting election results have been a familiar trend in Pakistan’s political arena since 1970. The parties which lose elections come up with rigging allegations and refuse to accept the results. Against the alleged rigging in the 2013 general elections, the PTI organised a long march last year which left Lahore on August 14 and reached the capital on August 16. The long march was followed by a sit-in which lasted over 126 days. The sit-in was called off when a group of terrorists attacked the Army Public School in Peshawar which left 150 dead including 132 schoolchildren.

During a year old campaign Imran Khan vehemently accused former Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry, former caretaker CM Punjab Najam Sethi, the PML-N, the ECP and returning officers of hatching a conspiracy to bring Nawaz Sharif to power by manipulating the mandate given by the people of Pakistan. However, Imran Khan lost his case before a panel comprising of three judges of the apex court which was formed to probe General Elections 2013 against rigging allegations as an indirect result of an agreement between the PML-N and the PTI.

In one of his interviews Imran Khan alleged that a brigadier of Military Intelligence was among those who rigged the general election against the PTI. When Mr Khan was asked to name that officer, he said that he will name him in his next public speech. His followers kept on waiting for the announcement of the MI’s brigadier’s name, but that never happened. The former captain hopped to other targets instead of naming the army officer. Notwithstanding repetitive demands from different quarters, Imran Khan neither named that army officer nor he dared to reiterate that claim ever again.

BBThe 1990 general elections are the only polls in Pakistan’s electoral history which were proven to have been systematically rigged and engineered according to the verdict issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the Asghar Khan case. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was the victim as ISI robbed her of power by bankrolling a group of politicians. It was proven that the military establishment created and funded a coalition known as the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) whose sole purpose was to prevent Benazir Bhutto’s PPP from winning the 1990 elections. In its short order issued on Oct 19, 2012, the apex court directed the federal government to take appropriate action under the Constitution and the law against former army chief Gen (r) Aslam Beg and former DG ISI Lt-Gen (r) Asad Durrani for their role in facilitating a group of politicians to ensure their success against the PPP in the 1990 elections. Aside from that, another former DG ISI, Lt-Gen (r) Hameed Gul openly accepted responsibility for creating IJI in an interview with renowned anchorperson Asma Shirazi back in October 2012. In his interview, Hamid Gul not only defended the creation of the IJI, but also lauded General (r) Aslam Beg’s role in creating it. In the 141-page detailed verdict authored by the then Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the Supreme Court held that unlawful orders by superior military officers or their failure to prevent unlawful actions by their subordinates were reprehensible.

The verdict also explained why the apex court had ruled that the 1990 general elections were polluted by the dishing out of millions of rupees to a particular group of politicians just to deprive the people of being represented by the representatives elected by them. The verdict also highlighted details and names of the recipients of the money dished out by the ISI as mentioned by the then DG ISI Lt-Gen (r) Asad Durrani in his affidavit filed on July 24, 1994 and the majority of my readers would know that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s name is among them. Not only that, he benefited the most from the 1990 general elections, polluted by the military establishment, and went on to become the prime minister of the country.

Nawaz Sharif led the IJI

Nawaz Sharif led the IJI

In the name of ‘reconciliation’ the then PPP government shied away from honouring the verdict. Free and fair elections in Pakistan will remain a distant dream as long as the culprits pointed out by the Supreme Court of Pakistan are not taken to task. The politics of reconciliation has reduced the PPP to interior Sindh only and if the party doesn’t mend its ways, it may lose its fort to the policy of reconciliation being followed by the party. The key to free and fair elections in Pakistan lies in the verdict given by the apex court in the Asghar Khan case and not in the report issued by the inquiry commission headed by Chief Justice Nasir ul Mulk. If the political parties in general and PTI and PPP in particular are sincere with democracy and wish to see free and fair elections in future, they should go to the apex court to get the verdict implemented in letter and spirit the court has issued almost three years ago. Because the same verdict says that “In upholding people’s right, this court can make all necessary directions to functionaries and institutions of the state, including the Election Commission of Pakistan, and the direction to investigate and prosecute.”

The onus is on the PTI and the PPP to pave the way for free and fair elections in 2018. If they don’t act now in the right direction, it’ll be the ruling PML-N that will make the most out of their inaction, flawed policies and ill-directed strategies. And in that case it’ll be a matter of surprise to none; if the PML-N comes to power again after the next general elections.

Source: Elections and rigging

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