In January 2011, or perhaps well before, one of Pakistan’s most nearest and dearest cricketers, Imran Khan began his election campaign for May 2013. The campaign hit home; his slogans were change “tabdeeli” and “insaaf” justice – what more could a change-deprived, justice-deprived society ask for? The election campaign was fervent and alive, with marches being held all over Pakistan – Imran Khan was the new kid on the block, and had revived the passion in our hearts, particularly of the youth who believed that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was the way forward for positive change in Pakistan. Imran Khan himself believed that the judiciary was free, and that the Election Commission of Pakistan was a reliable and trustworthy institute which would ensure free and fair elections.
However, on the 7th of May 2013, Imran Khan took a mighty fall from an unstable stage during one of Tehreek e Insaf’s marches, which perhaps was to indicate the coming fall in the May 2013 elections. The injury to Pakistan’s national hero was enough to ignite even more love and passion for their savior, and many Pakistani’s came out of their houses to vote, despite the terror threats. Karachi’s citizens, ignoring the increased risks to their lives, still came out to vote and fought with Returning Officers at certain polling stations where voting was being illegally restricted. Despite the numerous voters who came to vote for Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf on 11th May, what exactly went wrong? Why did Imran Khan not become the Prime Minister as he so confidently stated to Shahzeb Khanzada on National Television “I write this down for you that in the 2013 May elections, PTI will ‘In Sha Allah’ sweep.” For this, we have to rewind time to understand what happened during the months that led to the May Elections.
On 13th November 2011, Imran Khan declared with much vehemence that every worker of PTI would come to the streets if any attempt was made to sabotage the free and fair elections of 2013; “In case the elections are bulldozed through invalid electoral rolls, rigging or by any means, I hereby declare that my party will hold nationwide protests and will sabotage all cities of the country.” In layman’s terms, a long march would be held to protest against rigging. Before the elections were took place, we are all glued to the screen as we watched returning officers hideously mock the scrutiny process. Yes Article 62 and 63 were emphasized upon, but were the conditions of the scrutiny of these articles to ask candidates to recite Surah Al Falaq? Or perhaps was the criteria of testing one’s credibility according to Articles 62 and 63 was to see if they could name 15 fruits in English? Or perhaps it was to declare love to one’s wife? This was the mockery of Articles 62 and 63 which we were horrified to witness, and not a single politician, contesting in elections, spoke against this. Every single fake degree holder was freed, tax defaulters and loan defaulters were declared clean; what was the party that valued justice doing to prevent such injustice to two sacred articles of the constitution? Nothing. Imran Khan’s silence at this key moment perhaps cost him his victory – he would be competing against the same corrupt people who had been declared eligible candidates by the Election Commission of Pakistan. Perhaps we should have understood that such incompetence was to be expected from a system that was being run by the 85 year-old Fakhruddin G Ebrahim and the 83 year-old Caretaker Prime Minister, Mir Hazar Khoso.
One may like to give Imran Khan the benefit of the doubt that, perhaps he was unaware of the scrutiny drama being played on our television screens as national entertainment. However, the benefit seems much too generous when on 18th March 2013 on Nuqta e Nazar, Khan stated “this is utterly pre-poll rigging.” If it was known that pre-poll rigging was occurring, two months prior to the elections, then had the wisest solution not have been to refrain from contesting under fixed elections and instead, calling for the promised long march? This would have placed pressure on the Election Commission, the returning officers, the caretaker government, and the Supreme Court to avert the situation by enforcing free and fair elections to give the voter his basic rights. Till date, we are still waiting for the long march. Immediately after the elections, Imran Khan issued a statement expressing his disappointment at the election commission at having failed to deliver free and fair elections and for the shamefully open corruption that took place on the Election Day. Fast forwarding to our current situation, on 21st August, Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf published a document on rigging titled “White Paper” – this press conference discussed the open rigging that took place in May, and provided solutions to prevent rigging from occurring in next elections. However, having witnessed, and having accepted that elections would not be free and fair under the current electoral setup, PTI baffled us all when they contested again in by-elections the very next day!
Immediately after the May elections, without any guidance from their leadership, young, charged Insafians protested in various cities and demanded a re-election. The same occurred a day after the by elections where Insafians protested on Mall Road but were stopped to do so. Of course this is undemocratic and I understand the injustice that PTI are suffering, but the phrase “too little too late” comes to mind. The new Government has come into power and all decisions are in their hands, even if some decisions are undemocratic. If PTI had held protests before elections, guaranteed the results would have been much more significant and powerful and today’s government may have been PTI’s instead of PMLN’s, as was expected!
So I ask on behalf of the public, as a betrayed voter, why does Imran Khan need to respond to Maulana Fazlur Rehman in his speeches? Why has he now resorted to blaming the Supreme Court, using the phrase “sharamnaak”? Why does Khan keep emphasizing that it was not the Supreme Court but in fact the returning officers which were deemed “sharamnaak?” We, the public, are interested only in knowing how PTI will solve the crisis that Pakistan is facing. We, the public, want to hear PTI’s policies to prevent terrorist attacks in funerals and hospitals of Khyber Pukhtun Khwa, and Pakistan at large. We, the people, want to hear what will be done to improve the economy of Pakistan. We, the people, want to hear when and how unemployment will be tackled and what the solution is. We, the people, want to know when we will begin to receive cheaper commodities. We, the people, do not want to hear about a “Naya Pakistan”, in fact, we, the people, want to know how we will work together to save our current Pakistan. Please, Imran Khan, heed our call.
by Mariya Qadri
Team Operation Pakistan