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Will there be elections in 1990?

Will There be Elections in 1990?

Elections-1990 have now been fixed on October 24, 1990. It's no use arguing whether the dissolution of National Assembly was legal or constitutional. The crux of the matter is whether elections would be fair and impartial and whether at all they would be held. Despite assurances that elections would be fair by the caretaker Prime Minister there are reasons that the elections would not be free and fair Benazir already charged. "Dishonesty is manifest in picking up my arch enemy as the caretaker prime minister". Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Jatol was defeated in general elections in his home town and was a member of National Assembly only through the courtesy of Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Khar. Mr. Jatoi is one of the biggest landlords of Singh and was know as perpetual prime minister in waiting. Mr. Jatoi assigned two functions to his government: Starting a process of accountability and holding elections. Judging his track record he would not be able to perform either of the functions without taking sides. His choice of ministers in the Federal Cabinet Messrs. Rafi Reza and Khar is a lethal combination to overrun PPP.

The impartiality will be ensured only when none of the caretaker ministers run for elections. The process of accountability must also prove a failure because none among the caretaker government has any credibility. Even political leaders of almost all political parties expressed their doubts about the credibility of caretaker These include Maulana Fazlur Rahman (JUI) Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani (JUP) M. Sajid Naqvi (TNFJ) and Jamaat-i-Islami Chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed. Even Mian Nawaz Sharif expressed doubts that Khar will be a neutral member of the caretaker government. He will try to fufil his cherished desire of capturing power in Punjab using fair or foul means by ousting him from his stronghold. Jamat-i-Islami refused to be associated with the caretaker government at the centre as well as in the provinces.

In countries with weak economies corruption is a way of life. According to a study at present the total black money in circulation in Pakistan is not less than 500 billion. It was as large as 48 percent of the GNP. It is estimated that nearly half of the black money was generated by trade in narcotics and arms. Every regime in Pakistan committed itself to eliminate corruption but none could do it. During Zia regime Pakistan was converted into a kingdom of heroin. How can corrupt people institute enquiries into cases of corruption. "This is a game plan as Benazir has said" to pulverize the political system to discredit all political institutions. To say we gave everyone a chance and nothing worked".

There was much talk of provincial autonomy. Punjab and Balochistan during the short tenure of Benazir declared a kind of war against the Centre. The federal authority was openly flouted. Punjab Government not only set up a bank of its own but also got the Bank of Punjab Bill passed in the provincial assembly against the will of the Centre. Punjab was also planning to have its own TV. Mian Nawaz Sharif's open commentary against the Soviet Union and India, on Nuclear Policy and on Kashmir made a nonsense of the Pakistanis foreign as well as defence policy. Interferring with the provincial autonomy was one of the charges levelled against the PPP government. Surprisingly the first act of the caretaker government was to proclaim emergency and by this act it had the complete sway over all the executive and administrative functions of the provinces. The champions of the provincial autonomy are now just keeping quiet. They not even raised a feeble voice against proclamation of emergency nor they asked how long this emergency would continue.

With regard to duration of emergency Syeda Abida Hussain, Federal Minister for Information clarified that the Proclamation of Emergency would be revoked immediately after the elections. Question arises why to keep the nation in the state of suspension before elections. Elections are normal functions in a democratic society. Emergency imposed by Yahya Khan on November 23, 1971 could be revoked only after 15 years by the Junejo government in 1986. It is essential that exact nature and circumstances should be explained why the caretaker government wants to keep the fundamental rights of the people suspended until elections.

The proclamation of emergency itself is an act of assuming extra ordinary powers. There was no need of emergency in the country. With emergency in force all fundamental rights have been suspended. Even without express suspension of fundamental rights, the state is empowered to make any law or take any executive action which would otherwise be in contravention of these rights. There is apprehension that Sindh would become the victim of sweeping measures which may include preventive detention and the curtailing of powers of the higher courts.

The slogan of accountability will be an exercise in fulfility. After all what happened to the accountability operation of General Ziaul Haq. He kept elections suspended for eleven long years under the slogan first accountability then elections. And what happened afterwards not a single person was punished. This time special tribunals with sweeping powers have been set up. Benazir sharply criticised "Caretakers are not supposed to set up special tribunals". She said "This shows lack of faith in the judiciary, not only the accused presumed guilty but he is also denied the right of the legal counsel".

If accountability has to be credible and not degenerate into victimisation or revenge then Mr. Jatoi, Ch. Shujaat Hussain, Mian Nawaz Sharif and others should also offer themselves for accountability because grave charges had also been levelled against them as well. Elections themselves are the best process of accountability where people are the best judge let the caretaker government should put the misdeeds of the PPP before the people and let them give their verdict.

People wondered whether it would be possible to hold elections in October particularly when Sindh is still experiencing blood bath one after another. Removal of Benazir at a time when she enjoyed full confidence of the house, has atienated the nationalist Sindhi element once again. The first Sindhi Prime Minister was hanged, Junejo who also hailed from Sindh was sent back alive but with a stigma of corruption and Benazir Bhutto had been deprived of power because she belonged to Sindh. It was an insult to the peoples mandate as only the people have the right to seek accountability of their elected leaders.

There is a feeling that a court reference would be sought for the postponement of the elections. One cogent reason is the war in the Middle East. There were unconformed reports that August 6, operation was with the tacit approval of the US which it is sald was unhkappy over Benazir Bhutto's reluctance to grant bases in Pakistan against Iraq (although the US Ambassador has denied this). It is felt that army rule in Pakistan suits the Americans while Gulf crisis is heating up. Secondly, the demarcation of constituencies is on the basis of 1971 census. These should have been made on the basis of 1981 census including the names of all those voters who have attained the age of 21 during this period. In absence of this the election process would not be complete. Thirdly, no one would reconcile with the idea that Benazir was removed only to stage a come back after 90 days. The caretakers know for sure tht dismissing Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister is not enough to ensure her exit from power. She will have to be removed from the scene. Benazir and her close associates can be debarred from taking part in the polls. The accountability process can be prolonged indefinitely to find an excuse for putting off the elections, the PPP can be banned on charges of being anti-national and its leadership put in jail and if none of these measures bring about desired results the facade of democracy may be wrapped up once and for a long time to come.

PHOTO : A Smiling Benazir Bhutto Vacates the Prime Minister House

PHOTO : Caretaker Prime Minister Jatoi - Life long dream realised.
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Title Annotation:Pakistan
Author:Haibari, Iqbal
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Aug 1, 1990
Previous Article:Agricultural Statistics of Pakistan 1988-89.
Next Article:Soaring inflation - source of grave concern.

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