Editorial: June 2013
The Challenges Ahead
Dr. Rasheed Hasan Khan
The badly mismanaged Election 2013 is over, new governments have been installed in the Centre and the provinces. After thirteen years in the wilderness Mian Nawaz Sharif and his Muslim League has returned to power in Punjab and the Centre. President Zardari and the PPP have been able to find refuge in Sind by winning a majority of National and Provincial Seats from Sindh, but the ANP has been literally wiped out not only in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa but in all the provinces. Imran Khan’s TIP ‘s much vaunted Tsunami pitifully petered out, but it managed to win a majority in Pukhtunkhwa and to make a significant dent in the vote bank of established parties like PML(N), PPP and MQM in Punjab and Sindh. Jamaat e Islami threw its weight behind TIP in many critical constituencies, contributing to the success of TIP, but at the national level it put on a very poor show as always. Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s JUI however, managed to win a significant number of seats in Pukhtunkhwa and Baluchistan.
“Change”, was the much bruited about mantra in these elections. But the leaders of TIP and others, who used this mantra, intentionally kept the concept vague, so that it meant different things to different people and neatly avoided focusing on the prevalent system in Pakistan. Election results show that a majority in the National and Provincial assemblies affiliated with the Champions of Change are the same old faces, previously associated with Musharraf, Nawaz Sharif or Jamaat e Islami , with a recent change in political affiliation.
The most note worthy feature of Election 2013 was the wide spread use of explosive devices and lethal violence by religious extremists in Sindh, Pukhtunkhwa and Baluchistan. Before the elections these elements issued a warning declaring their intention of aborting the elections and prohibited three political parties, the ANP, PPP and MQM from participating in the in the elections .This was followed by violence in public meetings and attacks on the offices of the political parties. The resulting paralysis of the election process put the fate of Elections 2013 open to question for a considerable period of time.
There is no doubt that the results of the Election 2013 show the public’s dissatisfaction with the non-performance of these political parties. But to ignore the effect of the extremist’s violence on the election campaigns of these three political parties would be grossly unfair. However, the silver lining in this dark cloud of terror, is that the electorate voted in great numbers despite the threats of violence by the extremists.
Celebration and rejoicing aside, there is no room for complacency for the new government. The problems confronting the government are many and multisided. The savants and the wise men in Pakistan are busy dispensing prescriptions for the salvation of the nation and the guidance of the new government. But we will refrain from indulging in this exercise. However, we would like to point out that if the orientation of the new government’s policies is not towards public benefit, in the short and the long term, it will find the honey moon period evaporating sooner than it can imagine. The people are mired in misery and uncertainty. They want employment and a revival of economic activity; an end to lawlessness and corruption, and an end to the government’s stolid indifference to people’s problems.
Pakistan has acquired Nuclear Bomb but is unable to protect the life, property and honor of the common man; it has built motor ways but is unable to provide electricity for domestic and industrial use. Over 27 million children are out of schools not only due to paucity of educational facilities but also because of the grinding poverty that forces children into child labour, to earn a pittance for the survival of their families. Millions of children are under nourished and thousands die due to curable ailments due to lack of resources. Will the new government demonstrate the will to change this state of affairs? Only time will tell.