The assurance that democracy will return soon is a welcome diversion from the current depressing climate. The election machinery has begun to click into place after a rocky start.
Other interested parties have received a signal from the chief justice that there might be a definitive date of February 8, 2024, after the media was warned to stop speculating on election dates.
The three biggest political parties in the nation, the PTI, PML-N, and PPP, have all embraced the news and appear anxious to start the competition, which is good. They should be concentrating more on the impending election than anything else at this time. They don’t have much time to gather and start initiatives that work.
The country is currently in election mode, therefore the ECP should anticipate more scrutiny of its operations. It has a huge responsibility to guarantee that the next elections are free, fair, impartial, and inclusive; if it wants to be remembered for doing its share responsibly, it must perform far better.
There are multiple issues that require quick resolution. For example, it has been claimed that the caretaker government is trying to reorganise the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in a big way even though the election date has not yet been announced. Such meddling with the executive branch needs to end immediately. The assistance of the ECP in conducting a credible election is the only goal that the state should focus on. Right now, anything else is not required.
Second, in order to guarantee a fair competition, the ECP needs to begin making use of its extensive authority. It is hardly a good omen that former National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser was arrested on corruption allegations the day after the results of the elections were declared.
People believe that as long as the PTI and its members don’t follow the line of the establishment, they will be hounded with arbitrary detentions and arrests on false accusations. It is the responsibility of the ECP to end the victimisation of political parties, as there is little moral or legal basis for such treatment.
A fair playing field has been allegedly denied to other parties as well. They contend that the PML-N is being favoured by manipulation of the state apparatus by the caretaker governments and other influential groups.
Asking the public to cast their votes is meaningless if a small number of people will ultimately overturn their decisions. It is imperative that the Pakistani people are granted the autonomy to determine their own destiny. The ECP needs to be aware of these feelings and show that it is making an effort to combat them.