Youth Voices

Elections and the Security Challenge

By Hassan Mujtaba

elections 2013
Image source: pakistannislam.blogspot.com

If we make a list of serious ailments haunting Pakistan, then I think that terrorism/extremism would be on the top. Many people would not agree as they would cite unemployment, corruption, economic recession, political instability etc as greater problems than the one mentioned above. However, if you ponder deeply and undertake a thorough research, you will find out that all other socio-economic woes are invariably linked and are a direct proponent of extremism. This is a simple fact which should not be difficult to understand. Terrorism breeds political instability which in turn drives away investors thereby making our economy worse off. Sadly, our state institutions including executive, judiciary, legislator, armed forces etc are having a difficult time comprehending this simple phenomenon. Though, they are trying hard to eradicate the menace of terrorism from our beloved homeland but they are not trying harder and this is clearly manifested in a lack of consensus among all the stakeholders. This institutional weakness has boosted the confidence of terrorists as we witnessed an increase in sectarian violence aimed at our fellow Muslims and atrocities committed against minorities until recently. Amid all this nasty chaos, nation took a sigh of relief (apparently) when the first democratically elected government completed its tenure in the March of 2013. It was hoped that the transition of power would be smooth and peaceful as the nation embarks on the political journey of democracy but everything is not that plain and simple in Pakistan. As the election season began, the conventional terrorists belonging from Tehrek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) openly threatened political parties having a relatively liberal and secular ideology such as PPP, MQM and ANP. Those parties having a soft stance on extremism such as PML(N) and PTI were spared and of course why would they want to harm their favorite leaders in the form of Maulana Fazul ur Rehman, Munawar Hassan, Sami ul Haq etc? A couple of sad incidents have already taken place in the run up to the elections viz. bomb attack on the PML(N) Baluchistan President killing his son, brother & nephew, the killing of a provincial candidate belonging from MQM in Hyderabad, the attack on the house of National Party chief Dr. Malik Baloch, firing at the ANP’s rally in Pishin district killing two party workers and worst of all a suicide blast on ANP’s rally in Peshawar killing 18 innocent people while injuring many including former Minster of Railway Mr. Ghulam Ahmed Bilor. Many analysts have shared their opinion about the present scenario and what it could lead to? It is believed that the basic aim of these terrorists’ activities is to induce fear (as always) among the supporters of secular parties. This will prevent them from attending the rallies of their respective parties and may also hamper their ability to vote on the big day therefore having a devastating impact on the final results of the elections. On the other hand, right wing political parties are conducting their jalsas with full excitement and vigor without any fear whatsoever. This is evident by the fact that the day when a suicide bomber attacked ANP’s rally in Peshawar, a religious cleric belonging from one of the hard liner political parties of Pakistan was openly conducting his door to door campaign in another part of the town without any security. This whole scenario can translate into an election outcome in which those parties which act as apologists for Taliban, SSP, LeJ etc may emerge as clear victors. Parties opposing such cruel and barbarian forces may be the losers. It is the sole responsibility of caretaker government both at the federal and provincial level to provide security to all the candidates belonging from any political party of Pakistan. Besides, adequate measures should also be taken to ensure the security and safety of common voter so that everyone could exercise his constitutional right by casting his vote. A nation gets the chance to decide its fate through general elections and our government should not allow extremists to hijack this precious opportunity from us by strengthening the security apparatus and by proactive action.

The writer is a business graduate and a freelance journalist.