Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) President Ahmed Bilal Mehboob has said that the dependency of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on the executive in order to hold elections in the country is ‘highly concerning’.
Mehboob appeared on the Naya Daur TV show ‘Islamabad Buzz’ with journalist Waqas Ali where he said that it was highly concerning to him that the ECP is dependent on law enforcement agencies for conducting elections in the country. “If at anytime the executive wants to stop elections from taking place in the country, they can do so by withdrawing manpower from the ECP,” he said, lamenting that the ECP has no mechanism or objective criteria to gauge if what the agencies are saying is correct or not.
He said that although it is true that we are facing extraordinary circumstances with the unprecedented flooding which may make it seem like holding by-elections is not possible right now, the reality is that they are very much possible still. He argued that the by-elections could have been phased out in smaller locales, as opposed to everywhere all at once, much like how they are done in India. This way, he said, the law enforcement and security forces could be dispersed all over, without having to dispense too much manpower in one go. He urged political leaders to keep the political temperatures low so that in the future, elections wouldn’t require large amounts of security in the first place.
Mehboob said that the way things were shaping up reminded him greatly of how General Zia-ul-Haq had kept delaying the elections out of fear of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s rising popularity. “It is a possibility that the government thinks that delaying the elections could slow down the tempo of Imran’s popularity,” he said, “But it also makes me wonder if there’s a bigger grand scheme being thought out right now.” He said that he was worried that a plan was being hatched to ‘take care’ of Imran Khan.
“It has happened many times before, it happened to Bhutto, it happened to Nawaz Sharif in 2018 and he was disqualified not only from prime ministership, but also the leadership of his own party,” Mehboob said, adding that a similar ploy could be underway for Imran. He added that Imran Khan is also giving them the opportunity to manage him by openly attacking the courts and the military, but even if he wasn’t, if the authorities and the establishment had decided to ‘manage him’, they would find something out. “When people with authority want to do get someone out of the way, they find a reason to do so.”