Politics & Policy
we expect from our politicians
Building awareness about
the importance of elections and voting
By SEEMA TUNIO
Isra University Hyderabad
Oct 09 - 15, 2000
People living in Pakistan have seen lots of seasons of political
systems like democracy, martial law, and interim governments. Nevertheless, a great
majority of our people supports democracy because democracy, by definition, is the
government of the people, for the people and by the people. But unfortunately that
statement has always remained just a slogan by the politicians before the elections. The
1990s have witnessed the ascendance of a new orthodoxy, which asserts that democracy and
development are mutually reinforcing. However, the so-called democracies are illiberal,
non-participatory, and characterized by lots of inequalities. Pakistan, like other
nations, has been striving towards the formation of a new form of development state that
can promote broad based and equitable development in the context of legitimized democracy.
It can only eventuate if the politicians of our country together with the people try to
achieve this goal.
Honesty, sincerity, expediency, elegance and judiciousness and so forth
are the superlative, positive and good qualities that the public expects from their
political leaders. To pronounce them unscrupulous, corrupt or any bad notion for them is
just impossible in the view of their supporters. Politicians, however, in this country
have often been blamed to be corrupt. They have often been blamed to be feudal lords
having no regard for ethics, well being of their constituents and the nation as a whole.
Politicians are corrupt is the thinking of the general public shortly after the transfer
or devolution of power from colonial rule, some 50 years back. They are blamed for
stagnation in development, rising debt over the years, loosing half of the country,
inter-provincial hatred, inter communal and inter religious skirmishes, and all kinds of
economic ills in the country.
In Pakistan, whosoever is in power trumpets his tune without realizing
that in this electronic age there is nothing to cover the secret or open corruption made
by any individual. The only thing government has to offer is protection of one who exposes
the corrupt, may they be of any cadre or creed. But such an expectation is impossible when
our country is labelled as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, implying that
both the ruler and the ruled are mostly corrupt. None of them realizes that Allah has made
each and every individual equal. He has given every one all the amenities of life and all
the resources to live a decent life. That is why developed countries who import their
needs from our country and sale back same things, in diverse forms, to us so that we
become the protectors of their patents and commission agents to rob our own nation.
So we are in a dire need to find a procedure through which we can
select our leaders. The old methods of selection have been tried but are abused at one
stage or other, or at one place or other. People are now well versed with all good and bad
practices. In the out come of elections both good and bad politicians, feudal lords,
bureaucrats, retired army officials etc have come as winners. But inland and beyond the
borders programmes and policies exploit our resources and make our self passive onlookers,
importers and followers of foreign scrupulous entrepreneurs who can corrupt any one who is
not sincere. The test for politicians, therefore, should be through voters at the polls.
But unfortunately the situation on the contrary is that the politicians who claim to be
our representatives obtain votes through different illegitimate means. Some spend lots
money to purchase votes, while others who have nuisance value harass the poor masses to
get the votes. Some even steal the ballot boxes and stuff into them falsified votes. Their
supporters also cast false votes. Thus our politicians use all types of
"hathcandas" to win the elections. In order to eradicate these outlawed
practices some simple suggestions can help us in minimizing the costs of the electoral
process and make the process more impartial.
Elections and voting
Our whole nation needs a turnaround. We have become shock proof. We
watch Indian channels, Indian movies, and wear western clothes. The Indian culture is very
much incorporated in us. We usually see Pakistanis being abashed by the Indian TV. We
don't feel anything on these harsh remarks passed by them. We don't feel for our country
as our elders used to. Our youth of today is frustrated and lost faith in politics.
Government should create awareness about the rights and duties of general public, the
importance of voting and its effect on them. People generally say, "Elections don't
effect us in any way so why should we bother ourselves". They are behaving like an
ostrich, which borrows its head in the sand and thinks it is free from any kind of danger.
That's why people sell their votes or they don't go to the polling stations at all to cast
their votes. If they will be given knowledge about the importance of their votes, the
menace of selling and buying of votes will eventually stop.
Forming Committees to keep a check on people contesting for
elections: There should be committees to scrutinize the details furnished by the
politicians at the time of filing nomination papers. Information should be collected as to
how much money each politician is spending on the elections, his sources of income and
other relevant detail in this regard. It is a very difficult task but not an impossible
Charging polling fees from the candidates:
generously on the public to entertain the voters at the polling stations and to make
arrangements for their transportation and other expenses. In order to do away with this
practice the government should charge the politicians for these expenditures and then
provide the relevant facilities. This will help eliminate any biases or favoritism for the
politicians by the voters because they are not directly getting monetary support from the
Providing coverage to politicians on media:
should be given coverage on television and radio so as to minimize the expenditures
incurred on rallies arranged by the politicians.
Thus the cheapest way of electioneering will be to give each aspirant
fifteen minute time to talk about his aims, objects and methods of achieving his ambitious
plan. Then have a printed form/booklet of each aspiring politician delivered to electorate
of the area. In villages, where the masses are uneducated, the schoolteachers should be
given responsibility to convey the message of the politicians and their agendas.
Expending Limit should be given:
There should be a limit on the
expenditure incurred by the politicians for the election campaigning but it is necessary
that the government should keep a check on the people contesting for elections. They
should be disqualified from the elections plus debarred from participation in the next
elections if they contravene the above rule.
Organize a brainstorming session: The government of Pakistan should organize a
brainstorming session where all kinds of ideas proposed by a selected group of individuals