Election violations blow the lid off govt claims
By Shahnawaz Khan
Despite the Punjab government’s orders and election commission’s code of conduct, many candidates were seen openly violating all orders and codes. The violations included displaying weapons, aerial firing, attacking opponents’ offices and such incidents.
An election-related brawl occurred on August 13 in union council-94 when nazim candidate Mian Adil and naib-nazim candidate Haider Zaman alleged their opponents had attacked the local election office and tortured one of their activists. Later, they staged a protest and blocked Ferozepur Road with burning tyres. On polling day (August 25), a number of brawls occurred throughout the city in which seven people were killed. A number of clashes, again related to the elections, were also observed after voting was over. On Saturday night (August 27), nazim candidate Dr Liaqat and his sister were injured when their opponents shot at them in a dispute on election results.
A point to ponder is whether these are the type of people and elected officials that constitute the right kind of candidates to lead the public!
Though the city police registered cases and arrested lawbreakers including candidates for different seats in the local council elections. According to official information, city police confiscated 90 weapons (some of which were licensed) and arrested 48 people for violating different rules, including candidates of different seats on polling day. A question that arises is why the city police failed to curb the access of illegal weapons? And what are the obstacles to eliminating illegal weapons?
The attitude of police officials deployed at polling stations was quite offensive towards the public. Talking to Daily Times, some officials, asking not to be named, said, “We have not slept properly for the past 48 hours because our duties started from Wednesday afternoon and will end on Thursday evening.” Some officials even had to work till early Friday morning. At several polling stations, constables and other officials said that they had not eaten anything for 24 hours and could not leave the place under their surveillance. They claimed that the constables were not getting anything to eat but higher-ranking officials had been given specially prepared food by the authorities concerned. Several officials were also reported ill because of their arduous duty of over 50 hours.
The second phase of the local council elections were marked with blood. And gave a new rise to several vendettas. Nine people, including minors, died because of election rivalry or aerial firing. Two people were murdered because of election rivalry in the Manga Mandi area. Similarly in Khana, three people were killed while police claimed that the two were killed because of an old feud. The above incidents raise several questions; will the same ‘erstwhile’ who themselves indulged in aerial firing and rivalries be able to stop the public from doing the same? Are these the kind of candidates that should be leading the public? Will their illegal activities and weapons not encourage others to take the same path – for a ‘successful’ life?
Democracy is achieved through elections, and it gives the people an opportunity to elect representatives of their choice. However, when the public is manipulated and deceived by the very people who are thought to be upholding the law, then what is the public supposed to do.
Being elected as nazim or naib-nazim is not someone’s birthright. It is a responsibility of the highest order. The candidates, or nazims and naib-nazims now, have to not only uphold the law but also be shining examples to lead the rest of the nation. Their position is exalted but highly accountable. However, as the recently gone elections have shown this is not the case. The authorities turning a blind eye to the illegal activities and opponent bashing have encouraged those that seek the path of corruption. The fact that some candidates staked all they had on these elections, and some did not even hesitate to kill to achieve their goals, is a vivid example of how much politics can be twisted and corrupted. Are these the type of people and are these the sort of mentalities that become a public facilitator or representative?
But in all fairness, the system should also shoulder the blame. Conflicting results issued by the returning officers and the district returning officers’ office is also accentuating the problem. Candidates have received two results, a candidate victorious earlier can be declared a loser later and vise versa. This breeds further mistrust and criticism of the government, its departments and the system.