The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly erupted in anger and disorder the other day as opposition lawmakers staged a walkout, protesting Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf chief Imran Khan’s repeated threats to dissolve the provincial Assembly over the alleged rigging of the 2013 general elections. Imran Khan’s comments are dangerously immature. What does the dissolution of the KP Assembly have to do with the alleged rigging of four National Assembly (NA) electoral seats? His insistence on reverifying these four NA seats is completely illogical. What is the guarantee that the reverification of all four will turn out in his favour? Even if they do, how does that prove that all 272 seats were rigged? Furthermore, if he chooses to go through with his threat of dissolution of the KP Assembly, there is no guarantee his party will be re-elected if there are fresh elections in KP. Imran Khan must understand that his reckless outbursts might soon cause grave divisions within his own party. The few seasoned politicians in his party must be displeased with his statements, and should he dissolve the KP Assembly, one cannot imagine them being too happy with the idea of running for two expensive and time-consuming elections in one year. What’s worse to imagine is that these politicians have not talked him out of such actions, which could mean they are unable to reason with him, and the accusations of him being a dictator within his party would then acquire more mileage.
If Khan feels so strongly about the issue, he should ask his party members to resign, or he should resign. But why is he refusing to strengthen democratic institutions and follow the elections tribunal procedure? Yes, there are delays in the system, which can be frustrating. If Imran Khan subscribes to the rule of law and constitutional and parliamentary democracy – which he claims to – he must pursue that process. That is the democratic way. But he does not seem to understand politics, and especially not parliamentary democracy. Khan must join the parliamentary committee being set up to look into the matter of electoral reform and put forward his party's proposals. There is no gainsaying the fact that the electoral system is replete with anomalies and shortcomings, but then no system is perfect, let alone one in its relative infancy. The issue of the role of the returning officers, for example, is one of several issues that require ironing out. But Imran Khan must address these issues through the proper forums, i.e. parliament and the election commission. Pakistan’s democracy is far from perfect, but the struggle to reach even this point must be respected. His constant calls for street agitation rather than build democracy and blatant disregard of institutions and procedures displays his glaring political immaturity. Perhaps Khan should reflect on what he has achieved in this one year since the elections. He campaigned on a platform of change, believing his own exaggerated hype that his 'tsunami' would sweep the elections, even though he lacked the requisite party machinery and electable candidates and had little constituency work to his party's name. When you fall for your own hype, there is no help for you. Other than cosmetic measures – attempting to spruce up police reform – there is nothing major that one can point to when considering Khan’s party's achievements in this one year of government in KP. His voters and supporters, especially the youth, are increasingly disillusioned.
Election rigging is never excusable under any circumstances, and if proved true, must be dealt with accordingly. However, there are far greater battles to fight at the moment. This current period in Pakistan’s history is a time requiring unity for the struggle against terrorism. KP is currently on the frontline of our life and death struggle against this affliction. Good leadership has a huge role to play in the stability of KP, which in turn, is crucial to the future of Pakistan. Khan’s priorities do not seem in conformity with this critical national task. *
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