The Conundrum Of Horse Trading And Rigging

By Musa Khan.

Elections for 52 seats of the Upper House have been held and winning candidates have been announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan, yet like past, there are serious allegations of rigging and horse trading which will echo for an indefinite time. Indeed, majority of the wealthy and the influential curved their niche in this election that will weaken further the faith of the poor man in the system. This will widen the gap among different political parties and may cause of another judicial coup or sit in. However, a question may arise how to make the electoral system effective and fruitful to improve the belief of the common man as well as of political leaders in it?

Firstly, John Stuart Mill, a political philosopher and champion of civil liberty and political rights, is of the view that democracy can easily flourish in a state if it gives proportional representation to all segments of the society in the parliament.

The same idea was presented by Allama Inayat Ullah Mashriqi, the founder of the Khaksar Movement, when Pakistan came into being. Proportional representation means to allot seats to each segment of the society in the parliament as per their population in a state. For instance, collect data of teachers across the country and allot them seats accordingly. Similarly, apply this formula to women, masons, farmers, professionals and students, etc, and allot seats for them.It will bring two fold benefits. Firstly, the middle class, the educated, the downtrodden and the oppressed communities will not curse parliament as they would have representation in it. And secondly, they would believe in the system and the machinery of the government will run smoothly.

Secondly, India is the biggest democracy of the world,but elections are conducted in phases to bring efficiency and transparency. While in Pakistan, elections are held on the same day for National Assembly and  Provincial Assemblies where it needs more military and paramilitary forces,members of election commission and returning and district returning officers that ultimately lead to failure and rigging. If Pakistan also adopts this principle, it can, to greater extent, control rigging that will finally improve the political image of Pakistan.

Thirdly, so far as elections of the upper house are concerned, there are two possible ways to bring transparency in it. First, Election Commission ought to ask heads of political parties to give names, as per their representation in the provincial assemblies, whom they want to be their senators in the upper house and the election commission would announce them as senators. Second, to introduce direct election for the Senate too as is held for national assembly as well as provincial assemblies.The US also holds direct elections for the upper house but societies like Pakistan, in the latter way, direct elections may also influence and rig and we would not be able to get rid of this rigging puzzle as members of national assembly use money and influence. So, to me, the former option is quite suitable.

Few days back, I met a retired professor of Economics and asked which political party he favors in Pakistan? He said that he does not like any political party and its system where worth of his vote and of a vendor is equal, and that as a protest, he does not cast his vote for a long time. 

Similarly, one of my professors who teaches to the students of MPhil International Relations in a government sector university in Islamabad said that she did not vote in the general elections 2013 because she did not like any political party or their manifesto. Like them, there are hundreds of thousands of people who do not vote in one way or the other.

Hence, it is high time all the heads of the political parties, the democrats and the constitutionalist sat and improve the common man’s faith in the system by bringing drastic changes in the electoral system of Pakistan.

About Author

Musa Khan Nangialey, Social worker and visiting lecturer in the University of Science and Technology Bannu, KP, where he  teaches International Relations. He can be reached at musanangialey@gmail.com

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