Electoral Violence: A Threat to Democracy

electoral-violence-a-threat-to-democracyWeeks before general elections in Pakistan, different militant groups have stepped up terror attacks against selective political parties. The parties that face direct threats of terror attacks from militant groups are deemed to be progressive and liberal in their agendas. The parties are under attack for what the militants call them being secular and part of the US war in the region.

It is unfortunate to see that these parties are not being allowed to campaign for their respective candidates while all other parties are free to hold election rallies even in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the restive province of Pakistan. At the moment, leaders of almost all political parties are scared and terrified from some kind of invisible threats. Whereas, those of other parties have been addressing massive election rallies in different parts of the country to woo the voters.

Leaders of different parties have been presenting their manifestos in the public gatherings and promising the people to weed out corruption and all other evils from the country, if they are voted to power. At the moment, it appears as if religio-political parties are quite comfortable with their election campaigns as they don’t face any threat from the militants. However, these parties don’t have huge political followings like the parties being attacked by the militants across the country.

The threats have forced the parties to run their campaigns on social, print and electronic media. These parties are running political advertisements at different local television channels and newspapers to woo electorates but the tactic appears to be futile. Pakistan has a specific culture for elections and that is to hold big political gatherings to disseminate the party’s message and manifesto to the electorates. Leaders of different parties are also trying to reach the people through video messages and media statements. However, a few parties, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan, have been reduced to their homes.

The election campaign has just reduced to Punjab, interior Sindh and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Though Punjab has had the maximum number of seats both for national and provincial assemblies but it does not represent the whole Pakistan. For larger interest of the country, the parties should venture into other provinces as well for their campaigns as people of other three provinces are as active supporter of democracy in the country as in Punjab. It is test of the people and parties that how they deal with the prevalent law and order situation.

Critics are labeling the situation as pre-election rigging as the some main political parties are being barred to run their election campaign. They demand that interim government and Election Commission of Pakistan should provide foolproof security to leaders of these parties; so that they could reach the electorates with the messages and manifestos of their respective political parties. If it is not done, a serious question mark on credibility of the elections may arise after May 11. The parties that are being targeted by the militants may resort to any sort of movement after the polls, saying the elections were rigged and they were not provided the level playing field.

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