As the dust settles on Pakistan’s general election and Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf prepare to form the government, questions over the conduct of the election, its fairness, remain. While some have lauded the role of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), others are still seeking answers to glaring issues. Michael Clark, CEO of the non-profit Generations for Peace, writes in The Express Tribune on August 4 of the “hopeful and reassuring trends” that have emerged from the elections. “For the first time in the country’s history, transgender Pakistanis were given a legitimate political platform. They were issued party tickets that allowed them to participate as official candidates,” writes Clark. He also lauds the fact that “many Pakistani women, who have constituted for the world’s largest voter gender gap despite having had the right to fill out their ballots since 1956, cast their votes for the first time in the 2018 general elections, making history in regions like Dir, Kohistan and North and South Waziristan”.
The editorial in Dawn on August 2, on the other hand, calls out the ECP, which it says “appears more interested in lashing out at critics of its disastrous performance after the close of polling hours on July 25 than investigating the shambolic vote counting and results transmission processes that so delayed the announcement of preliminary election results.” The three major issues the editorial flags are “the unlawful exclusion of some polling agents from polling stations”; “the failure of the Presiding Officer or ECP in numerous polling stations to issue Form 45 in a timely manner… which lists the votes won by each candidate at the polling-station level” and “the alleged collapse of the electronic Results Transmission System after the close of polling hours”. Dawn welcomes “the decision by the PML-N and the PPP to reject a parliamentary boycott called for by some political elements” but adds that “that decision can have no bearing on how the ECP addresses the significant problems that were apparent on polling day”.
M Haroon Aslam, a retired Lt General of the Pakistan Army, defends the ECP in The Express Tribune on August 3. “Wednesday, July 25, 2018, will be remembered as a day of incredible defiance of the people of Pakistan. They defied all the odds and downsides, including terrorist attacks, to keep them away from exercising their right to vote,” he writes. “The accusations and all the mudslinging against the ECP notwithstanding, it laid out elaborate arrangements for the conduct of free and fair elections in the country,” adds Aslam, ordering at the end of the article that “the political mudslinging must stop”.
Impunity in Bangladesh
The Chhatra League, the student wing of the ruling Awami League, has assaulted peaceful protestors — largely students themselves — in a manner that has left The Daily Star shocked. In its editorial on August 5, the newspaper asked why asking for everyone to follow traffic rules, a legitimate demand peacefully articulated, should invite violent reprisal. And, perhaps most importantly, “Why didn’t the law enforcers intervene?” The transport strike, in response to the protests, is also questioned by the editorial: “In response to the protests by students, the bus owners have been striking causing immense suffering to the commuters. Does this mean they will hold the public hostage whenever the latter tries to hold them accountable for violating traffic rules? In the last three and a half years, such disregard for law and lack of enforcement has resulted in more than 25,000 deaths.” The editorial urges the government to take action and the ruling party to rein in its supporters and cadres.
Nepal makes history
“August 1, 2018,” writes The Himalayan Times on August 3, “is the date many Nepalis will never forget”. Nepal, on this day, played and lost by 55 runs its first cricket One Day International against the Netherlands at the VRA Ground in Amstelveen. However, “there are so many positives Nepal can take,” says the editorial. “Despite growing love and support for the sport, Nepali cricket has been on a sticky wicket for quite some time because “the country’s cricket governing body, has been mired in dirty politics”. “This ODI debut is just a beginning,” writes the editorial, and the players deserve credit for making it to this stage despite the odds. “A win in the debut ODI would have been an icing on the cake,” the editorial states, and sportingly adds “but still… we will cherish this for long”.