Electoral rigging, insecurity, lack of employment opportunities for youth, poverty and lack of political awareness are some critical issues that challenge very existence of a constitutionally democratic country like Pakistan. Almost throughout the country’s history, electoral fraud has remained a major contributing factor which blocked the process of ensconcing democratic values in this country. The political elites, usually the detested candidates who can’t win by their own are major perpetrators of electoral fraud designed to impose themselves as representatives and leaders of people who actually haven’t voted for them.
The same class of self-imposed representatives inflict pains of poverty, insecurity, bad governance which results in posing grave threats peace, prosperity and progress of Pakistan. This class of politicians clearly lacks any political ideology and are often seen trading basic moral, socio-economic and political values to safeguard their personal gains.
Surely, democracy is a wonderful concept which is anchored on certain values which political parties present to the electorate. However, Pakistan is far from being a democratic nation as democracy being practiced here is all about winning elections by any means.
In countries like Pakistan, where voters are enticed by names of politicians and political parties rather than a political ideology, rigging starts at very start of electoral process i.e. selection of party candidates. Huge payoffs are offered to party officials’ contestants to secure party tickets. Such a process usually schemes out credible candidates who lack the financial resources to match their political opponents.
Political actors/candidates who are usually unpopular but financially sound also spend huge sums during electioneering as they are desperate to win elections at any cost. It has also been alleged such candidates patronize criminals, import arms and ammunition, train and equip youths to assist them in perfecting their selfish and self-centered political ambitions. This has resulted in high level of insecurity and increased criminality in our society today.
After winning elections, only agenda of this type of rigged politicians remain to get their investments back with compound interest and to save something for next elections. Expenses incurred on elections are usually received back through commissions and kick-backs meant for development projects of the constituency. The phenomenon is best reflected in book “So Much Aid, So Little Development: Stories from Pakistan” authored by Samia Altaf.
Use of development project funds to finance elections (directly or indirectly) aggravates sufferings of people who continue to live their lives under extreme poverty, hunger, illiteracy and lack of health and other essential facilities of life. It is estimated that nearly half population of Pakistan is living below poverty line.
Similarly, the state of insecurity cannot be managed or curtailed effectively without integrating youth in socio-economic and development issues. But election riggers are tumbling down lives of most talented youth of the country by engaging them in criminal activities to achieve their selfish and anti-democratic scheming and criminalities.
However, enough seems to enough now as people of Pakistan have started to raise their voice against electoral fraud. Vibrant voters of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) stood up against alleged electoral fraud and staged sit-in protests in Lahore and Karachi.
After knocking at the doors of all constitutional forums for nearly 14 months, PTI Chairman Imran finally gave a call to stage a sit-in in Islamabad to protest against irregularities committed during 2013 general elections. Sit-in started on 14th August, 2014 and is still unfinished even after 48 days.
It can be safely concluded that electoral fraud plays a pivotal role in underdevelopment of any country.