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EditorialDramatic results of NA-240 by-polls

Dramatic results of NA-240 by-polls

The NA-240 Korangi by-elections concluded with dramatic results in Karachi. A narrow victory of MQM-P by a margin of only 65 votes, violence marred by-election in which one man was shot dead while 10 others were injured, mismanagement by the Election Commission and the emergence of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) as a new political force were some of the key findings of the bye-polls. The MQM-P received 10,683 votes while Tehreek-e-Labbaik came in second with 10,618 votes, Muhajir Qaumi Movement third, Pakistan Peoples’ Party fourth and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) fifth. The election scenario in the country is still grappling with the issues of violence and the proper implementation of the code of conduct, especially in Karachi where clashes among the activists of main political parties remain the main feature during any political activity. Previously turf wars were used to take place between criminals and law enforcement agencies but now polling stations have become a battleground making the credibility of elections doubtful. A low turnout is ultimately the result of this situation where citizens prefer to stay away instead of using their right to franchise. The leadership of the political parties should have acted democratically and their workers should not have been allowed to resort to violence. Rivalries do exist among political parties but they should not descend into violence. This also speaks volumes about the poor performance of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). A by-election is some sort of practice session for the election authorities but the mismanagement reported at various polling stations, where polling staff were not provided with adequate facilities as well as guidance, puts a question mark on the preparedness of the ECP. Another interesting development found in the wake of by-polls is the transition of TLP from a proscribed organization to a political party.

The emergence of the TLP at the national level and canvassing during elections are examples of the wrong narrative that is taking roots in society as the organization is involved in fanning extremism. Pakistan is currently going through a critical phase and is in need of leaders and politicians who are dedicated to the cause of peace and tolerance not violence in order to improve the image of the country before the world. Extremism and intolerance have already played havoc with the social fabric of society. Certain toxic organisations of religious rights hold a great deal of power in Pakistan because they use Islamic slogans to perpetuate their violence. Through misconstruing Islamic principles and justifying their heinous crimes against humanity on distortions of religious injunctions, they create support for their activities mostly among the poor and illiterate segments of Pakistani society. Such organisations even fill the vacuum created by the poor performance of mainstream political parties, who forget the masses after coming into power. Since the 2018 general elections, Karachiites are looking for a change because they have become tired of the troubles they face in their daily life. They are looking for a saviour because the PPP and MQM have failed to deliver. In this tense situation, a party like TLP is gaining ground and can become another political force in Karachi and elsewhere in the country.

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