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EditorialLG polls marred by mismanagement, violence

LG polls marred by mismanagement, violence

The holding of the first phase of the Local Government (LG) elections in 14 districts of Sindh has given some insights into the political landscape of the country at the grassroots level. During the conduct of these elections, two people lost lives while dozens of political workers were injured as scuffles and armed clashes were reported at polling stations where authorities failed to contain violence. Mainly clashes took place between the supporters of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Besides, elections anomalies were also reported as ballot papers and other election material could not be supplied to staffers to conduct the process on time.

The initial trends had already set the tone for the election results. After getting the unofficial results from 14 districts in Sindh, it has become quite clear that the PPP is all set to elect their mayors and chairmen as the party was leading with 2,228 seats out of total 6,277 seats. Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) is second with 65 seats while Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) is third with 43 seats. The factor of incumbency cannot be ignored to explain the victory of the PPP. However, the party now needs to deliver if they wish to maintain their present status in the next general elections.

Resentment is growing against the incumbent parties. The dismal performance of the PPP is a cause for concern for the party leadership. It has shrunk to just Sindh. The results are shocking for the PTI as well and may reflect the fact that it has lost the trust of the people. Unless the PTI reviews its politics, it cannot improve its position. Another troubling factor is the fact that the Election Commission of Pakistan has again failed to remove anomalies and mismanagement during the conduct of these local bodies’ elections. There were reports of various violations of the electoral procedures, breach of secrecy of voting, canvassing inside polling stations, presence of security officials inside polling stations and printing errors on ballot boxes as well as occurrence of violent incidents in and around polling stations on the election day.

There are certain lessons that we can derive from these LG polls. First, our society is still passing through a process of democratic political evolution. Democratic norms and values are still in their infancy and it will take time for them to strike deep roots. Second, easy access to weapons prompts some people to settle issues through violent means. Such elements do not hesitate to take up arms and kill their opponents. Third, the level of contention is so high in our society that ordinary citizens find no other way except reposing all their expectations in the victory of certain individuals or a particular political party. In the given political framework, when the people have no access to the power corridors, the fierce contention for resources and opportunities often leads to violence. The state of deprivation, abuse of rights and everyday living experience of citizens compel them to resort to violence. It is the responsibility of all political parties to promote democratic values at the grassroots level and create awareness about the advantages of democracy among the general public.

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