A new book to be released today (Friday) enlists massive rigging in the 2008 general elections, which was done with the motivation to retain power by Pervez Musharraf and his king s party.
The vigorous pursuit of power by Musharraf and his cronies largely accounted for unlawful practices, the 230-page book authored by Iffat Humayun Khan and published by the Oxford University Press said.
The writer has done Masters and M Phil from National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University. She is currently working as research associate in the International Islamic University, Islamabad, and is conducting research on elections from a global perspective. Khan s father, Humayun Khan, who is former secretary Election Commission, rendered assistance to his daughter to write the book, a copy of which was provided to this correspondent.
Right from the announcement of the date of elections till the conclusion, the regime was making studied moves to manipulate the elections. The aim was to ensure not only Musharraf s survival but also that of his carefully crafted system. The regime attached no importance to elections as necessary adjunct of democracy except for its regime s legitimising aspect, the book said.
The system-rigging , Khan noted, took place because the government was non-competitive since the president had all the powers and influenced the whole process throughout the elections. He took every step necessary for winning by tempering with the Constitution, imposing emergency rule, curbing the media and the judiciary, and influencing the Election Commission, using arbitrary means to disqualify his opponents, and allowing the preparation of inaccurate electoral lists. The manipulators were the military, bureaucrats and the politicians besides foreign forces, which were also involved to some extent, she wrote.
The book said as far as the pre-poll phase was concerned, the malpractices were at their highest level as Musharraf and his allies did their utmost to attempt maximum rigging. He offered some leeway to the politicians and bureaucracy to manipulate the elections in their constituencies, so the type of government was non-competitive and authoritarian. The key manipulators were the bureaucracy and politicians. The intelligence agencies were not involved in the rigging.
On the polling day, selective and targeted rigging took place, the book said adding most of the candidates of the PML-Q and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) indulged in it with the help of bureaucracy, nazims, police, and other government officials, who assisted them in rigging the polls. As a result not a single party could win the people s verdict, thus leading to a hung parliament.
The book opined that the post-poll phase was not free from machinations. Musharraf’s game plan was not over yet. He tried to influence the new parliament through the combined weight of the army, the bureaucracy, and his foreign friends . Delay in the formation of government was a significant pointer to the time consumed in behind-the-scene manoeuvrings by Musharraf to ensure a friendly dispensation. However, the new parliament was conscious of its role and no longer as amenable to the soldier-president s political whims as before for the boulder of democracy had begun to move, in which the opposition and the media had played their part well.
Khan wrote that the serious assault on Pakistan s constitutional order and fundamental flaws in the pre-election environment prevented the polls from meeting the international standards, forging the need for remedial action.
Governments established through tainted or rigged elections tend to be authoritarian and rely upon the coercive apparatus of the State. They end up causing and cementing terrible polarization, and at times get embroiled in unnecessary local or international adventurism to prolong their rule.
To make matters worse, the increasingly unpopular president embedded the last jewel in his crown by deposing the assertive chief justice of Pakistan. This seemed to be part of the pre-poll rigging plan, the book said.
It also gives the history of elections held in Pakistan and takes out manipulations in them. The propensity for manipulation in all elections throughout Pakistan s history whether conducted by the military or civilians has been strong; hence political actors become manipulators of elections. There is a need for sincerity, selflessness, equity and justice in Pakistan particularly in those who seek political office.
Prof Nile Green of South Asian History, University of California, Los Angeles, wrote the foreword of the book and noted that the work presents both a descriptive and prescriptive account of the abuses committed by members of multiple sections of Pakistani society. And yet it is not a book without hope: in her view despite being the most violent in the national history, the 18 Feb 2008 elections still allowed the people of Pakistan to voice their will. As much as it is a study of abuse and corruption, Iffat s work is a story of the determination and courage of ordinary Pakistanis in their struggle for a political role in the destiny of their homeland.The news.