Why elections in Pakistan are critical to India?

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | August 11, 2023 IST

Kashmir

Arun  Joshi

Pakistan’s  National Assembly has been dissolved, and the caretaker government, as obligated by the country’s constitution, should hold elections within 90 days. This time, however , it is not going to happen as the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that stepped down on Wednesday, notified that the elections will follow after the fresh delimitation of the constituencies as per the recently held census.


In the modern-day world, interconnected and where the political influences travel faster than ever before in the history, elections in any part of the world have their own resonance and geopolitical consequences. The neighbours cannot expect to escape direct and indirect influences emanating from the country in question. In that context, India, the immediate neighbour,  which has suffered consequences of inability of  deliberate inaction of Pakistan to stop cross-border terrorism, should  be concerned which way the electoral wind will blow across the border.

 

This time, elections in Pakistan would be held in unique circumstances even by the unique standards of its off-on democracy since the nation appeared on the map after Partition in 1947. Former Prime  Minister Imran Khan is in jail. He was convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment in a corruption case. This, Pakistani media  has generally interpreted with some substantive arguments was to take Khan out of the electoral politics. Election Commission of Pakistan, which has shown itself to be stooge of the establishment, announced disqualification of  Khan for five years.This happens when the courts and the institutions work at the behest of the establishment.

Shehbaz Sharif government that had come to power  after ousting Khan  from the premiership in a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly  in April last year , could also not live up to its promise of  ridding the nation of all its political and  economic woes .Pakistan is  surviving because of the IMF loan , and borrowings from other countries, China , Saudi Arabia and UAE . It is a bad shape .The climate change triggered disasters  have been compounded by the man-made disasters ,as the government looked other way round . They were more focused how to cut the popularity of Imran Khan , and  seeking ways to put him in jail and easing him out of political arena  than on the real issues confronting the nation , floods, inflation , and even rising wave of terrorism unleashed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan  and Islamic State – Khorasan . Its soldiers were dying by dozens , and the political rallies were targeted to show  the weaknesses of the system. This happens when the governments divert their energies and  resources in containing  an individual  whose popularity  had become their nightmare . This kind of politics has disastrous consequences . Pakistan has seen it in the past , and it  has experienced it yet again. The loser is nation . Physically , Pakistan  may have been able to  protect its  geographical entity to which it was reduced to post 1971 war when it lost East Pakistan forever, but there is psychological  disintegration  Its Balkanization is complete in the  minds of the people .

 

There also is a global perception, based on Pakistan’s history, that the elected governments matter for nothing  as the real power lies with the army. Pakistan army guides country’s domestic and foreign policy , whether the Generals rule  directly or from behind- the scenes . They call shots , so why worry about elections and their outcome . That is not how the  geopolitics of the day works .

 

Whatever be the shape and colour of the Government that comes into being as a result of elections , it gives an idea as to which way the people are thinking . It may be  delusion of the people that they have elected the parties and candidates whom they voted for , as the ultimate power lies with the army which is not accountable to people .The people’s participation in elections  reflects their mood and choices  and that ‘what should matter to the nation itself and others beyond its borders.

In whatever diluted form the democracy manifests itself in Pakistan ,it’s welcome , as the saying goes , that even the worst form of democracy  is better than autocracy . The current trend in the world is worrying where  democracy is backsliding  even  in the West, which tends to define  democracy for the rest of the world. And if the elections are delayed or manipulated , which is now a common practice , then  it was quite ominous for the people . That elections in Pakistan    should be held in a reasonably fair manner is crucial to the world , and particularly to the neighborhood .

India , is  duty-bound , both as  neighboyr of Pakistan , and also a responsible democratic nation , to watch the political developments across the border .  This is high stake election for Pakistan , but it matters no less for  India . Pakistan has been  a problem for India . First, of course it has been exporting t terrorism into this country , bleeding Jammu and Kashmir , and causing  disturbances of unbridled proportions . This, in fair analysis , as former Prime Minister P V Narsimha Rao, had pointed out , had forced India to deploy troops in Kashmir hinterland . Prior to  1989 , the troops were deployed on borders only . The terrorism , and its magnitude when it challenged the  Indian state and sovereignty , forced Delhi to send and deploy more troops in Kashmir. If there is militarization and the army have been given extraordinary powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, it’s because of Pakistan’s attempts to bleed Kashmir, the integral part of India .

Secondly, it is true that India has been forcefully presenting its case  on Kashmir- J&K is an integral part of India, and  it will remain so, but Pakistan  continues to rake up the issue to score political points . India  believes and rightly so  that the world has stopped listening to Pakistan , and it was evident when the world responded with silence  when Article 370 was abrogated in August 2019 . Yet , it should not be  forgotten that, despite hugely successful G20 meet in Srinagar , three main members  of the grouping – China, Turkey and Saudi  Arabia stayed away . Two of the special invitees , Egypt and Oman, too skipped the meet . This was a diplomatic embarrassment , and that too, because Pakistan had launched a campaign against the G20 meet in what  it called “ disputed territory.”

Former Indian Prime Minister  Atal Behari Vajpayee , a poet and statesman , had stated that , “ we can change our friends  but not the neighbours.” That principle holds  true  for all times . This also should  be a strong motivation and reason for India to understand the new political alignments and environment in Pakistan.

(Arun Joshi is author of “Eyewitness Kashmir; Teetering on Nuclear War and senior journalist based in Jammu and Kashmir, writes on South Asian affairs)

Disclaimer: This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with www.prameyanews.com.

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