I haven’t written about the ongoing elections in Pakistan, because the whole thing is a bad joke. First. the making of the electoral lists was “outsourced to Canada”:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/2008/01/pakistan_electoral_rigging_outsourc.html to someone who runs a “dating service”:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/2008/01/dating_service_provider_to_match_vo.html, and they came up with a atrociously bad system.
Secondly, without a functioning judiciary, you can’t have elections – it makes it too easy for the govt. to rig them. It’s a simple matter of self-interest – the govt. is running the elections, and wants to get elected – so it’s blatantly using the entire apparatus of the state to ensure it wins.
The voting lists turned out to be as bad as I thought it would – in fact they turned out to be even worse, despite my low expectations. The “elections website”:http://ecp.gov.pk/ is completely unusable, and missing a lot of names which were there on the old list. For example, it’s missing the names of my family and many of my relatives – most of which are registered voters.
Despite our name not being on the list, I still set out to vote – I spent 3 hours going to all the voting stations near my area, and I wasn’t registered in any of them. I met quite a few people I know, and over 50% of them weren’t on the lists – so we came back vote less.
Overall, it was an interesting experience. After observing the voting process at 5 different polling stations, it’s amazing how even after 20 years of elections in Pakistan we still have such a backwards polling system.
Anyways, more on that later, but heres a few election stories.
* *Mine:* Out of 10 people, only two were on the list, so 8 couldn’t vote.
* *A friends:* Went to vote, his vote had already been cast. After making a big fuss, they offered to let him vote in someone else’s name, at which point he left.
* *My aunt:* She voted thrice. I don’t know why. She went to vote, than she went back twice, and was able to vote again.
* *Another relative:* A party offered to vote for him, if he would only give his ID number to them – as he too wasn’t registered on the electoral list. (he is a registered voter, having voted 4-5 times before, but not on the list for this elections.) This happened at numerous places.
* There was no way to cast a ‘secret’ vote at the 5 voting stations I went to – votes were completely public, with no way to cast it in secret.
These are all anecdotes, and pretty meaningless. More anecdotes are being “posted at the Pakistaniat”:http://pakistaniat.com/2008/02/17/pakistan-elections-news-results/.
I am positive though, that these elections are rigged – it’s not just that the names of so many people I know are missing from the electoral lists, it’s the way in which the lists were prepared, how the entire judiciary still remains house arrest (or threat of if they do something, anything!) – and key figures like “Aitzaz Ahsan”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aitzaz_Ahsan remain in arrest.
Jemima Khan interviewed Musharraf 3 days before the elections, and this paragraph “sums up the situation in Pakistan completely”:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/an-extraordinary-encounter-with-musharraf-783388.html:
bq. Musharraf mentions democracy a great deal. He seems sincere. He is genuinely likeable. But it seems he just can’t help himself. You can take the general out of the army but not the army out of the general. It reminds me of the Aesop fable about the scorpion and the frog. The frog gives the scorpion, who cannot swim, a lift across the river. Halfway across, the scorpion stings him. “Why did you do that?” asks the frog. “Now we’ll both die.” “I’m a scorpion; it’s my nature.”