IT is heartening to know that leaders of all registered political parties who intend to participate in the upcoming elections desire peace and tranquillity in the process of free and fair polls.
The Election Commission of Pakistan on its part seems to struggle for more constitutional powers to scrutinise nominations papers of contestants for the purpose of impartial and transparent elections.
However, a peaceful environment is a pre-requisite for conducting elections in a desired manner. It is a well-known fact that symbols and icons play a role in influencing people’s emotions and behaviours. For example, having a dove as symbol of peace makes sense but a gun does not as it relates to violence.
Similarly, the symbols of different political parties play a significant role in the campaigns and consequently influencing party workers.
In this context I believe that symbols allocated to various parties should be a manifestation of peace and not violence in any form. However, looking at symbols of various parties tell a different story.
Allocation or request for symbols such as sword, missile, arrow, gun, or wild animals such as tiger could in no way relate to peace and patience.
On the contrary, such symbols represent violence or aggressiveness, which is also reflected in election slogans developed by parties. They usually tend to create catchy slogans involving their symbols to charge up crowds during the campaign process.
Moreover, use of swords, arrows and live tigers in campaigns were observed in the past. Therefore, the parties and the ECP should keep this fact in mind while decisions for different party symbols are being made.
The parties should either not ask for such symbols or the ECP should not entertain requests for symbols that have the capacity to perpetrate violence in any form as moods and emotions of the workers of various parties are likely to play a critical role in maintaining a peaceful environment during elections.
Maybe, high emotional energy and aggression were the cause of fights and skirmishes at the polling stations during elections in the past. The ECP has already omitted cat from symbols on the request of a party, why not do away with or change a few more symbols if it helps to create a good environment for elections.
RAJA SHAFAATULLAH Islamabad