THE manner in which the exercise of screening election candidates is being conducted cannot even be termed as childish. It is far worse. What is on display here is dripping with malice. At the same time, it speaks volumes for the current propensity to ridicule the most serious of matters. In making fun of the aspirants for the May 11 election, the returning officers are taking on a mischief-making role whose origins have time and again been traced in history, quite often and logically, to Gen Ziaul Haq’s experiment in purity. But it is not impossible to locate the precursor of the current wave in the recent past. The exhibition emanates from the trend set by those who thrived on embarrassing, in fact humiliating, the politicians and other more vulnerable front men of the system. In one manifestation of this, the modern equi-valent of the dog taking on the bear became prime-time fare on the channels.

This trend emerged to plug the increasing gaps between popular demand and supply by the government and it has spread. Not even the orders of the honourable courts sufficed; the courts were allowed to act as a source of news in which the accused were not simply tried — they were grilled in the journalistic parlance. What is happening in the name of scrutiny of the poll candidates in the offices of the Election Commission of Pakistan these days is a spill-over that threatens to wash away some basic principles of common sense.

The Mirpurkhas can-didate who was asked about the number of his wives got off lightly. The question was as irrelevant as the reported observation on a woman candidate — that her family’s home life would be in a shambles if she was elected. However, on Thursday respected politician-columnist Ayaz Amir’s case brought out the true repercussions of the current application of the law. Mr Amir’s nomination papers for a seat in Chakwal were rejected over a portion of one of his columns. All this has been happening without any apparent instiga-tion on the part of rival candidates — as if even that could justify these instances. The officials are aided by Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution. The articles have been a source of controversy on their own. In combination with overeager officials who have notions about themselves as reformers, they have generated a trend that is far too dangerous to have any entertainment value.


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Comments (25) Closed




Agha Ata (USA)
Apr 05, 2013 03:11am
I wish the author had been more elaborate on the subject by giving more examples of the questions asked.
Tajmeer
Apr 05, 2013 04:40am
It is good to ask question from candidates about Islam,Ideology of Pakistan, and something about current situation but some questions are not relevant and it creates a bad impression for ECP. As our politicians are not capable to answer such basic questions so how can we expect from them alot to do for Pakistan. These politicians represent Pakistan in the international community but what if they dont know basic things about their own country Pakistan so how they will represent us.
Ahmed
Apr 05, 2013 04:54am
It is for voters to judge what they think of someone's ideology. The ECP officials, by denying voters the right to make this decision, have usurped the rights of the Pakistani voters to free and fair elections. By attacking the foundations of constitutional government, this actions is a violation of the Constitution that is more profound than even the most self-serving interpretation of Articles 62/63. If the SC does not take suo moto action of this, then this will go down in Pakistan history as yet another black day for democracy in Pakistan.
Husain Jan
Apr 05, 2013 05:37am
Due to being implemented in for the first time ever, this exercise can be a bit faulty but it needs to be wholeheartedly supported instead of ridiculing the presiding officers. This editorial and the talk shows on Dawn news try to side with the candidates - the politicians - by suggesting as if the exercise is proving to be cruel and fatal for the nomination paper filers. Please do not complicate this issue any further and let it continue for the good of the nation and its masses...please. We - the masses - have already suffered a lot at the hands of corrupt and let there be some. repeat some relief for us. It is sort of now or never and so please stop campaigning against this exercise ..please.
Jawed Sheikh
Apr 05, 2013 08:06am
Very well said
RANA MUHAMMAD OSMAN CHEETAH
Apr 05, 2013 11:17am
ok election commissions performance should be improved.
SM
Apr 05, 2013 11:57am
Is it Dawn's editorial policy to bash Zia for each and every wrongdoing in the country? Grow up plz!
(Dr.) B.N. Anand
Apr 05, 2013 12:43pm
Sir, the way the election nominations are being scrutinised by the ECP, it seems none of the old brigade of politicians and journalists would be be able to fight these elections. In one way, it may be good to sort out corrupt and criminals from the race of fighting elections, however, its reckless following in the form of rejecting the papers on thoughtless and flimsy grounds will hardly leave any politician to be in the field. Yes, we all see the wind of change blowing in the politics of Pakistan, but let us hope that it does not turn in to a tornado which may bring about irreversible damage to the demcratic polity of Pakistan.
Raza
Apr 05, 2013 01:24pm
Are they becoming Mullas? Why they should you ask the question about Islam. On that base All non-muslims papers should be rejected?
OS
Apr 05, 2013 01:29pm
There is no doubt that the agencies has penetrated the deepest ranks of the ECP and are pulling the strings.
shakeel ahmed khan
Apr 05, 2013 01:31pm
then, why not politicians repealed article 62, 63. all the politicians are hypocrites.they don't have guts to amend the constitution, mutilated by dictator ZIA.
Mohsan Sajjad Sialkot
Apr 05, 2013 01:52pm
we want change in Pakistan but media is old this time
Mohsan Sajjad Sialkot
Apr 05, 2013 02:57pm
you anime of pakistan dawn and jung group
salman
Apr 05, 2013 04:09pm
the judges that are asking such absurd questions are from that lot about which people say that "don't hire the lawyers,hire the judges". infact they are the one who are making a mockery of religion. on the other hand, NAB submitted a report to ecp indicating nawaz sharif as defaulter in hudaibia mills,but his papers were accepted.. because his name is shareef..i guess
Kamal
Apr 05, 2013 05:16pm
Excellent and timely editorial by DAWN. The truth behind these election scrutinies by ECP officials is that the reactionary and mullah forces in Pakistan are using these as a ploy to screen and exclude from running for election all except the fundamentalist, regressive and Islamist candidates. Having failed democratically, these fanatic people via the back door want to turn Pakistan into a medieval, backward theocracy, just like Iran's Islamic tyranny. People of Pakistan should watch out for this evil conspiracy.
irtaza
Apr 05, 2013 06:03pm
The government had 5 years to change the Law, The media had 5 years to cry about the Law and us people had 5 years to protest about this Law. No one bothered so just accept it. Besides, I do not understand what is wrong with what they are doing ? A lot of us ask for Shariah Law but when politicians are asked if they know how to read namaaz etc we complain ? I think we just need reasons to complain and nothing else. They are the politicians of an Islamic country, there responsibility is a majority poor population. They have a lot more to do then a common man and so there is nothing wrong with asking them these questions.
aaaa
Apr 05, 2013 07:51pm
We will protect pakistan from the enemies who encircle us at ALL COSTS PAKISTAN ZINABAD
jawanjanwar
Apr 05, 2013 08:57pm
The issue is . ECP/returning officers are quilty or not? if it is written in the consitution ..why ECP officials can not follow it / well these MNAs including Mr. Ayaz Amir were in the National assembly .. if they did not like the articles ..why not amend it. Now asking the returning officers not to follow the constitional obligations is a farse ..least to say... Nothing to blame the ECP RETURNING OFFICERS.
beg
Apr 06, 2013 02:43am
your argument is so weak that common pakistani know very well who has bungled the nations money and can decide by voting.no country in the world would allow proven corrupt,liars to contest elections rather they themselves never contest even if unproven accusations are made against them let alone proven corruption.scrutiny for the highest office (NA) must be done so thet only uncorrupt candidates contest and people have good choices not the garbage.what you are suggesting is not practiced in any democracy and every country have a scrutiny system before actual elections.you are saying a person has killed somebody and there is ample evidence yet you want this crime determination by people through polls,this is most ridiculous
beg
Apr 06, 2013 02:49am
raza do you know what they do in parliament,they formulate laws according to constitution and the constitution says all laws must be made in accordance with islam,quran and sunnah so the lawmakers should have sound knowledge of islam not the basics only.can you allow a lawyer to practice law when he only know the basic of law not the in depth knowledge of law
sami
Apr 06, 2013 07:49pm
We should condemn Zia as long as we live because he did some reprehensible damage to the country. Same goes with other military dictators of Pakistan.
Sohail
Apr 06, 2013 07:52pm
Kamal Sb Aren't we become used to blame "mulla" in everything we feel uncomfortable?
SHB
Apr 06, 2013 07:53pm
For the last two years media was projecting her as single girl. This is the first time I read she is married to so and so . That guy has liability of ex amount of money . So as a spouse it is relevant to ask for Nikahnama. Same should be done to male candidate if they show any financial liability of spouse. Since they can have more than one wife, they may have to produce more than one Nikahnama. The case in point is Mr Shahbaz sharif. If male candidate has girl friend ,he is off the hook. Best of both worlds.
Shair Khan
Apr 06, 2013 10:43pm
People like Zia have planted the wrong seeds. So please do not blame Dawn. What we are seeing is what was planted by Gen Zia.
Shair Khan
Apr 06, 2013 10:45pm
Instead of focusing on the past track record and misdeeds, here are some of the questions being asked by the Election Commission Officers: -Do you believe in Honeymoon? -How many wives do you have? -Have you ever stood in front of girls college? -Have you ever watched censored movie? -Whom you would save if your wife, your kid, and a great religious leader are drowning in the river? -When is shower due on a married person? -Are you circumcised according to Islamic way? -Have you ever tasted pig meat? -if you are dying with thirst in Sahara, and you found a bottle of alcohol, would you drink it? (Courtesy: BBC)