“Dharnas vs Democracy” By Fatima Tassadiq

(It is a worth reading article by Fatima Tassadiq who is currently completing a Master’s degree in Anthropology at Columbia University. The clarity of her arguments are very impressive. F. Sheikh )

In May 2013, I, along with many other Pakistanis weary of a system steeped in corruption, bribery and dynastic politics supported Imran Khan’s bid to power through the general elections.

I was deeply critical of his stance on the Taliban, the War on Terror and absence of a clear political ideology but nevertheless felt that his financial incorruptibility and integrity would be a welcome change from the clientelist politics of the PPP and PML-N.

I wasn’t naïve enough to think that Imran would win by a clear majority, because his appeal was largely restricted to upwardly mobile urban middle and upper classes, as evidenced by a report by Gallup Pakistan.

It was also highly unlikely that the PPP’s and PML-N’s historic stronghold over Sindh and Punjab respectively, would be destroyed in the course of a single election. This view was confirmed by opinion polls and surveys prior to the elections.

Also read: Open letter to Imran Khan, from a PTI voter

Nevertheless, I hoped that Imran would emerge strong enough to form part of a national coalition.

That didn’t happen.

I was disappointed but not entirely surprised and after making a series of embarrassingly elitist comments regarding the ‘illiterate masses’ I moved on.

That is how democracy works.

In a system of one person one vote, all opinions count equally – even if some of them are loud enough to dominate the public space through dharnas, while others quietly follow old political affiliations. In a democracy we have to be open to the possibility that the politicians we think are ill-suited for leadership may get elected, and we must respect the mandate of the people if democracy is to flourish.

It is the latter aspect of democracy that is, I believe, apparently difficult for many PTI followers to digest, with most translating any critique of Imran Khan’s tactics as support for corrupt veteran politicians.

The situation deteriorated with the PMl-N’s refusal to implement timely electoral reforms, address electoral irregularities, not to mention, the horrifying Model Town massacre that gave an undemocratic opportunist like Tahirul Qadri a place on the negotiation table.

But the Azaadi March and PTI’s single-minded pursuit of Nawaz Sharif’s resignation has lost many people with its convoluted ‘logic’.

The claim that PML-N’s victory was engineered through massive rigging has not been corroborated by independent sources like the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen), the EU Elections Observer Mission and the National Democratic Institute.

Undoubtedly, there were irregularities and causes for concern. But electoral law violations do not automatically translate to rigging at the scale needed to manufacture a landslide victory.

There is no ground for demanding a resignation in the absence of any judicial opinions or evidence from non-partisan experts. The PTI is trying to set a dangerous precedent by insisting that elected governments can be declared illegitimate and toppled on the basis of street power. Read Full article by clicking link below;

http://www.dawn.com/news/1127650/dharnas-vs-democracy