The Truth Of PTI's Victimisation In Electoral Processes

In the latest episode of Khabar Say Aagay, the initial list of accepted nomination papers has been published, clearing the fog on PTI's claims that it was being kept out of elections

The Truth Of PTI's Victimisation In Electoral Processes

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) claimed that its candidates were being targeted and prevented from submitting nomination papers or were rejected en masse. However, data published by the Election Commission of Pakistan has clarified how many of these claims were real and how much was propaganda as the electoral race heats up.

This was discussed in Naya Daur TV's latest episode of Khabar Say Aagay, featuring reporter Fakkhar Durrani and Fouzia Yazdani,, and leaders of two progressive and smaller parties.

Sifting PTI's propaganda

Fakkhar Durrani said that, to some extent, the perception being created by the PTI that they are not being given a level playing field was correct. 

He said that the narrative that such actions have never happened in the past 75 years or that this is the first time this has happened at this level is incorrect.

Durrani further said that the PTI submitted nomination papers for 2,434 candidates, the most by any party during any election.  The PML-N is second with 2,100.

"If you look at the number of incidents reported in the media where their nomination papers were snatched, they are barely half a dozen or a dozen. So, very few people were harassed or stopped from submitting nomination papers. Does this ratio equate to the victimisation narrative pushed by the PTI?"

He went on to contest PTI's claim that the nomination papers of so many PTI candidates had been rejected and that it was an attempt to keep the PTI out of elections. "But if you look at how many out of 2400 have been rejected, they number around 300-350 (around 14%)."

He said that most of the papers which have been rejected were on technicalities and are likely to be overturned after they appeal the decision before the election tribunals.

"Some cases of concealment of assets or involvement in attack on state institutions may see their papers rejected even then. So the narrative that they are being victimised is largely exaggerated."

"I think they are playing the victim card on social media," he said, adding that the PTI has always adopted the strategy of going on the offensive and putting their opponents on the back foot, and they are employing it again.

Durrani believed that this [posting fake videos of being victimised by Jamshed Dasti] was not random. "This is part of a pre-planned and well-thought-out propaganda strategy that will continue until election day and after elections to set the stage for post-elections as well for a narrative that the state has excluded them from the elections per a plan. And this narrative is not just built at the national level but at the international level as well."

"You will probably see cases worse than Jamshed Dasti in the near future," he warned.

Yazdani said that the 13-14% rejection rate was not that high to create a hue and cry about.

She reminded that there were three to four covering candidates for each seat, which is why there was such a high number of candidates.

She said that during the submission and scrutiny process, the ECP said they received many complaints from political parties, but in the end, they numbered a total of 47 while all were addressed.

"Are 47 complaints those that the political parties are claiming on television or in press releases? Or did the number of complaints they relayed to the ECP differ from those they communicated to the public?" 

She said it was unfortunate that the nomination papers of many PTI heavyweights were rejected. 

"I have repeatedly said that forcing out a core political stakeholder does not serve democracy. We will need to find some other way; two wrongs do not make a right," she said.

Some people say what is happening now also happened last time; why did you not speak up then? She asserted that we said it then, and we are saying it now.

In this scenario, some political stakeholders will take an undue advantage at one point in time, she said, stressing the need to break this cycle.

Moreover, she said that they had noted many silly mistakes in filing the nomination papers, leading to rejection, such as not properly attaching the annexures when declaring assets. 

"You got your documents attested from a notary public instead of an oath commissioner as required," she said.

A convicted person cannot contest elections; we know this. But if a person is still under trial or their trial has yet to begin. She said that you cannot put their mistakes on the state or establishment either.

"If you argue that papers have been rejected for involvement in the May 9 incidents, then Sher Afzal Marwat was also a part of the incidents, but his papers were accepted," she argued against the PTI claim.

Of the candidates whose nomination papers were accepted - she said that there are 1,253 women whose nomination papers were accepted. However, she reminded most of these women were included just as covering candidates, and the ECP only requires parties to hand out 5% of tickets to women even though they make up 46% of all voters.

"We used to say it is an RO's election, but in the past, ROs used to be from the judiciary. This time, the RO is from the district administration, but the appellate tribunals, who are overseeing complaints and scrutinising documents, are being run by the judiciary," she said, adding that if the administration personnel are making mistakes, then the judiciary needs to step forward and play its role and sort it out.

This election is being based on propaganda, disinformation, fake news, hate speech and toxicity and is less about political processes, she lamented.

She urged the ECP to take strong notice of Jamshed Dasti's case and should demand answers from the provincial and local administration.

Alternative politicians

The show featured leaders of two alternate parties, the left-wing Haqooq-e-Khalq Party led by Ammar Ali Jaan and the rightist Pakistan Central Muslim League led by Khalid Masood Sindhu.

Jan explained the reason he was contesting was that it is no longer enough to lobby mainstream parties to take action on critical issues.

"When they are in opposition, they talk a nice game and speak on the rights of labourers, the poor and the downtrodden. But when they come into power, they do not even want to pick the call of someone who they think may not be in the good books of the establishment and take a U-turn on their pre-election claims. And behaviour is exhibited is by all the mainstream parties," he said.

He stressed a need for political representation in the parliament for progressive voices.

"There is a vacuum on the real issues of the public not being addressed by those who are elected into power, and to fill this vacuum, we have launched our party," he said, adding that a lot of progressive voices who have worked for the past five years on labour issues, farmer issues, student issues and many lawyers have joined them.

"Every MPA or MNA has set up their housing society, but no new government school or hospital has been set up. In this area, there is no graveyard."

Jan said they have set up two academies and two clinics and have been agitating on water quality. 

"We want elections to be on those issues which really afflict the residents of that area on a daily basis."

Explaining his choice to compete in this area, Jan said he has been working in this locality for 14-15 years. It was the hub of the workers' movement and progressives. 

With Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari all set to contest from this constituency, Jan called these big leaders 'parachuters'.

In 2021, the PPP got some votes here, and the reason for that was they spent millions campaigning here, he said.

However, he believed that the subsidies given to the rich are around $17-$18 billion a year, so this has become a welfare state for the rich, who spend 1% of that subsidy in campaigning to win elections.

Despite that, he said that a small party appears to be a threat to the big players.

"After our papers were rejected, we had to hold a rally, but the police did not allow us to hold the rally, and the SHO came out. But we contested them and held the rally, and a large number of people came."

Khalid Masood Sindhu of the Pakistan Central Muslim League Party also explained that their party was set up in response to the failed promises of the major parties and their failure to uphold the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah for Pakistan.