Please clean the town of post-Election muck

Published on: 08/08/2018 | Comments: No comments 

Dear Sir,
Two weeks past the election day, Chitral town Bazars are littered with worn out posters, banners and flags of political parties which continue sticking and dangling, presenting an ugly picture. Through your esteemed news/views website I wish to request the Deputy Commissioner, the Municipal Committee and the plethora of social service NGOs including CHEPS to please cleanup the mess. They should have themselves realised this responsibility but it is a pity we have to remind them. When any VIP is visiting Chitral, workers emerge from out of nowhere to clean and paint the town in no time, but in everyday life we live with muck thrown on us and nobody takes the responsibility of cleaning it up . .. Ehsanullah, Chitral 08 Aug 2018

Election 2018: Religious alliance clinches convincing victory in Chitral

Published on: 26/07/2018 | Comments: 2 comments 

Chitral: According to final results coming out for the just concluded General elections, the nation wide religious alliance although faring miserably in the rest of the country has claimed the Chitral seats with respectable margin. Molana Abdul Akbar of Jamat Islami was elected Member National Assembly by securing 48616 votes against his nearest rival Abdul Latif of Pakistan Tehrik Insaf getting 38481 votes. Like wise the other MMA candidate Molana Hidayat ur Rahman of JUI? bagged 45629 votes against nearest rival PTI’s Israruddin Saboor’s 40490 votes. .. CN report, 26 Jul 2018

Election candidates exploiting emotional volatility of voters

Published on: 14/07/2018 | Comments: 1 comment 

Chitral : As polling day is drawing closer, the seriously competing candidates are getting desperate to hook voters with every method they can think of. It is a sorry fact that merit and suitability take a back seat in all elections in Pakistan, and the exercise is reduced to a mere battle of sentiments and emotions among supporters and voters in favour of their choice candidates.

In? Chitral the two main factors which are exploited specially during the time of elections are the tribal factor and the religious factor. In the first case people belonging to a certain tribe or clan would blindly support their candidate without caring for his suitability. Similarly,religious minded people would vote for a cleric even without knowing the candidate or even bothering to know him. They would say “we are voting in the name of Allah and not for the candidate”.

Exploitation of the sentiments of voters is not restricted to any group or party. Every party and candidate tries to play with the mental fault lines of voters who are mostly naive and easily impressionable. In order to achieve their goals,negative points against opposing candidates are stressed upon more compared to elaborating own plans and manifestos. The irony is that voters prefer candidates who are harsh and who launch vitriolic attacks against their rivals, instead of candidates who are decent and behave in a couth manner.

Despite regular elections being held at short intervals the conceptual mindset of voting for a party or candidate has not refined itself. It has rather deteriorated with time. It is time we realise that politics is not the answer. The answer lies in ‘anti politics’, i.e in the benevolent system of –Meritocracy.? .. CN report, 14 Jul 2018

Election 2018-The reckoning time

Published on: 08/07/2018 | Comments: 1 comment 

.. by Islamuddin

Chitralis are used to forget politics between two elections and leave their representatives to fend for themselves rather than working for the people. With no protest and no accountability they rule the roost. Even during elections baser instincts are allowed to come into play instead of issues. Incumbents are rarely put on the mat for dishing out development funds to their relatives and friends. As a result contractor mafias crop up and are used to fund campaigns and buy off competing candidates and voters to facilitate election of their patrons. This in turn results in mushrooming of candidates making the electoral arena murky, where pygmies are presented as giants. This time around also a huge line of hopefuls dot the electoral scene making it difficult to differentiate between horses and mules.

At the moment NA 1 presents a four cornered contest between MMA, PTI, PPP and PML(N), while others go by as spoilers, mostly having been sponsored by other serious minded candidates to erode the vote bank of their opponents or gain some pecuniary benefits in return for withdrawal. There are candiates in the field with bruised ego after having been denied party ticket.? PPP nominee, Saleem Khan is being challenged by Shahzada Taimur Khisraw of PPP for votes in his native valley. Taimur claims that he was promised the ticket at the time of his joining the PPP but later on Saleem Khan, as District President, reneged on his promise, thus angering the prince to challenge him. He disputes Saleem?s ability to beat opponents as sufficient ground for award of ticket. After 10 years at the helm, he says, Saleem should have foregone the ticket, as incumbency is a liability for him and not an asset this time over, especially in view of public perception that his incumbency only benefited his relatives and family members. Though not a populist, Taimur has good credentials as a retired civil servant with a lot of experience, connectivity and commitment to fight corruption. By hosting the visit of the spiritual leader of the Ismaili community last year he has earned their goodwill but he is not exploiting it for votes. By presenting himself as victim of a conspiracy he may well pull the rug from under the feet of PPP nominee in the same way as a JUI rebels would do to MMA, along with ghost and sub-standard projects including the faulty construction of Garam Chashma water supply scheme with Rs.20 million outlay. Iftikhar may also lose significant number of votes to Taimur.

Shahzada Iftikhar poses serious threat to other candidates not because PML(N) is popular in Chitral but because of his own track record as MNA and tactful use of the media. However Musharraf factor, should Musharraf use it by way of appeal not to vote for Iftikhar, may put him in a difficult situation. Betraying Musharraf may not be a good thing even if Iftikhar is credited for procuring funds to complete the Lowari project as against diversion of Lowari funds by PPP to Multan constituency of the then PM, resulting in delay of the Lowari project which is considered life and death issue by Chitralis. Z.A.Bhutto and Musharraf owe their popularity in Chitral to this project. Additionally credit for the provision of electricity to most of Chitral from Golengol power station and federal projects including those of NHA are also credited to him. Although Saleem Khan also claims credit for these projects but the public perception tends to favour Iftikhar because these are federal projects and Saleem Khan is being judged for his actions or inactions in the provincial domain. Unfortunately there is not much that he can be proud of by way of improving governance, fund utilization and encouraging merit in jobs. He did bring a lot of money and jobs but lack of distributive justice and poor execution are galore every where. Behind many of his shortcomings the names of his relatives are writ large. Party defectors as well as opponents are exploiting these flaws to the disadvantage of Saleem Khan. Interestingly enough PPP still has ideological workers in Chitral and the party has largely remained immune from the negative legacy of Zardari or his nominees, presenting some silver lining for Saleem Khan to win.

There is general perception that MMA is strongly poised to win the seat as it did in 2008. The conservative religious Chitralis tended to vote for religious parties since 1979, when General Zia promoted extremism and jehadi culture but having remained divided it had little electoral relevance except in 2008 when MMA entered the arena. However this time around the alliance is shaky and there is little meeting of hearts between JI and JUI. There are defectors and nominees of jehadi outfits in the run to challenge MMA for the religious vote bank This, along with reduced role of religion in politics and lackluster performance of its Government during 2008-13, may greatly change the situation to the disadvantage of MMA. On the other hand Saleem Khan may also bank on block sectarian vote but here also he may face disappointment for the same reasons. There is more awareness in Chitral than ever before. Sectarian leaders see more political sense in cross-sectarian appeal and the people are also prepared for it. Therefore any one banking on narrow loyalties instead of performance and character may well be a sore loser at the end of the day.

However ethnicity may still play some role in upper Chitral. PTI had groundswell of support in 2013 as well but its poor party organization and dysfunctional local leadership failed to convert this support into vote power. Their election campaign was half-hearted and hardly covered the 15000 square kilometer expanse of Chitral. They completely relied on the charisma of Imran Khan and at the end of the day it turned out that charisma alone is not enough, be it Imran or Bhutto. The voter has graduated and prefers to vote for performance and character with a little doze of polpulism. This time around the situation has not changed for PTI, both in terms of groundswel of support and dysfunctional party organization. Populist candidates and robust election campaign could have made some difference but the same are missing, thanks to resistance to the arrival of parachuters and the so-called electables. However the party nominee for the provincial seat is a highly qualified candidate but also carries some baggage as an NGO representative with mixed rating. He is competent and dynamic but these qualities are undercut by the public perception of him as non-serious and easy going person. However given the muddled provincial scene with so many candidates in the field he has a fair chance to get through. The only formidable opponent is Ghulam Muhammad of PPP with considerable ethnic and regional vote in upper Chitral. Once a Mohyeddin loyalist and rich contractor (he is said to have financed election campaigns of Mohyeddin) he was brought to PPP by Saleem Khan to strengthen his own candidacy, despite his close political ties to Iftikhar.

Accountability and freedom of choice are the two benefits that democracy offers but these are often circumscribed by vested interests for their own benefit, which in turn gives bad name to democracy. The only solution is more democracy so that candidates are sifted again and again till the system is purified and meritocracy gets an upper hand. Let these elections become litmus test to gauge performance of candidates. It is not important who they are; rather what they do or did for the people. Imran Khan is not a populist but people like him for his work. He runs massive charities, imagine what he can do with public funds at his command. His incorruptibility, pride in Pakistan, respect for institutions and vision for the future demand that he be given a chance before we reach the point where only a miracle can save us and miracles do not take place nowadays. Allah gives second chance only to the few chosen ones and we are fortunate to have been given that chance. Let us not squander it for expediencies. Vote, being a Divine trust, needs to be used for Divine purpose i.e greatest good of the greatest number of people and not for personal greed, nepotism or favouritism. .. Islamuddin, Garam Chashma, Chitral 08 Jul 2018

Private jets and Helicopters being used for Election 2018 campaign

Published on: 03/07/2018 | Comments: No comments 

Pakistan?s major political parties have booked numerous private executive jets and helicopters for the election campaign 2018. Private aircraft Charter Companies have arranged as many as 5 helicopters and 2 executive jets to fulfill the demand of political parties for the current elections season.

Mudasar Siddique, Director Marketing of Pakistan?s largest commercial charter company ?Princely Jet? ?told ProPakistani that it has made special arrangements for General Elections 2018. Major parties including Pakistan People?s Party (PPP), Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League N (PMLN) and Awami National Party (ANP) have booked choppers and jets for their campaigns this season.

?Princely Jet has earmarked 2 helicopters for the purpose ? the 12-seater AW-139 and 20-seater MI-17 ? exclusively for the elections on short term lease. These helicopters will be used by different parties in election campaign.? Mudasar added.

The company already has 2 executive jet aircraft ? Challenger 604 and Citation Bravo ? for the elections as well. Apart from these jets, the company also has two BO-105 and three EC 130 B4 helicopters. Its fleet is based at Karachi and Islamabad airports. For elections, 2 helicopters can be obtained on a short term lease.

Mudasar told that flying helps in not only saving time, but also money. Traveling long distances on land may not be feasible for most politicians given their far-reaching campaigns. He further mentions that a person can cover 5-6 hours worth of traveling time in just one hour if they are flying in plain areas. For hill areas, the same journey on land could take 8 to 10 hours, he mentions. As for costs, flying for an hour would cost $ 5,000-7,000, with the charge depending on the route and other conditions.

?All major parties have booked flying slots with us. As we progress into the campaign, the number of flights are bound to increase. This in turn will bring in more revenue for us,? Mudasar clarified.

During flying, passengers are provided VVIP services including breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are even served snacks and drinks as per demand or time. In these chopper and aircraft, the overall environment and ambiance is rather relaxing.

?The election campaigns are very tiring for the lawmakers. Our aircraft provide ample resting opportunities during flying,? Mudasar told.

Use of private Jets and helicopters was introduced during the 2008 elections. During the 2013 elections, PTI and PML N both used these aircraft for a total of 161 hours.? .. Source

Use of Mosques for election campaign should be banned

Published on: 24/06/2018 | Comments: 1 comment 

Dear Sir,
Through your esteemed paper I want to point out that in the past the sanctity of mosques have been violated by using the pulpit for political purposes. Election campaign is again gaining momentum in Chitral and candidates are heading to mosques to address the prayer goers asking for votes. The Election commission must impose a ban on using mosques for election campaigns whether directly or indirectly. The religious clerics should also be watched closely so they don’t exploit the advantage they have of ready access to the pulpit always. I hope this suggestion of mine is taken seriously for the benefit of democracy and Islam both. .. Akhtar Ali, Chitral 24 Jun 2018

Primitive election system: Pakistan will never change it appears!

Published on: 15/06/2018 | Comments: No comments 

Chitral : While the world gallops ahead in progress, adapting latest scientific facilities and technologies, Pakistan continues going round and round in a circle of no joy. Elections after elections, we see ‘more of the same’ instead of any substantial difference. Primitive methods are used for conducting elections, starting from selection of electables by political parties regardless of their functional qualifications to messy election campaigns to primitive method of polling votes.

It is unfortunate that political parties do not want to change the system or at least bring about reforms in the polling procedures of the existing one? They are happy with the outdated rickety dispensation and only concentrate on how to make their way to the corridors of power by hook or by crook in this faulty polling system. No political party is interested in adopting machine voting through biometric system as it will bring transparency and fairness and political parties are by default averse to transparency and fair play.

The future of a prosperous and progressive Pakistan eventually lies in adopting Meritocracy, however?until that happens at least the election system can be upgraded with the help of modern technology. The biometric enabled National ID cards can be used to cast votes for any candidate across Pakistan from any polling station. In this way there will be no wastage of votes and 90 percent votes will be polled in Pakistan measuring the true choice of the people compared to constituency/polling station limited system which are easily rigged and exclude the opinion of a large number of voters not present at the polling station.

It s unfortunate that no body wants to bring about core changes in the systems in Pakistan and every leader is focussed on getting into power by hook or by crook and take his turn to milk the famished country. .. CN report, 15 Jun 2018

45 candidates for two seats: time to raise the entry fees!

Published on: 11/06/2018 | Comments: 1 comment 

Chitral: 45 candidates have filed nomination papers for the two Assembly seats in Chitral district, 18 for NA1 and 27 for PA1.

The seriously contending candidates are not more than four or five in each constituency, but the large amount of entrants shows that contesting for an Assembly seat is not taken seriously and most of the candidates knowing well that they will end up as an ‘also ran’ still enter the competition. It could be for the sake of feeding their egos or for being mentioned on the TV and in the news papers as candidates or whatever, but certainly not for winning the contest.

That raising the educational standards and other qualificational criteria for the contestants has been opposed as ‘undemocratic’, the only way left to curb this mad rush to include names in the ballot paper is to raise the entrance fee substantially. A minimum of Rs 100000/- should be charged from Provincial Assembly candidates and Rs 300000/- from National Assembly candidates and this fee should be non refundable. If that is done, all the fundos who jump in just to be counted, would refrain from creating nuisance for the election commission and for serious voters who have difficulty sifting the election symbol of their choice from amongst dozens littering the ballot paper. .. CN report, 11 Jun 2018