Reflections on Election Contrasts: Hatemongering wins over arrogant politicians

DND Thought CenterReflections on Election Contrasts: Hatemongering wins over arrogant politicians

By Shazia Anwer Cheema

Azerbaijan held a Snap Presidential Election on February 7, 2024, and I was invited by Azerbaijan’s government to be an International Election Observer.

   

Having prior experience with elections and the electoral process in Pakistan, this experience was unique to me. I was amazed to see the festivity and excitement among the Azerbaijani public, the way they dressed up, accompanied their children, and were so eager to fulfill their duty of electing the next president.

I visited more than ten polling stations, and the staff were efficient and vigilant, entertaining everyone with the same professional look and smile. There was no chaos, nothing to hide, and no reason to panic.

I have seen people casting their votes and then allowing their children to drop the folded vote in the box. This is how a sense of responsibility and national integrity can be transferred to the next generation. The polling agents and security not more than two policemen plus the polling station staff, executed their duties to facilitate the public through the process. There was no slurring of name-calling, abuse, or vendetta in and around the polling stations.

The voting process was completed at 7 pm, and counting started right at seven pm in front of national and international observers who were allowed to stay inside and stand at a suggested distance.

I am explaining my firsthand experience in detail because on February 8, Pakistan held General Elections 2024 and the chaos and unrest documented by international and national media was off the next level. I am not claiming that Pakistan has a long history of fair and free elections; the 2018 elections were the most rigged; nevertheless, this time Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) did its best for a smooth polling process and received only 22 complaints from all over the country. However, an unjustifiable delay in announcing the election results provided opportunities for Election Observers to question the whole process because ECP took more than 72 hours to announce results (even for big cities).

Pakistan was never lucky when it came to holding General Elections. There are thousands of articles and hundreds of academic papers available claiming that the 1970s General Elections caused the disintegration of Pakistan and the “othering” effect that was already present in East Pakistan was used by enemies and this othering became reality in the form of we (Pakistani) and others (Bangladeshi). I had been writing after the May 9, 2023 events that the country should avoid holding General Elections unless the effects of hatemongering of PTI were not addressed and mitigated. Instead of taking punitive actions against leaders who instigated PTI’s followers to attack Pakistan armed forces at 300 different spots within the country, our courts had been showing leniency and allowed almost all of those who were involved in the May 9 incidents to contest the 2024 elections.

I have been writing for a couple of years that Imran Khan is the West’s foremost priority and Western media always promotes him because of many reasons

Everybody saw that PTI’s entire election campaign was designed on “hatemongering against the Pakistan Army” while the PMLN campaign was designed over the developmental works it provided in the past while the Pakistan People’s Party’s campaign was designed to target PMLN. None of the mainstream political parties gave importance to the events of May 9, 2023, and avoided telling the voters that PTI’s leadership had been injecting hatred against state institutions among the masses because the former prime minister Imran Khan was part of a bigger global game plan of pitching the pubic against the Pakistan Army to harm the country.

PMLN in Punjab failed to mobilize its workers and its appearance at the polling stations was very low while international media saw enthusiastic PTI voters present at polling stations. I understand that “seeing is believing” so by mid-day it was all over in international media that “PTI is leading elections in Pakistan” and the situation was effectively used by PTI foreign media managers that “PTI is winning elections in Pakistan”. I have been writing for a couple of years that Imran Khan is the West’s foremost priority and Western media always promotes him because of many reasons. My claim was confirmed when the entire Western media by mid-day on February 8 published several news that “Imran Khan’s party is winning in Pakistan”. However, the results of the polls were otherwise and the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union immediately responded to the official results of the polls and released strong-worded statements in favor of PTI and claimed that elections were rigged. In a half-cooked and unprofessional reactionary move, instead of releasing a detailed report about the election process in Pakistan, the Foreign Office of Pakistan released a stereotypical statement stating:

Pakistan has held general elections, peacefully and successfully, while dealing with serious security threats resulting primarily from foreign-sponsored terrorism. Some statements are not even factual. There was no nationwide internet shutdown. Only mobile services were suspended for the day to avoid terrorist incidents on the polling day. The elections exercise has demonstrated that the concerns of many commentators were misplaced.

This statement nowhere provided any data, or credible information that could mitigate unfounded allegations of rigging in Pakistan. Such a statement actually helped enemies to establish that the “Pakistani government had nothing credible to share while responding to global allegations”. Pakistani Foreign Office in its statement could highlight the point that it is the West who wants Imran Khan so desperately that their media is giving more coverage to Imran Khan than to the Gaza genocide and their governments are so eager to accuse Pakistan of rigging through official statement than to release statements to ask Israel to stop killing women and children.

Any manipulation of election results would definitely help such hatemongers and PTI voters would feel humiliated and hopeless

I had been writing in the past that Imran Khan is the favorite of Western powers because he is an important character of a larger conspiracy and the West wanted him in power in this region because the region would go through major geopolitical changes this decade. Imran Khan served the West by suspending almost all Chinese projects in Pakistan including China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) when he was prime minister. I am of the view that Pakistan cannot afford any confrontation with any country as China requires peace in the region, and the West is looking for a proxy to confront Iran and later China. I believe today’s Pakistan is not willing to become a proxy of Western powers; therefore, anyone who can lead to this treacherous path (for example Imran Khan) must not be given higher office. However, the results of the General Elections 2024 opened opportunities for Imran Khan to rise to power again because people have voted for PTI and this situation can unleash Imran Khan but at the same time discrediting PTI’s voters would be like dehumanizing them and it would further help Imran’s claims that the State of Pakistan does not respect its citizens.

I am never in favor of Western-style pretended democracies, I am extremely against Imran Khan and the facade of current flawed democratic practices but I am also clear about one thing if an election has been orchestrated then the decision of the people must be respected

If Khan wants to create a situation like East Pakistan-West Pakistan hatred, then discrediting election results would favor his agenda. The PTI propagandists sitting abroad have already stated that the military is snatching the right of people to choose their candidates and that elections were a fraud. Any manipulation of election results would definitely help such hatemongers and PTI voters would feel humiliated and hopeless. Humiliation and hopelessness of a large segment of society would further ignite hate against state institutions and this would keep working as snowball effects. I am never in favor of Western-style pretended democracies, I am extremely against Imran Khan and the facade of current flawed democratic practices but I am also clear about one thing if an election has been orchestrated then the decision of the people must be respected. Pakistanis have given votes to PTI and their votes must be respected because dehumanizing the common man will have devastating consequences and will be a turning point in the history of Pakistan.

Shazia Anwer Cheema is an author, and analyst and writes articles for national and international media outlets. She did her M.Phil in Cognitive Semiotics from Aarhus University Denmark and is completing her Ph.D. in Semiotics and Philosophy of Communication at Charles University Prague.

Disclaimer:

The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News

 

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