NA120 – Desperate Tactics by Deep State

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures — This is exactly what Deep State practiced in recent Lahore NA120 by-elections to suppress the mandate of people. The Deep State desperately attempted to manipulate the poll to build perception that people were standing by the Supreme Court after their dishonorable verdict against the of Prime Minister.

These tactics should be used as lesson for future elections by pro-democratic parties and shall be more vigilant to counter them during any future polls.

Pre-Poll Rigging

  • More than 40 candidates filed their nomination papers for NA120 by-election — This is the highest number of candidates who stood in a single by-election. The tactic is used to confuse some voters with large number of party symbols in ballot papers.
  • A letter appeared from Punjab Police barring all forms of cameras and coverage inside polling stations for NA120
  • The control of NA120 poll was handed over to army despite any security threats in this constituency.
  • Several journalists received threatening phone calls in attempt to silent their analysis on NA120, which were largely in favor of PMLN. Iftikhar Ahmed is the most senior electoral analyst with vast experience of heading the special transmissions. He reported about threatening phone calls after his analysis on TV channels though his twitter account.
  • New political parties were registered, like Milli Muslim League and Tehreek E Labaik, both with people from banned organizations with suspected links with deep state.

Kidnappings

  • Just a day before elections, several PMLN workers with important responsibilities were picked by unknown men in Vigo pickups, which is a clear hallmark of security agencies.

Polling Day

  • Instead of providing simple security, the Army came in larger number at every polling station and took over the polling responsibilities from the Election Commission officials. This included taking possession of the ballot boxes, checking ID cards and voter slips, restricting the journalists even with ECP permission to enter polling stations and slowing down the whole polling process.
  • Lahore Corp commander from Army was physically present in the constituency to oversea the entire electoral operation, this was first of the kind in any by-election.
  • The large number of polling agents from 40+ candidates in each polling station were entitled to see the NIC of every voter. This process intentionally slowed down the whole polling process and amounted to bullying, while large number of voters kept waiting outside the polling stations.
  • The polling time was not extended despite large number of voters were waiting outside the polling stations. This was also unusual as the polling times is always extended when voters are in queue.

Lesson Learned

  • No matter how hard the establishment tries, the tactics are effective only when the margin of victory is low. Even if 20-30% vote is affected, the party with 100% margin would win easily.
  • All parties should legislate that army officials could not assume the role of ECP and could never  touch the ballot boxes
  • Political parties should arrange sufficient backups for their polling agents and other key party members in case they go missing.
  • ECP should be more authoritative in their duties and not get bullied by anyone including army or members of political parties

 

Army Chief Qamar Bajwa Lectures on Economy

By stepping further into civilian affairs, Army Chief Qamar Bajwa addressed the business community in Karachi and presented a gloomy picture of Pakistan’s economy. Qamar Bajwa while reading a written speech said that the loans of Pakistan were running dangerously high and strong steps were needed to overcome these economic challenges.

Army Chief was also joined by ex-team of Musharraf’s military regime including Mushahid Hussain and Dr. Salman Shah.

Qamar Bajwa highlighted that the state of economy was poor due to exceptionally high amount of foreign debt. This statement is repeated by almost all political opponents of PMLN and army chief is the latest one joining the rank.

The debt is globally calculated in Debt-to-GDP ratio, not the absolute figures, otherwise the countries with highest debts would be considered to be in the worst possible economic condition.

For example, the Government debt of United States is 20 Trillion, or 20,244 Billion US Dollars!

The debt is globally calculated in Debt-to-GDP ratio. For example, if my income is 100 and my loan is 60 (60%), then it is considered manageable. However if my income is 100 and my loan is 500 (500%), then is it hard to manage.

Here are few countries with their Debt-to-GDP ratios as of October 2017:

United States -> 106.10
United Kingdom -> 89.30
Japan -> 250.40
Pakistan -> 66.50

Since the PMLN Government took over, the debt-to-GDP ratio is stable between 63 – 66 and there is no alarming or unusual situation. The following are the figures of Debt-to-GDP ratio for the last 4 years:

Pakistan Debt-to-GDP ratio:

2013 -> 63.90
2014 -> 63.50
2015 -> 63.20
2016 -> 66.50

Pakistan is finally heading to end electricity load-shedding after suffering of more than 10 years and it is expected to uplift growth to improve economy at a great scale in near future.

PMLN Cabinet Hints at Offensive Strategy

The names in new cabinet hints that PMLN decided to switch to offensive mode against the establishment and fight for the civilian supremacy guaranteed in the constitution.

Khawaja Asif being the foreign minister is a clear sign that PMLN’s government wants to bring the Foreign Policy matters back into civilian control. His stance on civilian supremacy is well known and is one of the best performing ministers who delivered in reducing the electricity crises in last 4 years. After sacrificing Tariq Fatmi from Foreign Advisor position in Dawn Leaks saga, inclusion of Khawaja Asif shows that PMLN wants to play on the front foot.

Ahsan Iqbal as Interior Minister is another sign that PMLN wants to bring back FIA and other civilian agencies under full civilian control. Chaudrhy Nisar is a party loyalist, but his close terms with military raised many doubts about effectiveness of civilian control on many issues like Dharna 2014, his mysterious disappearances on many high profile security incidents and picking up of many PMLN Social Media activists by FIA.

Talal Chaudhry is a new entrant in the Federal Cabinet as Minister of State for Interior. His inclusion hints that PMLN will be going aggressively against offenders who post fake stories on social media. Talal Chaudhry is young and can spend more energies in domains of interior Ministry.

Khurram Dastgir is another party loyalist and strong supporter of democracy. His portfolio of Defense Ministry also gives and strong message that PMLN is not ready compromise on civilian supremacy in defense matters.

Mushahidullah Khan’s return in cabinet again is the strong anti-establishment message, he was earlier fired for giving an interview where he claimed that some military offiers were behind the Dharna of PTI and PAT in 2014.

How Nawaz Sharif was Disqualified

Nawaz Sharif

Following the 70 year tradition of Pakistani politics, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could not complete his term as Prime Minister. He was dismissed on most absurd and weakest possible charges in judicial history of Pakistan.

The entire Sharif family went through a investigative witch-hunt of more than 40 years old and he was disqualified for not drawing salary from his son’s company in Dubai, that was setup during his exile for visa purpose.

Nawaz Sharif was finally disqualified for not being Sadiq & Ameen (Truthful & Honest) for not declaring his assets, whose definition was taken from an unknown dictionary!

The case had the following core legal issues that will taint the image of our judicial for decades:

  1. The Supreme Court bench was formed under article 184 to find if any basic right of any citizen was violated. It was not a trial court and could not punish the accused.
  2. Article 10A, which is fundamental right of citizen for fair trial was violated and it was overridden by weaker article 184. The accused was not given the rights as they are given to any citizen.
  3. The petitioner never accused the accused on the salary issue.
  4. The unreceived salary was defined as asset based on an unknown dictionary, however Pakistani income tax laws were ignored where it is clearly mentioned that only salary received has to be declared.
  5. The accused was never called to defend himself on the charges.

As per international media, the judicial decision was clearly remote controlled by the Deep State of Pakistan.