Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Forthcoming elections: abuse of governments funds and discretions

The incumbent governments always abuse their powers to influence the elections to the disadvantage of the candidates who do not have its backing.

These include: the disbursement of the public funds just weeks before the elections; abuse of the discretion in transfers and postings for putting the "right officials" at the "right places"; awards of government contracts to contractors who can promise a certain number of votes; undertaking new development works and accelerating the existing ones; abuse of police to harass the opponents and reward the supporters; abuse of police, revenue workers and officers and other lowly governments officials for "arranging the transport" before and on the election day and to attend the political rallies of the government candidates to show strength; abusing the "rightly placed" officials to get the ballot papers prior to the election day and to use these officials for looking the other way when those ballot papers are being put in the ballot boxes. The list of the abuse of the governmental powers is far too long to be listed.

Keeping up with these traditions the Chief Minister of the Punjab has announced a package of Rs. 3.5 billions for the teachers in his province. I am glad for the teachers and would like to give the benefit of the doubt to the cheif minsiter, but the teachers are the most important officials on the election day and can easily influence the elections. Should this package be allowed to beannounced at this time? Prior to that there were rumours that the son of the same chief minister had decided to run from a certain constituency in Lahore. He forced on the constituency a new underpass although none was urjently needed and having seen the Northern By-pass bridge collapse, God help the users of that underpass once it opens as haste makes waste.

There are a countless examples of the said abuses all over the country. One can hope that the Honourable Chief Justices of Pakistan and the Lahore High Court, the Chief Election Commissioner and other concerned upholders of the law and morals will put a stop on the abuse of government powers immediately. This should, inter alia, include: a ban on transfers and posting immediately, no new announcements of any projects or disbursement of public funds without the prior approval of the Honourable High Courts; equal TV and radio time for the candidates on government channels; and the free availability of transport on the election day for all voters by the election commission.

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