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Editorial: Election controversy

The controversy-stricken long-delayed parliamentary and district council election is nearing – almost four years past the expiry of the sitting parliament’s five-year mandate. But the controversy and bewilderment surrounding the pre-election scenario has been widely casting shadow over the whole transparency and credibility of the election. Many problems continue to haunt the registration process of voters and candidates. Pre-election registration campaign has hit snags and a low turnout – due to worsened insecurity and heightened cynicism – is marring its legitimacy.

In fact, to be optimistic about the fate of the election is unreasonable. Recently another controversy surfaced about the existence of many counterfeited identity cards and fake voter registration stickers. This stimulates fraud and vote rigging and seriously impinges upon the elections. There were also substantiated allegations that candidates paid to buy identity cards from people to meet a threshold of one thousands Tazkiras – to be eligible to contest and gain more support in the election. This denotes how some opportunists use the loopholes in the electoral system to buy their way into election simply by manipulating people with money.

It is not pessimism as it is not intended to orchestrate opposition to the crucial democratic election; rather it is factual that the entire elections process is stained and the election body is somewhat to be blamed for it. This electoral body sometimes comes up with very tainted policies that circumstantially and categorically run counter to a rational election doctrine. The commission had earlier proclaimed a possibility for issuance of stickers on copies of identity cards. This measure reverberated exponentially and stirred criticism. It was immediately viewed as a big loophole that could potentially pave the way for rigging and fraud.

The entity’s fiasco doesn’t end there. The election commission alleges four million people have registered to vote – a figure many deem as fouled and fabricated. In the face of current spate of insecurity and a rising public disillusionment, this figure seems to be a red herring. Not even has half of that figure registered to vote as the hoi polloi fear persecution from militants and more are reluctant their participation could change anything at all.

The pre-election campaign faces more deterrence amid aggravating insecurity as many registration centers are closed in different districts of provinces due to security threats, inflicting frequent heavy toll on the legitimacy of the process. These factors make the entire election picture an illusion, intensify skepticism on its transparency, and heighten likelihood of massive-scale fraud. In these controversial times, free and fair election seems nothing but an illusion.

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