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The game of thrones

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It was argued in these columns prior to Election 2018 that the PTI must win. There was no prophesy or prediction involved. The argument simply was that Pakistan has locked horns with itself, as it does every ten years or so. The de-facto regime has checkmated the de-jure regime and should the de-jure regime be returned to power by the people, the conflict between the de facto and the de jure would threaten the continuity of the political process and test our allegiance to our constitution. And we have a history of faltering when it comes to such tests.

The angled playing in the run up to Election 2018 was for all to see (even if not to talk about). Election Day rigging is a thing of the past, we told ourselves. Yet after polls closed on July 25, there came reports in real time from across Pakistan that counting wasn’t taking place in the front of polling agents (who were being thrown out of polling stations) and Form 45s weren’t being issued. It took up to a couple of days for results to be compiled even for urban centres like Karachi. The ECP says the Result Transmission System failed. Nadra says no such thing happened.

The rigging allegations this time around are different from those in 2013. Back then, the story line was dark conspiracy: Returning Officers being controlled from some monitoring centre set up by the judiciary with the caretaker CM applying ‘35 punctures’. And yet such fiction paralysed the country for a year and a half. This time, the allegations are old school: pre-election coercion of candidates to switch sides; manufacture of parties and electoral alliances (BAP, Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan etc); and a high rate of vote rejection and counting fraud etc.

But nothing will come out of these allegations, at least not so long as the PTI behaves. Why? Because that is how Pakistan rolls. Election 2018 being proclaimed as the birth of Naya Pakistan is truly the triumph of the oldest entrenched Pakistan. The conventional wisdom has been that those who are........

© The News International