Electoral rigging, insecurity, lack of employment opportunities for youth, poverty and lack of political awareness are some of the important issues that challenge the existence of a constitutionally democratic country like Pakistan. Almost throughout the country’s history, electoral fraud remains a major contributing factor that has blocked the process of instilling democratic values in this country. The political elite, usually nefarious candidates who cannot win on their own, are prime perpetrators of electoral fraud, designed to impose themselves as representatives and leaders of those who have not actually voted for them. .
The same section of self-imposed representatives inflicts the pain of poverty, insecurity, misgovernance resulting in grave threat to the peace, prosperity and progress of Pakistan. This class of politicians clearly lack any political ideology and are often seen trading basic moral, socio-economic and political values to protect their personal gains.
Democracy is certainly a wonderful concept that rests on certain values that political parties present to the electorate. However, Pakistan is far from being a democratic nation as the practice of democracy here is all about winning elections by any means.
In countries like Pakistan, where voters are wooed by the names of politicians and political parties rather than political ideology, electoral rigging begins with the selection of party candidates. The candidates of party office bearers are offered huge payouts to secure party tickets. Such a process usually plans credible candidates who lack the financial resources to match their political opponents.
Political actors/candidates who are generally unpopular but financially sound also spend huge amount of money during election campaign as they are desperate to win the election at any cost. It is also alleged that such candidates patronize criminals, import arms and ammunition, train youth to help them fulfill their selfish and self-centred political ambitions. This results in high levels of insecurity and increased criminality in our society today.
After winning the election, the only agenda of such politicians getting into the process of electoral rigging remains is to get back their investment with compound interest and save some for the next election. The expenditure on elections is usually recovered through commissions and kick-backs for the development projects of the constituency. This phenomenon is best reflected in the book “So Much Aid, So Little Development: Stories from Pakistan” by Samia Altaf.
The use of development project funds to finance elections (directly or indirectly) adds to the sufferings of those who live their lives under extreme poverty, hunger, illiteracy and lack of health and other essential amenities of life. It is estimated that almost half of the population of Pakistan is living below the poverty line.
Similarly, the situation of insecurity cannot be effectively managed or reduced without integrating youth into socio-economic and development issues. But the electoral rigging is ruining the lives of the most talented youth of the country by engaging them in their selfish and undemocratic conspiracies and criminal activities to gain access to the criminals.