The recently concluded elections in Azad Kashmir were predictable in that they continued the tradition of the ruling party in Islamabad forming the government in Muzaffarabad. However, what they also demonstrated was how ugly elections have become under PTI and Imran Khan.
According to a Dawn editorial, “As election campaigns go, this was one of the ugliest in recent times. The tone and tenor of speeches, the intensity of partisan attacks and the level of personal mudslinging was, to say the least, abominable. All party leaders focused on insulting their rivals instead of talking about issues concerning the AJK electorate. These leaders brought their animosity and mutual loathing into the AJK arena and polluted the air with their toxic brand of politics. They had no qualms about relegating the issues of Kashmir into the background and highlighting instead what they considered the most damaging aspects of their rivals’ politics. Charges of treason were bandied about callously and allegations of a ‘sellout’ of the Kashmir cause were flung without any substantiation.”
What was witnessed in the campaign was the reduction of politics to “a street brawl. It was sad to see cabinet ministers resorting to violent and sexist rhetoric and PML-N leaders peddling anti-Semitic language to tarnish their opponents. If this were not bad enough, election day too saw a flare-up of violence and the usual charges of electoral malpractices. The PML-N and PPP have both pointed to what they call rigging in various forms even though the PPP has bagged a respectable number of seats. There will be a few days of accusations and counter-accusations but at the end, the government formation in Muzaffarabad will ensue and a PTI nominee will take oath as the prime minister.”
What we need to be more concerned about is that the general elections are only two years away and if they are conducted like the AJK ones, the country is in for serious trouble.