The general elections of 2008, after long efforts of political activists, lawyers, journalists and masses, was announced by President Musharraf. During this process, many events occurred which would be a big part of Pakistan’s history. Events like the military operations in Waziristan, Wana, Bajaur, Balochistan and now Swat; the ban on media channels; the kidnappings of political workers and journalists by intelligence agencies; the anti-government court decisions; the dismissal of Chief Justice of Pakistan, Ifthikhar Chauhdary, resulting in masses protest; and the Supreme Court’s decision in his favor; the imposition of Emergency; the expulsion of Nawaz Sharif; the doffing of the uniform by General Musharraf; and taking oath, after being elected, as a civilian president will, after all, have lasting effects on the political scenario in Pakistan.
After the announcement of general elections, many major political parties of Pakistan had disputes on whether to boycott the elections or not, saying that the elections would not be free, fair and transparent. Resultantly, different political parties made different alliances and some even announced to boycott the elections, after withdrawing their nomination papers. However, the main concern is that Hazaras and Hazara political parties didn’t show any reaction to all these events.
In Balochistan, particularly in Quetta, no active political process is being seen due to some reasons including the Baloch independent movement and nationalist parties’ boycott of the elections. But still, there are countless candidates, independent or otherwise, who are showing some activities.
Among the Hazaras, there is only one political party which is registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan. Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) is basically a Hazara nationalist party, and this time they are lucky enough to get the electoral symbol of Crescent (moon) after a draw by the Election Commission Office, Islamabad. Many political parties had applied for that symbol.Excluding HDP, there are some national level parties having their candidates among Hazaras. These parties include Pakistan Muslim League (Q), Pakistan People’s Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, and some small religious or regional political parties.
A few weeks ago, there was a rumor among Hazaras that Major® Nadir Ali, former Additional Chief Secretary Balochistan and later on Advisor to Chief Minister Balochistan, would also take part in the elections. He was thought to be a strong candidate due to his reputation and mass popularity. But to Major’s dismay, his nomination papers were rejected by Election Commission, as he had not completed the legal requirements of giving up his government post at least two years before the elections. Major, after being rejected by the Court for reconsideration of Election Commission’s decision, has started announcing his support for some candidates among the people.
Dirty politics, bargaining, “tayeffa” and “chanda” meetings, seeking support from different “tayeffas,” wall chalking, bantering, displaying posters and banners, “lab-e-tarra” campaigners, and bakools-in-the-petao meetings are the political processes among the Hazaras.
It would be interesting to see what becomes of the multitude of candidates contesting from the two Hazara constituencies come January 8, 2008. My fingers are crossed for a divine intervention.