By-Elections Feb 21, 2024

Like Popeye the Sailor, with whom the standard operating procedure is to pop in an extra can of spinach when confronting an especially formidable opponent, it appears that the High Command doubled its intake of Fauji Cereals to prepare for By-Elections on 21 April.

Up to this point, it was believed that as an exercise in dishonest innovation, the High Command’s performance in the Feb 8, 2024 election could not be bettered. But sheer dedication to fraudulent intent and shameless practice led to the breaking of these records on Feb 21.

It is to be hoped that as in the case of every war when medals are struck and pinned on the chests of each soldier who served in it, and similarly, for every operation of note, battle honours are approved to be added onto the battle standard of each participating unit, the dishonour garnered in this latest escapade of national fraud will be similarly honoured and commemorated by the High Command. Amin.

On Feb 8, fraud was committed in the dead of night when cell phone services and the internet were first turned off, and then the electoral results were overturned. This time, dishonest intent was announced well before the election day, because of the hubris and incompetence of the ISI.

At noon on April 19, four ISI officials walked bravely into the office of the Returning Officer Bajaur, introduced themselves by their false names, and demanded that he change the polling staff earmarked for the Elections due on April 21, and also to provide them with data of the new staff to be posted as replacements. Instead of surrendering as a good, ISI-respecting, civil servant was expected to do, this RO had the ISI squad turned turtle and subjected to a body search. This led to the recovery of the ID card of one of the four, and it was revealed that the one who had introduced himself as Mr. Sher Zaman was actually Mohammad Amjad [CNIC No 36302-4421452-3]. With their credentials having been thus exposed, or established, depending on how you choose to see this, they were let off after being informed that had it not been for the residual respect that the army still enjoyed on account of past credits, they would have first been roundly thrashed, and then handed over to the police.

After this, the Returning Officer went and personally reported this matter to the District Returning Officer. He then went for his Friday prayers, and when he was home at lunch he got a call from his office at about 2 pm, to inform him that the ISI goons had returned, administered a thrashing to Mr Hazratullah, and then departed. When he returned to his office, he put this incident on record in the form of a letter to the DRO. This letter revealed to the public the general scheme of things the High Command had prepared for the by-elections of Apr 21.

Though this action by the ISI was not half as adventurous as the one enacted by the army in Bahawalnagar a few days earlier, it nevertheless gave a sufficient indication of how far our army had degenerated towards matching the operating standards of Punjab Police. It was also a fair augury for the quality of elections that would be held a couple of days hence.

Come election day, it was immediately clear that since the earlier elections, considerable progress had been made by the High Command to further discredit themselves, and also the entire system of “election management” behind which they were the moving spirit.

There was no end of fraud, but this was to be expected. However, what put this exercise apart were three novelties they brought to the system. First, there was the case of stuffing ballot boxes before the opening of polling booths; the second novelty was that in the case of a number of polling stations, polling was considered already completed without letting in a single voter; and then there was the case of the polling staff being strong-armed into signing and stamping of Forms 47 [ which attest to the count of votes] BEFORE the votes were even cast!

In the last election, it was this Form 47 which had let the cat out of the bag and given a bad name to the army. So, this time they were determined not to let this happen again, but succeeded only in covering themselves with considerably more dirt.

What put this process in a category all by itself was the fact that for the first time ever, plain-clothes men from the “agencies” were directly employed to commit electoral fraud, which was considered to be an area of expertise of police and other civilian outfits.

Our army may have been involved in much that should be regretted, but it had never before been used so blatantly in the furtherance of the cause of “democracy.” N-League, who could not have got more than five percent of the vote, all but swept these elections, and must be congratulated for making such deep inroads into the affections of the High Command. But none deserved plaudits for the monumental success of this operation more richly than Gen Asim Munir and his ladies-in-waiting in the form of Judge Qazi Isa [the permanent gate keeper for most of the army’s crimes], Sikander Sultan Raja, their janitor, and Mohsin Naqvi, their chief refuse collector.

As in the case of most other achievements by Pakistan, the High Command’s effort was essential to the success of these elections. And this leads one to wonder whether, when they sit around the table for their monthly conclaves, and discuss the plight of Kashmiris, or of the people of Gaza with pretended solemnity, or assert that the army was totally committed to helping the government to stamp out smuggling and theft of various definitions, and to help lift up Pakistan’s economy, and defend the constitution etc, does even one of them ever blush? Or does this masquerade come naturally to them?

And if so, it would be worth finding out the kind of hypocritical diet their parents fed them on, and if they were also feeding their kids on the same so that they too could be raised to become model citizens like their fathers?

And the last question is, when did GHQ change its intake criteria to recruit such invertebrates as these by the truckload?

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