Issues such as education, food security and farm subsidies have been relegated with the onset of LG polls. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD NOMAN/EXPRESS
Households tend to revolve around kitchens, and the electoral kitchen is currently a-bubble with the political stews being cooked ahead of the first phase of local government polls to be conducted on October 31. Leading the pot-stirring is the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), which is in rigging-alert mode before a single vote has been cast and still retroactively re-running the rigging allegations from its narrow defeat in the NA-122 by-poll. The local government polls in Sindh and Punjab come almost half way through the tenure of the PML-N government of Nawaz Sharif and as with all mid-term elections are probably going to be a fair indicator of how the electorate view and rate the performance of the ruling party. A recent poll by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) indicates a drop in popularity for the PML-N and a rise for the PTI.
Concerns have been expressed by the opposition parties generally as to the safety and security of polling stations and there have been calls for the military to secure ‘sensitive’ sites, much as happened in the NA-122 by-poll, which passed largely peacefully. The PTI has been firing broadsides in all directions, with the Punjab police in its sights. The PTI is making it known that it will not tolerate any untoward behaviour by the Punjab police in respect of its voters or candidates; and has further accused the PML-N of using violence to intimidate PTI supporters and candidates.
It may have been more useful in terms of helping the electorate choose between the various contenders if there was a little more policy development and statements as to what the parties hope to achieve if elected; and a little less of the megaphone-on-the-street-corner approach currently in vogue. Whilst we support the call of the PTI to depoliticise the police (and not just in Punjab but nationwide) there are other issues — education, food security and farm subsidies for instance — that would have benefited from a public airing. The cooks are many, and proverbially too many can spoil the broth. Matters now rest in the hands of the voters of Sindh and Punjab, who we urge to exercise their democratic right.