Hours after caretaker interior minister Muhammad Azam Khan voiced his fears that the rift within the ranks of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) could lead to clashes in Karachi during the general elections slated for July 25, an unpleasant incident took place in the metropolis where an unidentified group of people stopped and pelted stones on the convoy of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari while his cavalcade was passing through Lyari’s neighbourhood during an election campaign rally on Sunday. Although the interior minister had talked in a different context but what we saw in Karachi on Sunday evening was a worrisome and dangerous trend that needs to be arrested at the earliest. The residents of the locality were shown pelting stones in protest. The windshield of a truck that was a part of the convoy was shattered during the violence. At least two PPP activists were injured when the rally was pelted with stones near Juna Masjid, Hangoorabad. Moreover a man identified as a rickshaw driver was also injured during the violence. Luckily the PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari remained unhurt during the incident. PPP leader Nabeel Gabol termed the incident as a handiwork of political opponents. “It has always been a trend in Lyari, that 20-30 ‘planted’ activists are sent by opponents to create chaos”, Gabol said. He alleged that administration officials did not make efforts to stop the agitators from resorting to violence.
Nevertheless the incident speaks volumes about the vulnerability, polarization and growing intolerance within the society. Even the poor reaction from one of the leaders of a mainstream political party has added fuel to the fire. Instead of discouraging such acts he said that any party should have to face such a reaction if it hasn’t worked for people’s welfare. Faisal Vawda central leader of PTI was reported to have said that he does not support the use of violence, but he strongly appreciated citizens voicing their grievances through protests. Regardless of Mr. Vawda’s intentions his remarks go against the spirit of the election code of conduct issued by the election commission of Pakistan wherein it has been clearly stated that leaders of political parties, contesting candidates and their supporters must strictly avoid incitement to violence or resort to violence during pre-poll campaign or during polling hours. Secondly, the PPP slain leader Benazir Bhutto had rightly said that democracy is the best revenge. If people or supporters of any political party or representatives of their constituency whom they have voted for feel that he/she has betrayed them it is better they use the power of vote to teach them a lesson instead of resorting to violence instead of creating a law order situation, which is strongly prohibited. Beautify of democracy is that it offers a unique opportunity whereby people have right to elect representatives of their own choice and the freedom to decide that who on their behalf shall govern the country. Vote is the best possible way to bring a change in the country through peaceful means. Violence has unfortunately been part and parcel of politics in our country since a long time, which as a matter of fact continues to cast a dark shadow on credibility of free, fair and transparent elections. It is high time that all political forces must show sagacity and political acumen to make this democratic exercise a success by refraining from any such activities having potential to vitiate peaceful atmosphere that is pre-requisite for holding free, fair and transparent elections in the country.