Jamshed Dasti’s election campaign and Jang Group’s concerns – by Ahmed Iqbalabadi

Seeing Kamran Khan’s program of May 11, 2010 and Jang of May 12, 2010, one can see a clear bias in the wordings of headlines as well as reporting. The news items are titled as:

  1. “Jaali degree par mustaafi honay walay Jamshed Dasti kee himayat mayn Wazeer Azam kee purjosh taqreer” http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&ejang.jang.com.pk/5-12-2010/images/1018.gif
  2. “Jaali degree walay umeedwar kee himayat, Wazeer Azam nay election rules ka mazaq banadiya” (reported by Umar Cheema) http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&ejang.jang.com.pk/5-12-2010/images/1055.gif
  3. “Aham shakhseeyat nay Gilani ko Jamshed Dasti kee Intikhabi muhim mayn hissa leynay par majboor kiya” (reported by Ahmed Noorani) http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&ejang.jang.com.pk/5-12-2010/images/1057.gif
  4. “Jamshed Dasti kay mukhalif umeedwar kay jalsay par police ka dhawa” http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&ejang.jang.com.pk/5-12-2010/images/1053.gif
  5. “Jaali degree walay umeedwar kay liye Wazeer Azam kee himayat, Aaien kee dhajjiyan urra dee gayeen” (TV report on Aaj Kamran Khan Kay Saath) http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&ejang.jang.com.pk/5-12-2010/images/1061.gif

The headlines mentioned from 1 to 4 appeared on the front page of Jang and number 5 on the back page of my favorite newspaper.

Let us look at some points before we discuss the reports:

  1. The wizzkid of General Pervez Musharraf namely General Tanvir Naqvi, who in his capacity of being the Chairman National Reconstruction Bureau, had proposed a number of sweeping reforms to cleanse our electoral system prior to the 2002 General Elections. A reason for the same was that despite of clampdowns and unfavorable circumstances, PPP backed candidates had captured a number of local governments in the 2001 Local Bodies Elections.  A key reform was to introduce the requirement of one being a graduate to become eligible for elections. I believe someone had told the General that Shaheed MBB was not a graduate and maybe her papers will be rejected on those grounds. Despite this, PPP came up as the single largest political party in the 2002 General Elections. The key gainers of the sweeping reforms were the MMA whose candidates had the Dars-e-Nizami equivalence to a graduation.
  2. Jang Group has been a key campaigner against the General seeking the repeal of actions taken by the General under LFO and then ratified by the 17th Amendment of the constitution.  The requirement for being a graduate was dropped earlier and now completely out of the constitution after the 18th Amendment.
  3. Jamshed Dasti was taken to the court and was literally taken to task by the CJP and Khalil ur Rehman Ramday. The line of questioning to Jamshed Dasti was meant to embarrass him and the government. Jamshed Dasti (despite being uneducated) turned out to be smart (like most Pakistanis are), saw the writing on the wall and pre-empted the plans of the Supreme Court to dismiss him as a legislator on grounds of having a fake degree. He resigned on his own knowing well that if he was dismissed by the Supreme Court he will for sure not be eligible in future for reelection while right now there is no condition for being a graduate to contest elections. Do note that Jamshed  Dasti resigned and he was not dismissed, hence, legally he is safe.
  4. If legally he wasn’t safe, why didn’t anyone oppose his papers when they were submitted to the Election Commission for by-elections? Justice Jawed Iqbal is the current Acting Chief Election Commissioner. I am sure, he would have towed the line of “my lord”.
  5. Now not having any conditions, Jamshed Dasti applied for a PPP ticket. Now if I were  the PPP Co-Chairman, Asif Zardari, and Leader of the House, Yousuf Raza Gilani, I would have two things in mind:
    1. Firstly get the candidate that can win the election for them
    2. Ensure that PPP maintains its number of seats in the National Assembly
    3. Looking at the media campaign against Shaikh Rasheed, people in southern Punjab are less likely to be affected by the media tirade against Jamshed Dasti. Jamshed Dasti has been representing his people well that is why he has been given a ticket.
    4. For the Prime Minister, it is most important to ensure his majority remains in the National Assembly. He has to support his party candidate also because the constituency falls under Southern Punjab from where the Prime Minister himself belongs.

Now coming to the legal aspects, I personally do not see why Jamshed Dasti cannot contest an election. Currently there is no requirement of being a graduate and most importantly, he resigned from his seat and was not dismissed by the Supreme Court. Had there been a condition then the PML-N supported candidate, Nawabzada Iftikhar and Ghulam Mustafa Khar would have gotten him disqualified at the screening process with the Returning Officer and the Election Commission.

As far as Jang group is concerned, I want to ask them, what exactly do they want right now. Is it to introduce good governance in the country or is it just to embarrass the government? PPP will stand most embarrassed if it loses the election on 15th May. Jang Group will keep harping the same tone of “jaali degree”, “aaieen kee dhajjiyan”, “aham shakhseeyat” etc, hoping to emulate their performance against Shaikh Rasheed, however, the PPP has to win the election to shut them up. The only person I see having gained from all this is Jamshed Dasti who will become even more aggressive against the media and the courts, if he wins on 15th May.



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