Electoral fraud in Waziristan! The real fight has only just begun!

The repolling at four polling stations in South Waziristan was blatantly rigged. Ali Wazir the Marxist candidate for Parliament had his victory stolen. But while the Parliament is the final goal for corrupt career politicians, for the Marxists the campaign was just a step in the struggle against the rotten Capitalist system.

On Tuesday 21st May the re-election was held in Waziristan. The Dawn  published the following report of the election results:

“PML-N candidate Ghalib Khan won the election for NA-41 tribal area-VI (South Waziristan), where re-polling was held at four polling stations. He got 7,950 votes while Ali Khan, an independent candidate, secured 7,648 and remained the runner-up.

“According to unofficial results, re-polling was held at four polling stations, including Wacha Dana, Dabkot, Khankot and Marna Ghundi. Tight security arrangements were made on the occasion. The re-polling was conducted smoothly and no untoward incident was reported from any polling station in the volatile tribal agency.

“The Election Commission of Pakistan had decided a few days ago to hold re-polling for NA-41 after receiving reports from the political agent/district returning officer of South Waziristan.”

However, first hand reports from our comrades in Waziristan clearly indicate that this was the result of fraud on a massive scale. From the very moment that the first election result was announced everything possible was done to deny victory to the Marxist candidate Ali Wazir, who has widespread support in this Taliban-infested area.

na-41-rallyAli Wazir's mass rally with more than 30,000 participants - Click on picture to enlargeAs the readers of Marxist.com will already know, Ali held a big public meeting on 8th May, with the participation of around 30,000 people. This showed the real popularity he enjoys in the constituency. Actually, it understates the strength of his support, since, as a consequence of the extreme social problems, women could not attend this public meeting, although they cast their votes in big numbers on polling day.

The photographs of this meeting are proof of his support, and yet the official results claimed that he had received less than 8,000 votes. This immediately exposes the blatant nature of this fraud. Although some voters may have been deterred by the threats of violence (made explicitly by the Muslim League), the vast difference between the numbers of enthusiastic people who attended the rally on 8th May and the final number of votes declared speaks for itself.

Yesterday the early results from  the four polling stations where re-polling was held showed that Ali was winning, and this was even reflected on the screens of Pakistan television up until about nine o’clock. Then the situation underwent a sudden and mysterious change. As a result of the most blatant rigging the results of other polling stations where polling was held on 11th May were changed and a lead was given to the Muslim League (PML-N) candidate.

Even so, the result remained in doubt right up to the eleventh hour. The Returning Officer who was put in charge of the elections by the Election Commission of Pakistan was not sure till late at night what number of votes could be squared with the announcement of a PML-N victory. This fact, in addition to the wafer-thin size of the alleged “majority”, is further evidence that Ali had won by a convincing majority, so that the fraudsters had to tread carefully.

When the result was finally announced, Ali Wazir was said to have “lost” by just 302 votes to PML(Nawaz Sharif) candidate Ghalib Khan. The “winner” was said to have received 7,950 votes while Ali as an independent candidate, secured 7,648 and was declared to be the runner-up. It has yet to be explained how it comes about that a candidate who was declared the winner with 5,000 votes could then go on to lose the election with almost 8,000 votes. Such highly creative electoral arithmetic is a graphic expression of the farcical nature of the Pakistani democracy that is being so lavishly praised by the bourgeois press internationally.

This fraudulent election was prepared by a systematic campaign of intimidation with both the threat of violence and actual violence. On 11th May numerous voters of Ali Wazir were severely beaten up by the Taliban as a punishment. In Waziristan, a hotbed of Taliban activity, the Marxist candidate was faced at every step with the threat not just of a beating but of assassination. Yet comrade Ali Wazir showed not a morsel of fear, courageously defending his revolutionary ideas at every moment.

There is not the slightest doubt that comrade Ali won the election and was prevented from taking his seat by trickery and the most shameless ballot rigging. Thousands of votes were clearly discarded or handed over to the PLM-N candidate. The fact that the “official” result was so narrow (less than 300 votes’ difference) amounts to a virtual confession that the PML-N “victory” was a sham.

This is the second time that the authorities have rigged the elections in Waziristan in order to prevent Ali Wazir from winning. They did exactly the same thing in the last elections in 2008. But this is by no means the end of the story. Ali’s election campaign was a tremendous success and prepares the ground for what must come. One chapter has ended and another, infinitely more important, chapter has just begun.

The fight will continue!

All the talk about the alleged “victory of Pakistani democracy” is cheap propaganda. This so-called democracy is as blatant a fraud as was yesterday’s rigged election in South Waziristan. The bandits and thieves are “elected” to the National Assembly, which is the biggest den of thieves in Pakistan, while the honest representatives of the working people are systematically denied what is theirs by right.

Nawaz Sharif, the new prime minister and head of the Muslim League, is Pakistan’s richest man. Foreign leaders have fallen over themselves to shower him with congratulations for his wonderful “democratic” election. Pakistan’s drug barons, mullahs, landowners, thieves, crooks and political prostitutes are already queuing up at the door of his palatial residence in Lahore jostling for jobs.

Mr Sharif lives in palaces with private cricket fields, aviaries with assorted peacocks, and the deer scampering around his parks. He has water and electricity every day of the year, and even, in the words of The Economist “rows of Victorian-style street lamps, scissor-trimmed lawns and flower beds that would put a Sussex seaside town to shame.”

Inside his enormous house, we are informed, “is all towering chandeliers, gold-trimmed velvet curtains, wall-sized mirrors the better to reflect his model of Mecca, assorted swords on the walls, cut-glass vases and a box of chocolates the size, literally, of a coffin (presumably a post-election gift). The furniture would not have been out of place in pre-revolutionary France.”

But for millions of poor people eking out a miserable existence in the stinking slums and narrow alleys of Lahore, or sweltering hell of villages without electricity throughout Pakistan, life is very different. They know that nothing can be expected from the new government but even more oppression, suffering, robbery and exploitation. Sharif invites western journalists to a table “groaning with kebabs, assorted curries, piles of biryani and steaming bread.” For millions of poor people there is nothing on the table.

Our brave comrade Ali Wazir fought his election campaign on the old revolutionary slogan of the workers and peasants of Pakistan: Roti, Kupra aur Maqan! Bread, Clothes and Shelter! Those most elementary conditions for human existence are still being denied to the majority of the people of this great country. Millions of children go to bed hungry every night while the wealthy parasites grow fat by sucking the blood of the people.

What use is this so-called democracy if it is only another name for the dictatorship of the rich over the poor? What is the point of giving people the right to vote every few years if the only choice before them if one gang of thieves or another gang of thieves? The workers and peasants will draw their own conclusions. The new gang of plunderers will soon stand exposed before the people who will demand what are their most basic rights: Bread, Clothes and Shelter. And since they will not get these things from the National Assembly, they will seek to obtain them elsewhere.

The struggle for workers’ rights does not begin and end with elections. The real fight will be fought out, not in the corridors of the National Assembly but on the streets, in the factories, in the villages and fields, in the schools and universities. Those are the places where the Pakistani Marxists will come into their own.

They may use all their tricks to cheat comrade Ali Wazir in an election, but they can never prevent him and many others like him, from putting himself at the head of the masses in struggle. That struggle is already being prepared. It is coming. It is inevitable. And the final victory will depend above all on the quality of the leadership.

The workers and peasants know very well who they can trust. They know who their real leaders are: not the slick, “clever” politicians in Islamabad, who lie, cheat and deceive, but the honest revolutionaries who put themselves on the standpoint of the working class. They, and only they, can lead the masses to victory.

London, 22 May