The Political Science stream at the Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences (MGSHSS) organised a workshop on Pakistan Elections 2018 on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 at LUMS. The workshop invited diverse perspectives and idiosyncratic views exploring different aspects with enthusiasm about the transparency of the Pakistan Elections 2018. The lineup of the team of leading specialists with considerable expertise and insights on the elections drew an encouraging response from the student body of LUMS as well as from the faculty. There was a keen interest in the various presentations and high-level of engagement by the audience leading the workshop to run over time.
Speakers focused on different aspects of the elections, examining critical issues in a scholarly manner. The workshop began with an overview of the electoral process in Pakistan by Mohammad Waseem, Visiting Faculty, MGSHSS who looked at the intuitional arrangements that have been and were used to lead to a desired result. By examining substantial precedents in the management of electoral results, it was possible to conclude that the recent polls were a process of selection and not elections. Under this overview, other speakers discussed more specific dimensions of the hustings.
Sameen Mohsin, Assistant Professor, MGSHSS examined the administration of the elections, concluding that in comparison with previous hustings the procedures and processes were better managed even though there were some important caveats in the process, and whatever malpractice that took place was at the pre-polling stage. However, it was pointed out that the having a caretaker government meant that the entire bureaucracy was paralysed leading to ineffective governance in this period. The rest of the speakers focused on the questions of political and social change and the election of a new government that heralded these claims.
Hassan Javid, Assistant Professor, MGSHSS picked up the question of electables. When the role of the electables in supporting nearly every political and non-political government was explored, it became clear that they were the bastion of the status quo and are the impediment to change. Only with the emergence of policy-driven politics with cadre-based parties can real social and political change be made possible.
This message was reinforced by Asma Ul Husna Faiz, Assistant Professor, MGSHSS who argued that the demand for the province of South Punjab is being spearheaded by electables who broke away from the ruling party and who are not promoters of Siraiki nationalism. The possibility of provincial boundary reform is slim because of the constitutional mathematics required to introduce boundary change in the provincial and national assembly.
Umair Javed, Assistant Professor, MGSHSS emphasised that sociological change is taking place at the mezzo and micro levels and that this will have an impact on the institutional framework which seems unchanging.
Given the intense interest and robust discussion that took place, the Political Science stream will be holding another conference dedicated to this theme next semester and will invite speakers from the wider LUMS community and also from outside of the University.