Migration of political birds in Pakistan

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By Senator Rehman Malik
In Pakistan’s present political scenario, changing of loyalties is not a new tradition. Notwithstanding, migration is a worldwide phenomenon, which, in literal terms, is defined as the movement of a person from one country, place or locality to another. It happens both through legal and illegal ways. Migration normally occurs due to economic stress, which forces people to migrate.
I intend to talk about a short-term migration process here, which is performed by the members of one political party to another. This kind of migration is illegal if we put it to the test of ethics but this act is not culpable through any laws. It is like the migration of birds, which are not supposed to abide by any sort of migration laws.
It would not be wrong to say that this season of migration normally begins about six months before the elections. These migrating birds look up for a better opportunity to fly by making right choice of weather. Political birds migrate with incentive of better opportunities from one party to other. It is unfortunate and highly unethical that this kind of migration takes place without any legal consequences. Let us examine the circumstances and the reasons of this unfortunate migration.

MULTAN: Pakistan Peoples’ Party Chairman Bilwal Bhutto Zardari addresses press conference at Gilani House in Multan on Sunday. He categorically warned the upheaval in country’s political
situation and condemned the undemocratic trend of ‘selling or buying’ political affiliations merely to gain the benefits. Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other party leaders are seated with him.

Category 1: There could be genuine migration if the highest party leadership of a party is not happy with a particular leader and then force him to migrate by satisfying himself and his voters and perhaps it is a bit acceptable.
Category 2: It is the tools when the leader feels that his leadership ignores his importance, which forces the leader to migrate.
Category 3: The pressure of friends and family to leave his party for some local and other personal reason or latent fears.
Category 4: This category is basically looks out the benefit aspects and asses the potentials of another political party vis-à-vis winning the elections this make the leader greedy and his own lust of power blinds him and he migrates to the other party hoping to win again and looking forward to get a flag car. This category attracts mass migration of the leaders and finally in search of better opportunities ignoring their damage in terms of their reputation.
There are four main lands in Pakistan that are available for migrating political birds, which can perhaps be named as Tehreek land, Peoples land, Noon Land and Q land. PPP got good number of seats in 2003 elections yet some veteran PPP politicians despite promising their loyalty to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and PPP, migrated towards Q League. I was present there and witnessed the whole thing and within 24 hours “Patriots” joined the Q Land / Gen. Musharraf in and rest is history.
It is part of the history that PML Q emerged out of PMLN and then PMLN sucked 19 prominent electable of PMLQ that include former MPA’s and MNA’s both.
Most of the temporary mass migrations of PPP and PMLN who lands to Tehreek land were basically planned through the so called propaganda of Tabdili as 15 prominent figures from PPP whereas 14 members from Noon land have migrated to Imran Khan’s Tehreek land.
History is repeating the cycle of migration that N league had started, by the migration of their own stalwarts to other political parties of the country. It’s a matter of time as many have left and others are weighing their options and soon we would see the migration ship full of such political migrants leaning for other destinations with the hope to get into power. Many of them already have done their part such as the 20 most veterans members of N land have joined hands with PTI and PMLQ.
Well there is no legal provision in the law to stop such migration and hence they are answerable to none except for their conscience. There are defections clauses present in the Constitution for the elected members only but not for the ones who are not the members of Parliament. The article 63(a) of the Constitution only provides for the disqualification of a member on grounds of defection. It says that if a member of a Parliamentary Party resigns from membership of his political party or joins another Parliamentary Party or votes or abstains from voting for the party to which he belongs, he/she would stand disqualified from being member of the Parliament.
According to the law, the only penalty the person who has defected faces is that he has to give explanation to the head of the party if the explanation is found unsatisfactory, the matter is referred to the Pakistan Election Commission for notification of his/her disqualification. The Chief Election Commission would, within seven days, declares the seat vacant and announces the by-elections for the vacant seat. This temporary political migration always creates one or more pressure groups to gain importance. It is ironic as to how people who are labeled to be corrupt and dishonest by a party, later gets rewarded and credited with party ticket by the same party. The party then portrays them as its valuable and clean assets.
This seasonal migration trend needs to be curbed out of the society; by putting ban on party changing at least one year before General elections and the person who commits defection must be disqualified for 10 years. Moreover, this must be imposed that any new arrival in the party will not be able to contest election in the new party for 5 years. The Nation needs to see the end of LOTAISM in every political party. It is being assessed that this political imbalance will be through shining Gold lotas and this political lotaism is expected with their strength to emerge as pressure groups in Federal and provincial level.
It will be displayed in the political showcase with the labels “Buy me if you can” and we will see they will fetch higher the prices at the cost of national interest.
(The author is a PPP Senator, former Interior Minister of Pakistan, and Chairman of think tank “Global Eye” and Senate Body on Interior and Narcotics. rmalik1212@gmail.com. @senrehmanmalik)