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Importance of election symbols

It might be true in Shakespearian terms to question what is in a name but much can be said about symbols particularly symbols allocated to candidates contesting elections. As the first vote is being cast in fifty three districts of the country, individual-land turned it's attention towards elections symbols and what messages do these symbols give out.

As the Local Government Ordinances document, specific instructions have been issued for the allotment of election symbols to different categories. There are a whole list of symbols for Group I (Muslim) ,Group II (Muslim women ) Group III ( peasants /workers), Group IV(peasants women), Group V (Nazim and Naib Nazim) and Group VI (Minority communities) Each group has a set of symbols sub divided into different sections and the Returning Officer has been instructed to allocate from section (A) only if the number of candidates are 10 or less, Section B if between 10 and 15 and so on.

A cursory look at the symbols would reveal that the religious minorities have been given symbols which are interpreted in the Pakistani context as not very pleasing. In a country where a major political party objects and demands a public apology when the Father of the Nation is pictured with dogs, to allocate the symbols of a dog, rat and snake to Group VI i.e. the religious minorities is a telling statement. It is interesting to note that very little animals (taken in the Pakistani social context as not very pleasing) feature in the pool of election symbols selected for the other groups. Group I i.e. Muslim General has firstly very few animals and that too animals like ``elephant" which is a symbols of strength or ``Eagle (about to fly)" again a positive symbol, while Group II (Muslim women ) have only two animal symbols of butterfly (very feminine) and a stag ( symbols of strength) Group III Peasants/workers has only the fish, Group IV Peasant /women only the parrot , no animal symbols for the 5 group of Naib Nazims and Nazims and then dog, rat and snake for minority communities.

Individual-land confesses that in an environment where code of conduct violations are happening, where there is election related violence, where the government has to negotiate with a tribal jirga to allow women to vote, when private vehicles are being impounded by the government at great inconvenient to citizens to highlight the kind of symbols being allocated to the religious minorities might seem to be a non issue. However, individual-land would urge authorities to re think the issue as religious minorities are already discriminated against in Pakistan such symbols, in the Pakistani socio-political context adds insult to injury.



individualland.com (Last Updated Wednesday, 26 October 2016)

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