Election at last

THE nation is crossing another milestone today in its journey towards democratic transition by electing representatives for National and four Provincial Assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, KP and Balochistan. This would mark completion of electoral process and the stage would set for installation of a new government to run affairs of the country. It is, indeed, satisfying that despite all rumours, wild speculations and some discouraging developments, voting is taking place all over the country sans constituencies where elections have been postponed by the Election Commission of Pakistan because of death/killing of the candidate or disqualification by the courts.
There have always been uncertainties about all elections because of vested interests involved but doubts about whether polling would be held on time remained there till the last day. Some elements created a situation where no one was sure about timely elections despite repeated assurances by all concerned including Caretakers, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar, who vowed that elections would not be delayed even for a single day until he was there as head of the country’s judiciary and Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. Now that elections are being held, it is responsibility of all stakeholders as well as people of Pakistan to make their contribution to ensure success of the entire exercise.
In the first place, peaceful environment is a key to ensuring that voters come out from their homes in great numbers. No doubt the Election Commission, in coordination with Pakistan Army and Police, has made necessary arrangements for maintenance of peace and a record number of security personnel have been deployed all over the country. Troops have reached their destinations and positions and no one should have any doubt about their ability to discharge the assigned job satisfactorily and professionally. However, it is also responsibility of the people to cooperate with them fully, keep a vigil on their surroundings and report any suspicious activity to the law enforcing agencies. This is particularly important in view of recent bomb blasts and suicide attacks in different parts of the country taking heavy toll of human lives besides assassination of candidates.
A code of conduct for security officials and candidates has been issued and it is hoped that all concerned would be following the code in letter and in spirit. It is also for voters to come out and cast their votes irrespective of severity of weather in most parts of the country and security threats. This is because they have to take part in the process of electing their representatives for the next five years. This is once in five-year chance, which must not be missed by any voter. Almost all voters have political affiliations and sympathies and they would obviously cast their votes accordingly but it is also time to ponder and make a choice on the basis of best of the best. And for parties, they should compare programmes and manifestoes of different political parties and give preference to the one that has most relevant plans as per ground realities and needs of the country and problems of the people. There is also issue of credibility of the electoral process in view of allegations by some parties and their apprehensions about different stages of the process. This issue can be addressed if all stakeholders make utmost efforts and remain vigilant to ensure fairness and transparency of the polls.
No party or individual should have any grievance as far as transparency and level playing field is concerned, otherwise legitimacy of the elections and the government to be formed would be undermined and the country can hardly afford another round of instability and trading of allegations. There should be a strong and stable government that could take bold decisions in the realms of economy, security and foreign affairs. Election Commission has devised a Result Transmission System, which would be facing first test tonight and hopefully it would come up to the expectations of the people. Last time, there was unprecedented delay in announcement of results sparking all kinds of speculations. We would also appeal to all candidates and participating parties to accept results with sportsman spirit. We wasted last five year in allegations and counter allegations as well as inquiries, commissions and judicial intervention into electoral results and it is time to allow the system to stabilise and deliver as per expectations of the masses.

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