Be Patient, Young Voter!

Protests, protests everywhere!

Ever since the announcement of results of General Elections 2013, there have been widespread protests all over the country. These protesters complain of rigging and beseech the Election Commission of Pakistan to conduct re-polling in the shadiest areas. All is well till this part but things start getting murkier when these so-called educated elite of our country start harassing the media and indulge in skirmishes with the supporters of the rival parties. This behavior is certainly condemnable and must be discouraged.

But the question arises, what made these inhabitants of posh areas come out on the streets? These people who (for the most part, in the history of Pakistan) preferred to stay away from the electoral process? However, they participated fully and very enthusiastically this time. They had hopes of changing their country with the power of their vote. And that’s why I believe they’re so disappointed and shocked by the results!

Democracy is a smooth transition from one government to the next. Thus it’s different from revolutions! So expecting a revolution via democratic process may have been a bit un-realistic on our part. Therefore now is the time to accept the election results and move on with life. We’re still a long way from solving the myriad of problems being faced by our country.

First, the ECP will announce the election results in the official gazette. Then, within 3 days, the independent candidates will have to affiliate with a political party. This process may further clarify the position of the parties forming the government and opposition in the National Assembly. After this, by-elections will be held on some seats. By-elections will be conducted on two types of seats: where any of the electoral candidates died before the elections and where a single candidate won from multiple seats. This latter candidate can retain only one seat of National Assembly and has to resign from the rest. For example, Imran Khan of PTI won from Peshawar, Mianwali and Rawalpindi. However, in the end he can keep only one constituency and by-elections would be held on the rest.

Consequently, the National Assembly session is called within 21 days of the Election Day. The Members select the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition. Only then can the debates on national issues begin. Nevertheless, keeping our current political scenario in mind, PML N is all set to form the government but it’s as yet unclear as to who will be the opposition leader. Many observers hope that Imran Khan will be the one because he can keep the government on tenterhooks to solve the country’s problems.

Therefore, those who believe that Pakistan has been stolen a golden chance to change its destiny have much to cheer up for. In any case, the new parliament will be much more empowered than the last hung parliament with a so-called friendly opposition!

And this is the kind of smooth transition that democracy brings. Things change slowly and gradually but on a permanent basis. Isn’t this better than bloody revolutions which cause intense collateral damage yet a positive change can’t be ensured?! Egypt is a perfect example of such a revolution. The dictator, Hosni Mobarak was overthrown violently but that country is still rampant with bloodshed, corruption and poverty!

Surely, we don’t want Pakistan to turn that way. Moreover, conditions in Pakistan are a lot better. We have a free media, independent judiciary and impartial army. All of which we have achieved after a lot of sacrifices. A strong democracy is definitely in the pipeline but we must give it time. Even in developed countries like US and UK, it took centuries for democracies to develop and prosper. There is a long history of struggles, wars and bloody movements by the minorities and suppressed. Women till early 20th century did not have the right to vote! However, the inhabitants of these countries persevered and now their democracies are considered models for the rest of the world!

Hence, we must celebrate the victories that we’ve achieved: more than 60% turnout in the elections; comparatively free and fair elections; ousting of incompetent past governments (PPP in NA and ANP in KPK) and most importantly success of democracy and of Pakistan!

So do not despair, dear young voter! And be patient!

Cheers! Stay blessed!

P.S. Nawaz Sharif’s today’s visit to Imran Khan in Shaukat Khanum Hospital is an example of the emerging tolerance in our political leaders. Another success for democracy in Pakistan!

Abbreviations: PTI = Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, PML-N = Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, ANP = Awami National Party, KPK = Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, ECP = Election Commission of Pakistan.

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