Here's Why 2018 Elections aren't More of the Same
Elections when regularly and transparently held surely leads to greater public awareness and strengthen the roots of true inclusive democratic culture within the society. The true democratic approach also promotes greater tolerance of diverse opinions leading to well thought out, mature and collectively acceptable policies and norms in the larger interest of the country. Such an approach holds better promise especially in countries like ours having a diverse ethnosectarian blend that actually can be converted into an asset as is being done in successful democracies of the world. Despite the difficulties that Pakistan`s democratic process has been having over the last seventy years for a variety of reasons, its continuing determination to establish a truly democratic system in the country is commendable.
All elections conducted in our country so far have mostly been won or lost through our rural vote. This has primarily been because of the utter disenchantment of the urban literate populous with the available feudal and industrial elite in the field, exchanging hands in the loot and plunder of the country. Though it has taken a little longer, there seems greater awareness and hope this time, with new faces on the scene equally mobilizing the silent majority including the urban elite. This and few other reasons have made this process this time more interesting, appealing and a defining moment galvanizing the majority towards the polling booths on 25 July 2018.
So what makes the 2018 elections different? One, unlike the traditional, tried out parties and leaders, the nation has a third choice that is visibly operating from a moral high ground backed up by twenty years of unblemished struggle led by an honest person. Two, with the status quo forces under visible threat, both domestic and international stakeholders have visibly connived to sabotage the effort come what may. The recent spate of terrorism in the country is a clear manifestation of their frustration with what seems visible to them on the wall – a defeat to their designs in the country and region. Three, a determined accountability process backed up by a proactive media has for the first time in our history sent a three times Prime Minister from Punjab to jail on corruption thus awakening the silent majority pulling them to the polling booth to make a difference. Four, status quo political forces seeing their defeat have resorted to openly maligning state institution including Judiciary, Army, and NAB. It never happened at this scale before. Maligning these critical institutions at a time when the country has just defeated the menace of terrorism to a great extent at heavy cost is surely advancing the agenda of powers bent on undoing Pakistan. Greater public support and a decisively positive role by the media frustrated their designs. Five, appropriate regulations for print and electronic media and corresponding positive cooperation by the media houses in refraining from sensationalizing events have to a great extent defeated the enemies designs to create anarchy and despondency in the country. This was not seen before. Six, despite the security challenges, the coming election is visibly seeing a much greater participation from the urban electorates that will besides quality choices be a great help for the rural electorates in making their choices.
Despite the visible and invisible odds, the 2018 election and its corresponding outcome will shape and impact Pakistan's future course in a big way. For the first time, the status quo and regressive forces have been put on the defensive and the forces of change successfully appealing to the common people. Notwithstanding the challenges, the state and its institutions need to ensure that the process is taken forward with absolute impartiality and transparency in the true democratic spirit that remains the key to progression and ultimate guarantor of our national interests.
About the Author: Mr. Saad Khattak retired as a Major General from the Pakistan Army, he regularly publishes analysis on important national matters. The opinions expressed in this piece are his own.