Believe in democracy


The twelfth general elections, held on February 8, have created an atmosphere of uncertainty and distrust. A very famous quote, which is commonly attributed to Mark Twain, “History does not repeat itself but it often rhymes,” can be well-applied to the situation of each general election in Pakistan. The circumstances and settings may have been different, but the same phenomena occur repeatedly. As written by the former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman, in an article for The Economist, “Pakistan’s Election Could Be a Farce”, validates the current situation.
Numerous US journalists have spoken about the ill conduct of general elections as it poses a huge question to democracy. With international media, including CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera, Financial Times, and several other mainstream broadcasting outlets showing their deep concerns towards the transparency of the 2024 general elections, it will be hard for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to confront the allegations of rigging.
This time, a vast number of people had registered to cast their votes in the general elections – including overseas Pakistani citizens who arrived from foreign countries specifically for this turning event. According to FAFEN, about 60 million people took part to exercise their right to vote – making it the largest number of voters in the history of Pakistan. Such a huge number of participants shows that people are not only interested in change but they sternly believe in democracy. However, the misadventure on the very next day of the polls turned the tables and the whole nation was left in doubt.
Prior to polls, each party struggles to gain as much support as possible by carrying out election campaigns, which is their constitutional right. However, for the members of PTI, things have been different. As evident from reports, many of the party workers were detained and a level playing field was absent. Despite a severe crackdown on PTI members and its supporters, the party remained the most popular in the country and people have shown outstanding support in the form of votes.
Democracy, as defined, is “the government of the people, for the people, and by the people”, which means that in a democratic state, it is the people who choose their leader. Any party leading with a majority of votes can form a government. It is totally against the principles of democracy that some external elements are trying to steal the mandate of the people. Pakistan is not new to this misfortune as similar events have occurred before too. However, amid political chaos, the government is once again jammed, with very limited options to resolve the issue of seat distribution.
The authorities should combinedly work to bring transparency and openness to the system in order to regain people’s trust in the government. Each general election held in the past may be called anything but democratic – given the meddling of the military institutions. This is indeed high time for the ECP and establishment to reflect on its mistakes and think about that one narrative. If it is not about the will of the people, what is the purpose of democracy?