Voting and what it entails

Guest Blog

By Anam

In the weeks leading up to the elections there was excitement and enthusiasm in the air.  Not only the youth were talking about the upcoming elections but people from all segments of society, belonging to any age group were excited to fulfill their civic duty and cast their vote. Political debates with friends as well as acquaintances and persuasion to cast vote had become common practice of the day.

2013 elections were the first in which I participated. We all including my friends and family planned to cast our votes first thing in the morning and for this purpose reached the polling station early. The scene was shocking as there were long queues of women at polling booths early in the morning. After waiting for 90 minutes in the queue my turn came and that was the time when I couldn’t hold my excitement within myself; a big smile appeared on my face. Finally I walked towards the privacy of the stamping booth with my ballot paper; stamped, castemy vote and that was it! There was no influence, fear or pressure. I had all the privacy I needed to stamp my choice. The weight of duty lifted off my shoulder. I felt proud being part of something as big as this; being part of the process where for the first time democracy has been succeeded by democracy.

It was truly a pleasure to see people of all ages; the old, the young, the disabled in wheelchairs all knew only one thing: that they must cast their vote. No matter what happens, they must stand their ground. They hadn’t been brought there by force, but because they wanted to.  The elite class had finally discovered the vital importance of voting. The change has at last started. People have come out of their comfort zone and voted. This is small but first step to voice your opinion.

I returned home, excited; eagerly waiting for the results to be announced. But as evening approached the feeling of hopelessness enveloped me. Hearing the news regarding absent ballot boxes, the missing polling staff, the unopened polling booths and the pre-stamped ballot papers disheartened me and the enthusiasm of voting evaporated. But then again it was my first time to vote, it was my Mom’s first time too like most of the people I know, being lazy that we all are we never really cared what was to become of our country, all we needed was the motivation, the hope that Pakistan will see good times.

To cast vote is not where our duty starts and ends. An individual must make informed choices even when casting vote, they must understand the relevance of voting for their future lives, and aim to remove barriers resulting from inadequate knowledge of the voting process.  One need to educate him/ herself regarding the electoral process, and to understand the way in which issues a person might vote for affect them .Only then would a person will individually be voicing his/her demands rather than just being part of an echo.

Our political involvement should not be limited to just casting vote and sitting on sidelines hoping that good times will come. We should remain updated on what is going on in our country; we should get more informed through reading. Starting with our government’s history and our constitution we must think regarding what steps the government should take for the betterment of our country. Although these things may seem boring, they do help us become more politically involved. Political discourse was always something that I never felt completely comfortable contributing in, because I never felt I actually knew enough; so I just avoided putting my opinions out there. But this should not be our attitude. We must question ourselves – the delay in the results of the elections will hinder in the calling of the meeting of assembly, leading to delays in the budget formation; How will this delay further affect the economy of Pakistan?

All these questions must be looked into so that we stay involved in the political process and can hold our officials accountable. The ECP should try to overcome the flaws in the political process. Although ECP tried to make the process more transparent by printing pictures along with the ID numbers in the voting list much work needs to done. As for the new government the first and foremost focus should be on the restoration and maintenance of law and order. Pakistan is collapsing under sectarianism. Those who have taken up arms against the State and have targeted innocent civilians should be dealt with full resolve. The new government has the explicit support of millions of voters and their families. It should act swiftly and decisively to eliminate the seed of terrorism from Pakistan’s soil. After all, how can one do any business, or strive to better his lot, or express him or herself constructively while there’s a gun on their shoulders.