Elections and Public Participation

Participation in election is an important phenomenon for the destiny of any country or for the lives of citizen inhabiting there, because through this process political parties succeed power and authority to rule public and make decisions for their lives. It means political system combined with electoral mechanisms determines the public way of living or thoughts for their life decisions. This notion raises many general and common queries which definitely come into many minds. Other perspectives of this idea can be like that “Are our life decisions are taken by others? Or government controls the life matters of its citizens. Are decisions taken by government are accordance with people... more

Democratic governance and the right to information – From disgruntled youth to active citizens

I visited my university a few days ago and while passing alongside the cafeteria, I decided to step in and have a cup of tea. While I sat there enjoying the beverage; I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation of young students sitting on the table opposite to mine. The topic was politics and all of the youngsters seemed obviously disgruntled. “What use is all this voting and elections?” One of them said. “It’s just a ploy to fool the citizens”, another responded angrily. The emotionally charged discussion of the students continued as I stood up and, introducing myself, asked the students if I could join them, which they happily agreed to. After telling them about the good... more

Is Democracy an answer to all problems in Pakistan?

I often hear people say: ‘what has democracy given us’? It is followed by a tirade against corrupt politicians. The issues and the problems that an average Pakistani faces on daily basis are not because the democracy but because of the lack of democracy. The story of Pakistani democracy is basically a short sentence of democracy punctuated with lots of dictatorships. Furthermore, democracy has not taken root in the country. Even political parties are still in the process of becoming democratic. For example, representatives that we elect for federal and provincial assemblies are supposed to carry out legislative business. However, these members of federal and provincial assemblies get... more

The Role of Constructive Opposition

Political development in Pakistan is passing at critical stage as on the one hand, democracy has succeeded to achieve its continuity through General Elections 2013, and on the other hand, this hitherto recognized smooth transfer of democratic regime face threats based on often alleged accusations of electoral rigging, energy crisis, and ‘friendly opposition’. In view of some citizens’ lead by some political parties, the political party in rule have made collusion with mainstream opposition parties and face no opposition to whatever it is doing in the name of governance. This accusation may be true because in developed democracies, constructive opposition plays significant role in... more

Know your candidate

Know your candidate In developed democracies citizens cast their vote on the basis of political ideology, collective interests, and manifesto of political parties. Nevertheless, in this part of the world where we live, vote is casted based on self-interests, biradary (caste system), language, ethnicity, sectarian affiliation, and local groupings ( dharay bandi ki siyasat). In doing this voters even do not really know the persons to whom he or she is voting. It is also observed that citizens vote candidates or political parties of their likeliness without knowing the profiles of political parties or candidates. Although political parties issue their political manifesto before elections,... more

Youth and Politics – How to keep them motivated

Young people’s political participation has been a growing concern since long. Loss of community ties, lack of political process, low level of trust on politicians and growing suspension on democratic institutions are many reasons of youngster’s week political association. But recent trends reveal that youth are much more interested into political knowledge than ever before. Labels like “the youth are apathetic” or they do not care about politics are enforced upon them by a status quo that does not understand the needs of young people. Young people are concerned with policy developments and the trajectory that their country is going through.Pakistan is one of the world’s largest... more

Accountability of Politicians and the ‘Court of People’

We often hear politicians referring to the ‘court of people’ on TV. Whenever some politician is prosecuted against alleged corruption, we hear this ‘mantra’ of ‘the court of people’. The argument goes like this: Since people elected me, so they will decide whether I am crooked or not’. I find this argument absolutely amusing. Never underestimate power of crooked politician in muddling up issues! How can courts of law be interchanged with elections to determine whether somebody is financially clean or not? Elections only determine as to what extent a political party or a politician is able to articulate the demands of people. So, a politician may be extremely good at... more

Women’s Participation in Elections

Being a woman myself, this blog post is rather close to my heart. I belong to the lot of fortunate urban women who can exercise their voting rights, however there are still many areas in Pakistan where women are either discouraged or out-rightly banned by the local communities from casting their votes. For quite a while now I’ve found myself complaining about women’s lack of participation in the voting process but most of my venting has been with close friends and family. However, I believe it’s about time that I stop preaching to the already converted and speak with everyone and anyone who’s interested in listening! Now I understand that the 2013 General Elections showed some... more

Women and Electoral Politics

Pakistan’s outgoing National Assembly of 2013 was the first one in the country’s history to complete a full five-year term. This elected assembly was also exceptional in another aspect. The activity of female parliamentarians was astounding. 20 out of 53 private members’ bills during the government’s tenure were moved by women, and women outperformed their male counterparts in terms of formal interventions during parliamentary proceedings Although I am not a parliamentarian or someone close to the house, but, as a keen student of media and politics, I often noticed that women parliamentarians went the extra mile and put in the extra effort to prove their worth. Interestingly, even... more

Transgender Participation in the Electoral system

I think the most marginalized part of our society is that of transgender. They have got no civic rights what so ever. They are not allowed to study, make their living doing honorable work or the work which we may do ourselves. We cannot accept them doing anything but begging in the streets or dancing at our weddings and child births. According to figures, there are almost 300,000 transgender in our country. I am sure the figure would be higher. But as we have pushed them to the periphery of the society and our living districts, they do not gel well with the main stream population and now reside in places less frequented by others. Though, our law has been considerate, but the... more

Public Resources used for Electioneering

The transparency of spending during the election campaign is one of the most crucial factors which ensure transparency of elections and credibility of its results. It especially becomes tricky when you consider spending of the incumbent government. The system has to ensure that the government in power is not using its influence to manipulate elections of using official resources in terms of money and machinery to sway votes in its favor. There is a stringent clause in the code of conduct chalked out by the election commission of Pakistan in this regard: “Issuing of advertisements at the cost of public exchequer in the newspapers and other media and misuse of official mass media during... more

How to cast your vote

Armed with my vote registration information and electoral information, which I got from sending my CNIC number to 8300, I ventured to the polling station to cast my vote. With a quicker heart beat and suspense that who will win the elections, I walked with my head held high, sure in my heart that my vote will shape the future of my country. The whole country was engulfed in the colors of elections. Every street was plastered (sometimes very untastefully) with election slogans; candidates profile pictures and banners displaying their past achievements trying to influence the voter to give their vote to them. I was welcomed by a long queue, of at least 200 people waiting to poll their... more

The Biometric System of Voting

Being an avid Twitter user, I usually get my scoop of the hottest discussion topics in Pakistan from the top trends that do rounds on this micro-blogging website. One trend that has been popping up every now and then recently is #ImplementBiometricSystem. In all honesty for the first few days I was too lazy to search out what this trend actually signified – I mean I had a working understanding of what biometric system was but there was little understanding when it came to introducing it for the electoral process. However, eventually my curiosity got the best of me and I finally went to Reverand Google for some answers and what I discovered is worth sharing with you! Now it’s not... more

Pakistan’s Democracy at a Crossroads

Democracy in Pakistan has historically witnessed multiple deaths in infancy by repeated military takeovers due to a number of reasons. The dilemma of failure of political leadership in initial years to take prompt decisions regarding the type of government and powers of federating units was the first act of weakening the foundations of a strong democratic setup in Pakistan. By delaying these decisions and not holding elections, which is the very foundation of democracy, the initial political leadership undermined establishment of democratic culture and norms by attempts to continue in power by any means which also included obtaining support of military establishment by giving it a formal... more

Free and Fair Elections – A Test Case for Democracy

Though democracy is not all about elections, but still the electoral process has extreme significance in a democratic system as it is the cornerstone of superstructure of democracy. The electoral process gives right to individuals to elect their representatives who ultimately influence political foundation and direction of a government. In any civilized setup, while using the term elections, transparency of the whole process i.e., the same being free and fair is by default covered in the meaning of the term election. This has also been accepted as fundamental human right in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights which sates in its Article 21 that "Everyone has the right to take... more