Elections are the most happening and significant occasion where the fortune of the nation is being decided by the nation themselves. But wait, have you voted in recent elections? This question forms the basis of this blog and if you have not used your vote this time make sure you are well prepared to vote in the next election (this is your obligation as a citizen of the country). Below we will be discussing some important considerations that actually help you get ready for next election.

Conform Your Registration
So, the elections are coming and you still are not sure whether you are registered in voters list or not? Isn’t this nasty and gross? You need to be very sure that your name is listed in voters list well before elections. If you are not sure then it is your duty to find out from your local government or by any other means. Nowadays, voter list can be accessed over internet on many government or private websites. Start searching for your name and if you fail to find your name get in touch with local administration to get register.
Getting yourself registered among voters list is the utmost important and fundamental responsibility of all voters. As a responsible citizen of the society, everyone should be registered to use his or her fundamental right to vote. Unfortunately, voting ratio in our country is below among lowest in the world, which is reflected by turnover during past elections. Wait, this is not enough, you are obliged for not only your registration, but also you have to register all your family members. So, get your butts up and get ready to register for the upcoming election.

Get Familiar with your polling station
Once you get yourself registered in voters list, it is time to get familiar with your polling station. Usually you will have a polling station near to your residence but there are occasion where you might get troubled over the location of your polling station. So, make sure before the Election Day you are completely familiar with the precise location of polling station and avoid any messy delays.

Get Familiar with the Candidates:
Whoa! Are you thinking to cast your vote on linguistic, ethnic, or political affinity basis? Friend you got to be kidding right! Elections are not a joke and you need to understand the magnitude and stakes that are involved in elections. Do not just waste your vote to enhance your personal agenda or even community agenda. You have to understand things at a bigger perspective. Try to turn tables around this time and vote wisely. Choose the best candidate with a high morality and honest politician rather than any corrupt political parasites who will eventually suck the life out of the people.

Believe it that once the nation raise above their political and other affinities on the Election Day, the course of country would be changed forever. Though electoral process in Pakistan is not up to the international standards and there are loopholes for rigging, still the nation has to bear the responsibility of choosing the right candidate based on policy statement and not based on political affinity.

The views expressed by this guest blogger and the comments given by any visitor do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the pakvoter.

Being an informed citizen of Pakistan we should definitely have the information about national legal framework of the election laws and international standard which embark upon on our internal mechanism and serve as bench mark.
In order to analyze fairly, it is pertinent to have a start from the constitution first to know what it offers to its citizen. Do basic freedoms exist for exercise of fundamentals rights for citizen of Pakistan? Pakistan constitution 1973 covers protections for political and democratic rights for its citizens like freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of speech which mainly lays grounds for democratic culture in a country. Further constitution offers right of information to its citizens on all matters of public affairs and particularly state is responsible to treat all citizens on equality principle without any prejudice.

Regarding election conduct and appointment of election commissioner, constitution embarks through article 218 and 213 and offers democratic process amended by 2010 legislative body. Similarly Article 219 of the Constitution, under 18th Amendment, assigns the Election Commission with the responsibility of preparing electoral rolls and revising them annually as well as conducting elections to the Senate or filling up the vacant seats in the Parliament and the Provincial Assemblies. Further, the Commission can also appoint Election Tribunals to adjudicate upon post-election disputes and conduct local government election under newly amended articles.
Previously electoral laws were mostly amended by the military regimes with overwhelm intent to extend military rule, deter political course and to restrict working of political parties. Like Political Parties Order 2002, Conduct of General elections 2002, Allocation of election symbols 2002 etc. Though legal framework for electoral laws exist in country in bits and parts and needs to be reformed in consolidated manner; it must cover aspiration of democratic processes for political parties and transparent mechanisms for election conduct necessarily if country is proceeding towards democracy.

Democracy Blog: Evolution of Democracy in Pakistan
Pakistan is sixth most populous country in the world, created on the basis of popular will of people in 1947 with the vision to have a liberal, moderate and democratic parliamentary federation. Soon after independence, Pakistan adopted British legacy constitutional framework and introduced the parliamentary democracy, following much from the Government of India Act 1935 – the last constitution of British India.However, Pakistan being a postcolonial state, the democratic experience was underpinned by the steel frame of bureaucracy and political stability and institutionalized democratic set up remained a distant dream.
Democracy: Space for Civil Society
Technology aided elections is the latest fever that grips those concerned in any way with the elections in Pakistan. To them it is a ‘silver bullet’ that will deliver free, fair and transparent elections. Apparently they are well on their way to reinventing the wheel. Recently ECP, on the recommendation of Parliamentary Electoral Reforms Committee, has piloted Biometric voter verification system (BVVS) in a by-election in Haripur. The assumption on the part of pro technology segments is that an overwhelming majority of the electorate during the 2018 elections will be a smart phone using one; hence will be more at home using technology to cast their vote.
Democracy: Rise of Nations
Democracy is a system in which all the people or members of a society, community, country, state and nation have equal right to vote and power. Democracy is actually a wakeup call for the sleeping nations to alter their political fate. Every nation and state has its own ideology of democracy. It is a misunderstanding of politics that systems of government are like pieces of machinery which can be imported from other countries and would work as efficiently as they worked in the country of their origin; or a system of government can be successfully transplanted from one country to another. Every society has its own traditions of behaviors. Political and democratic systems usually arise from the traditions of behaviors.
Democracy: The backbone of a system
Democracy and participatory governance are popular political nations in today’s world. Fair and free elections are the key pre-requisite of democracy. However, democracy lacks substance unless the electoral process is coupled with the supremacy of the constitution, the rule of law, and civil and political rights and freedoms for the people. The state must practice the principle of equal citizenship irrespective of religion, caste, ethnicity and regional background. It must also ensure equality of opportunity to all for advancement in social, economic and political domains and guarantee security of life and property of its citizens.
Democracy: The most essential and fundamental element
Democracy is the most essential and fundamental element for managing the affairs of society systematically. Democracy and participatory governance are popular political patterns in the modern world. In a broader sense democracy encompasses the leading features; fair and free election process, supremacy of the constitution, the rule of law, and freedom for the people. In other words democratic state must practice the principles of equal citizenship irrespective of religion, caste, ethnicity and regional background. It must also ensure equality of opportunity to all for advancement in social, political and economic domains and guarantee security of life and property to its citizens.
Democracy: How wrongly do we strive?
Democracy was once considered a phenomenon that meant that, it was a government that was organized for the people, by the people and of the people. Today, Pakistan remains a paradox in the world. Democracy alone has been one of the biggest factor that plunged back Pakistan from the heights of justice, national growth and better economy for the poor class. The providence of democracy in Pakistan has only been injustice, questions on national solidarity and the show of power of the elite. Alas! How wrongly do we strive to build and maintain this nation?
Democracy is a universal value
Democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives.
While democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy.

It was on March 16, 2013 when National Assembly of Pakistan dissolved accomplishing its five years term. This happened first time in the history of Pakistan that National Assembly & Provincial Assemblies completed constitutional duration without military interference. Then the nation geared up for general elections in May, 2013. Pakistan election results were supposed to be credible and fair. It is evident that one of the essentials for making electoral process genuine and credible is the opportunity to get resolution for the disputes and complaints pertaining to the electoral process. This opportunity is equally significant for both citizens as well as contestant political profiles. The transparency, legitimization, and fairness heavily depend upon the country’s sound Election Dispute Resolution mechanisms (EDR). Unfortunately, Pakistan’s legal framework is not strong enough to provide adequate EDR processes consistent with international commitments. Though several efforts were made recently involving certain amendments in electoral legislations in order to review and eradicate the weaknesses in the EDR systems, yet the changing couldn’t make much difference in the electoral politics in Pakistan.
This discrepancy or the absence of effective system for electoral dispute resolution exposes the electoral process with a fundamental challenge. It consequently can lead to invalid election results and puts the political stability at risk. Moreover, an effective system is vital to bring Pakistan up to international conventions. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which establishes basic rights i.e. right to vote or to be elected at fair periodic election feels necessity for Pakistan to stand as State Party via covenant to ensure powerful counter step for violation of these rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Art. 85); ICCPR (Art. 2 & Art. 25), and the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD, Art. 5.6) also enshrine the right to a sound remedy for the breach of rights.
Currently, the dispute resolution system of Pakistan is grounded partially in legislation and partially in informal practices formulated by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The formal dispute resolution processes are derived from Constitution and the Representation of the People Act (ROPA), 1976. In order to fill up the gaps in this system and eradicate the ambiguities of the process, the EDR framework is strongly required to be built purely upon law or Parliament act. This framework should have distinctive demarcations concerning authority levels and jurisdictions between political profiles and courts. Moreover, the whole process should be cost effective, easy-to-follow and accessible to electoral parties and other individuals as well. By the same token, it is vital that the EDR procedures for transparent and prompt dispositions of the pre-polling & polling day’s complaints should involve predetermined regulations. Though the ECP has worked out to develop certain strategies to improve the dispute resolution procedures yet a constant review and update in the existing framework is required for fair remedy consistent to the international conventions.

The views expressed by this guest blogger and the comments given by any visitor do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the pakvoter.

The presidential elections are taking place in Pakistan today, another major landmark for democracy after the successful general elections held in may and the peaceful transition of power to the new government.
There has been very hectic lobbying ahead of the presidential elections with Pakistan Muslim league nawaz putting forth the name of Mamnoon hussain and getting backing from around eight smaller political groups, including Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party (NP), Qaumi Wattan Party (QWP), Pakistan Muslim League-Zia (PML-Z) and Balochistan chapter of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid.
The second candidate Justice (red) Wajihuddin ahmed was put forth by Pakistan Tehreek I Insaf and supported by its ally Jamaat E Islami. While it seems that as per current situation it is Mamnoon hussain that will win, we must realise that for the second time in recent history we are going to have a properly democratically elected president.
While many scoff at the process and call it a sham and make claims of irregularities during elections. We must understand that even despite irregularities and miscounts and re voting in some areas of Pakistan we have to move forward whilst putting the questions being asked to courts of law to decide upon them, as the system instructs us to do.
There are a multitude of issues facing us as a country, from power woes to an economic crunch to an ever increasing burden of the war we are fighting with the taliban. However the only way out of these issues if there is even a way out in the time period given to one government is the nexus of civilian and military leadership of which the president is the figurehead.
As always social media is going to be watching and making sure any of the cracks seamed over by the mainstream are explored to the fullest as they were during the general elections. We now have digitally enabled members of the national assembly from various parties feeding directly into the network as well. In short we are watching the watchers here.
So here is hoping then new president of Pakistan can provide us able leadership and take us forward with positive notes.

The views expressed by this guest blogger and the comments given by any visitor do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the pakvoter.

The election in 2013 will be remembered for couple of reasons in the history of Pakistan, one of which is the high turnout. The role played by Election Commission of Pakistan in this regard has to be applauded. It was ECP, under the leadership of Honorable Justice (R) Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim, which worked day and night to increase registered voters all across Pakistan. Figures show remarkable increase in registered voters as compared to the 2008 general elections i.e. an increase of 5,393,420 registered votes.

NADRA played a key role in supporting ECP for increasing registered voters. Among the various interventions, NADRA, in accordance with orders from Supreme Court of Pakistan, issued CNIC to the transgender community of Pakistan. Additional efforts were made by NADRA with support of UNWOMEN and ECP to increase women votes in 2013 elections. These efforts were fruitful and a total of 37,597,415 female votes were registered for 2013 election as compared to 48,592,387 male votes. It is estimated that even the women turnout was higher this time, keeping in view the overall 55% turnout. Although not many female candidates made it to assemblies as compared to 2008 elections, it is believed that women participation did increase manifold. While a lot has to be done to increase women participation, there is still more that is required, especially in terms of commutation to polling stations on election days, as due to lack of transport and other cultural and religious obligations women do not make it polling station to cast their vote.

NADRA also enrolled transgender community and issued them with CNICs. This move came after a Supreme Court ruling instructing both NADRA and ECP to acknowledge status of transgender community and their right to vote as citizens of Pakistan. NADRA figures show approx., 600 transgender male and female members were issued CNIC. This may not be true representation of transgender community in Pakistan, but a move towards right direction.

Use of technological advancement also played an important role in increasing number of votes for 2013 election. NADRA introduced SMS services keeping in view access of mobile phone services to a large population of Pakistan. This service enabled registered voters to locate their polling stations hence saving their efforts to physically go and verify. Moreover, on Election Day presiding officers were provided voter lists having pictures of registered voters. This proved to be very useful in verification of voters. Also, NADRA used fingerprint-screening system to verify votes in different districts after elections to verify valid votes.

We should also not forget the positive role played by all political parties despite threats from militants and terrorists in different high security risk areas of Pakistan. Several Pakistani men and women were killed and injured in bomb blasts and IED attacks on political party offices and rallies. It was heartening to see that all political parties despite clear threats continued their participation in electoral process and did not back off. Security forces despite limited resources ensured elections were carried out in a safe manner. Special security measures were put in place for polling stations on Election Day. Election staff along with security personnel ensured polling stations remained a safe place for voters. These special arrangements encouraged voters to come out and vote despite tense security situation in different parts of Pakistan. Voters were seen standing in long queues and waiting for their turn, hence showing their confidence in arrangements made by ECP and its partners for successful conduct of elections.

We yet have to see another important electoral process happening this year i.e. local government elections. As per constitution, ECP is responsible for conducting local government elections in collaboration with Provincial Governments. As we wait for final schedule to be announced by provincial governments, it is evident that this will be another milestone in Pakistan’s electoral history. We are hopeful that the process will be more streamlined and all lesson learnt during 11 May elections will be incorporated.

The views expressed by this guest blogger and the comments given by any visitor do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the pakvoter.

Ever since the war on terror began, Pakistan has been sufferring from the malaise of we cant do it. Its either we can’t meet our debts or we can’t combat these militants or we can’t fly a plane straight or we can’t take care of our own (floods 2010) The point being that negativity is at a full time high and the same mantra has been repeated again and again till is become ingrained in the back of all our minds.

So obviously when it was time for the elections this year the same old demons started rearing their heads. Initially it was hard enough getting all parties to agree on one leadership for the election commission but once Fakhruddin G Ebrahim was selected and put into place unity began to shine through the cracks of naysaying. Although the task in front of him seemed so monumental many doubted that the elections would ever take place.

Amidst desperate attempts by conspirators and talibans alike, with the background of bombs exploding and security on high alert the fact that we still managed to pull off Elections 2013 and with a 55% record turnout is nothing short of extraordinary.

Was it a perfect process though? Obviously not but what electoral process is perfect? There are gaps everywhere, some of those in the form of revoting in areas with ballot issues have already taken place and the rest are pending in the courts. By and large however all parties have accepted the mandate of the people and moved on. Why shouldn’t they? When the mandate itself seems to be completely at par with the national narrative at the moment.

For the future however the election commission needs to use more technology, even though the pictures of voters on forms this time next to names via NADRA was appreciable. Bio metric scanners need to be in place especially in districts where there is a history of electoral fraud to ensure further transparency in the electoral process. The media too needs to move beyond the drawing board scenario analysis and have exit polls which actually make any sense. Going on to announce who had won based on a 2% sample does not an exit poll make!

All being said and done, we have proven to ourselves that if there is political will a successful transition from one democracy to another is possible in this nation. Now we the people of Pakistan have to make sure that these transitions become a norm rather than a rare occurrence in the elections to come. For only through successful elections in the future can we be able to as a nation exercise our right of choice, so thank you ECP and please keep it up!

The views expressed by this guest blogger and the comments given by any visitor do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the pakvoter.