Vote by strict definition means a formal indication of a choice between two or more candidates or courses of action, expressed typically through a ballot or a show of hands. It is also termed as a choice expressed collectively by a body of electors, a specified group or an individual. In political terms, it is the right to register a choice in an election to a political office in any tier of government. Derived from the Latin word votum meaning ‘a vow or wish’, in political terms it has transformed its meaning to express one’s desire to support an individual, group or party to carry out an agenda(s) or policy(ies) which an individual voter considers appropriate for the welfare of a certain group, community or a nation. In the modern day political systems, where democracy is the most accepted and established international political standard of governance, voting is the preamble or basic foundation for edifice of such a system. Therefore, in order to have strong and effective democratic system, it must be built on strong and transparent foundations, the credibility of which is not questionable. For this to happen, an independent, free and transparent voting is the only option to ensure a strong foundation for democracy in any system. In Pakistan as well, when we urge the citizens to vote in an electoral process, the objective is to make them a part of the decision making process for the future policies to be implemented by their representatives for whom they have voted for. To realize this objective, the foremost priority is to make the citizens confident about utility of such an exercise. In other words, the voters should have faith in transparency of the exercise as well as equal opportunity for all those who participate in this exercise to get elected so that voter has a variety of choice among the candidate to be voted upon. Now two basic questions arise in such a situation particularly in case of Pakistan. First, whether the citizens have confidence in transparency of voting system so that they are sure that their voting has not been tampered with. Second, whether the voters have enough of variety of candidates to vote for a candidate he considers closest to his ideals to translate the policies as he desires appropriate for the country. Though in some sections of the society, there is a general feeling of alienation with the electoral system and unfortunately it also includes the educated and urban elite, it generates an extremely unwanted reaction by this section in the form of reluctance to vote. There is a strong opinion that those who resort to this abdicating posture are the ones who are otherwise supposed to be most active to mobilize the voters as they are likely to be the future leaders of country. Resultantly, this absence of the educated and politically aware voter from electoral arena in fact gives strength to electoral block of voters who vote on ethnic, linguistic, sectarian and tribal lines. Therefore, those having a broader understanding of the national issues and policies themselves leave the field open for the ones having little understanding of the same by leaving the field open for them. In a society divided on ethnic, sectarian, linguistic and tribal lines, any priority for vote on these lines in fact results in the election of public representatives having the same priorities as well as interests which are translated into the larger policy making of country in the form of physical and legislative development resulting in further polarization of society at the national level. Consequently what we see is that a certain group of individuals who are shortsighted with narrow thinking of just their own or their group’s interests, ultimately prevail over long term national policy formulation with patronization of the individuals having same ideas and thoughts just because they were not confronted by the votes of those who have an understanding to give a policy direction to the country. But why this happens. How can the educated elite be made to realize that by not participating in the electoral exercise, they are in fact facilitating those whom they otherwise criticize for taking wrong decisions and making the country move astray from the desired goals. In fact the trend of criticizing the government policies and decisions by just talking in drawing rooms and discussion forums and not coming out on the voting day is sign of an aversion to speak through their elected representatives. This is akin to a perpetual crime against the future generations by making democracy to fail as they say that to make democracy work; we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers as the one who does not vote has no right to complain.
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