Saturday August 20, 2022

Free and fair

July 02, 2022

Democracy, where power is vested in the hands of ordinary citizens, is considered the most desirable type of government. Research shows that voter participation grows when the citizens have greater faith in the fairness and transparency of the electoral process, strengthening the country’s democratic foundations. Failure to hold free and transparent elections turns citizens apathetic to the entire democratic setup. This is reflected in the abysmally low turnout in the recent by-elections held in Karachi and the first phase of local government elections held in 14 districts of Sindh. Soon after the local government elections, some videos showing large-scale brazen manipulations went viral on social media. In addition, some media reports suggest that powerful local politicians threatened people to make them vote in their favour. These incidents partly justify citizens' disinterest in the democratic process.

These underhanded manipulations of the elections give political parties and their supporters a chance to point fingers at each other, exacerbating the political polarization that is already at its peak. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) must ensure that all elections are held in a manner that is free, transparent, and acceptable to all stakeholders. Failure to do so will further divide society at a time when it needs unity in the face of rising incidents of terrorism and a faltering economy.

Asad Aziz