(Parliament Times) The voting exercise that had begun early in the morning and continued till 6pm in the evening without any break has finally come to an end as per the scheduled time issued by Election Commission of Pakistan. The polling has been by and large peaceful throughout the country barring a few incidents of violence in some constituencies. However, despite stringent security arrangements the anti-state elements have yet again wreaked havoc in Quetta where 22 people were martyred and 30 others injured in a suspected suicide attack near the city’s Eastern Bypass. But the fact is that despite highly volatile situation the people have come out of homes to cast their votes.
For a smooth polling process, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has deployed staff of around 1.6 million people at polling stations across the country, whereas 449,465 policemen and over 370,000 military personnel were deployed to maintain law and order situation in the country. According to the data provided by the Election Commission Pakistan, 105.955 million voters were declared eligible for exercising their right vote. Though there have been complaints regarding slow voting process at various polling satiations as a result PML-N, PPP and other stakeholders too had requested the Election Commission to extend the polling deadline but the commission had turned down the plea of political parties citing the reason that polling time was already extended by one hour. The commission, however, added that all voters present in the polling station at 6pm will be allowed to cast their votes. Preliminary reports suggest that people have turned in large numbers to cast their vote but at this stage it is quite difficult to say anything about the overall poll turnout.
Any ways it has been a big success, and the ECP in particular deserves all the praise for conducting the biggest electoral exercise in the country successfully and that too at a time when over all security situation had worsened due to spate of terrorist attacks on political rallies. Maintaining law and order situation and holding peaceful elections was certainly a huge challenge for the government as well as the security agencies. Now that an important milestone has been achieved it is imperative that political stakeholders demonstrate highest degree of maturity and sagacity to make sure that the transition of power takes place in a peaceful manner. Regardless of which party gains majority or forms the next government in the center the peaceful conduct of polls itself is a great achievement for Pakistan. It is indeed a victory of Pakistan and its democratic institutions. One hopes that outcome of today’s battle for democracy, will lead to much-needed political and economic stability in the country. Last but not the least, people of Pakistan have given their mandate, it is now the sole responsibility of elected representatives to maintain the spirit of democracy and prove that that the democracy we have is really what Abraham Lincoln had said, “Democracy is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”