People’s voice

Published February 8, 2024

THERE is a hush today in the corridors of power. A higher force stirs. The time is at hand for the people of Pakistan to speak and for others, in nations near and far, to bear witness to their decision. This electoral cycle has been unlike any in recent memory.

At stake are not only the continuity and evolution of the country’s crisis-ridden political system but also the foundations of its social contract. With the country at a crossroads, 128m voters have been handed the power to decide which path it should take forward. It is hoped that most will exercise it today in any one of the more than 92,000 polling stations nationwide.

Thousands are contesting for the 266 National Assembly seats, and thousands more for a seat in one of the provincial assemblies. By tonight, hopefully, we will know whom the voters have chosen to trust.

It is important that everyone make themselves heard. Our freedoms and choices may be limited, but the only lawful means to improve our lot is by voting in sound and capable leaders who are best suited to representing us in parliament. This right should not be foregone.

Exercising the vote is not merely a civic duty; it is an assertion of one’s freedom, a declaration of agency, and a reaffirmation of one’s belonging to this nation. We are fortunate to have this right, which has been earned through the sacrifices of generations past.

This election has been a silver lining throughout the tumult that has lately roiled Pakistan. For months, the people have been looking forward to having a say in who ought to be making executive decisions on their behalf. Despite many apprehensions, they have held on to the belief that their right to choose will make a difference. Today, as this right is exercised, the public’s will must be respected by all without qualifications or limitations.

The ballot box is not merely a receptacle for pieces of paper. It is the crucible in which millions of Pakistanis place their aspirations, grievances and dreams as they renew their contract with the state. It is important that the state respects this trust and facilitates the exercise in every manner.

The tragic loss of life in Balochistan yesterday has cast a pall of gloom. As indicated in the editorial below, the state must take every measure to ensure citizens’ security today and guarantee that the polling exercise will be held in a safe environment.

Given that they are being held after considerable delay, it is important that voters are able to participate freely in these elections, which must be concluded to the public’s satisfaction. History awaits our people’s verdict. The state should not falter or fail them in this defining moment.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2024

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