Self-Awakening Stage: Making or breaking nation’s future in General Elections 2018, Pakistan on the brink
Election Day is one of the most exciting days of the year. Our nation comes together to elect a leader who will represent us on the global stage for the next four years. We will elect a leader that will stand for our rights as citizens, students, employees and employers.
We will elect a leader that will hopefully keep their promises. Sounds like a big decision, doesn’t it?
General elections are scheduled to be held in Pakistan on 25 July 2018. There are a total of 342 seats up for grabs, out of which 272 are general seats while the remaining 70 are special seats reserved for women and ethnic minority candidates.
For decades Pakistani politics has consisted of a series of military regimes interspersed with governments run by two parties: the Bhuttos’ Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Sharifs’ Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N).
There have been allegations of pre-poll rigging being conducted by judiciary, military and intelligence agencies to sway the election results in favor of PTI and against PML (N).
The duty of conducting elections are established in the Constitution of Pakistan. Established in 1956, the Election Commission of Pakistan holds the purpose of elections to Houses of Parliament, four provincial assemblies and for election of such other public offices as may be specified by law or until such law is made by the Parliament.
The common belief that pervades Pakistani society is that a single vote will not change the fortune of a nation, since the majority of the people comprise of conforming, obeying sheep, who do not have a voice of their own. This mentality goes against the law of nature, which asserts that even the tiniest drops of water make ripples throughout the pond.
Every five years, a healthy percentage of people choose to stay at their homes than to go out in the heat and play a part to decide their fate. You need to understand that whatever amenity and luxury you have will not last forever. Stop taking things for granted, stand up and read between the lines.
If you are reading this article, then you are more fortunate than 75% of the people in our country. So, talk to people to know about their problems and if the government did anything in their capacity to change their situations, visit remote areas to see if any development program has been started, notice if there are a good number of schools or vocational institutes to train and prepare our youth for the future.
You have a colossal responsibility; a lot is riding on your shoulders. Your decisions will dictate the outcome of this country, so put your pre-conceived notions and biased views aside, and vote – for yourself, your family and for Pakistan. If you are still in a corridor of uncertainty, here are a few reasons why you should vote.
It is a big decision, and this election marks a pivotal point in our nation’s history.
Currently, there are two very distinct paths our country will choose from and it is more important than ever to cast a vote in this election. I wish I could vote, and if you were not planning on going to the polls this election, let me help you reverse that decision:
1) First of all, voting is your right; use it! Voting is the opportunity to contribute to the political process, and the system was created to work best when everyone participates.
Therefore, using your right to vote is not just an addition to the voter turnout statistics published by every major media site (which consistently show seniors as having the highest voter turnout — time for the youth to pick it up).
Your vote actually matters and the nation wants and needs to hear your opinion. We live in a democracy (a term used lightly in our society).
A democracy is a system of government in which the entirety of the population participates. So, participate!
2) You have an opinion on the issues. There is no way you have been able to watch these debates without responding to the TV as if the candidates could hear your opinion.
The candidates represent two polar opposite views on issues like women’s rights, immigration, healthcare, education and taxes, and you undoubtedly have some opinion on it.
As a voter, you will be sharing your opinion on questions like: Who should be getting tax breaks? Should the government help fund education? Should illegal immigrants be allowed to stay in the United States to continue their education? Your opinion must be heard.
As a minor, I can advocate for issues that are personal to me and I can educate myself of the issues that will affect my future, but I cannot vote. As a legal adult, you must go to the polls and help shape the future of our country.
3) The local elections matter, too. We do have a presidential election every four years, but when you go to the polls you will also be voting for your local representatives.
It is so interesting that voter turnout has a significant spike during the presidential election, which is a result of the extensive media coverage, but many citizens don’t realize that some of the most important decisions made in this election will be a result of who gets elected as Senators, Representatives, and local officials.
So, if you are not excitedly supporting either of the presidential candidates, know that your trip to the polls is a multipurpose event.
A person, who is a citizen of Pakistan, is not less than 18 years of age on the first day of January of the year in which the rolls are prepared or revised, is not declared by a competent court to be of un-sound mind and is or is deemed to be a resident of an electoral area, can get their selves enrolled as a voter in that electoral area.
The citizens registered on the electoral rolls are only eligible to cast their votes.
Remember: voting is your opportunity to join the numerous Pakistani citizens in their quest for a better Pakistan.
Plus, watching the results of the election will be more exhilarating to the individual who voted. Go cast your vote!
So, why should you care and what will the election outcome mean for you?
Despite all the mundane ‘polly chat’ about budget deficits and party preferences, the results of this state election have the very real potential to impact the lives of all Pakistanis, including you.
You do believe in having the right to vote, but are unsure as to whether it really will make a difference.
So, should you vote or not?
Yes – if you want better healthcare, education and childcare, fairer taxation, basic income for all, good recycling facilities, better roads and transport, better local amenities.
• Voting is the most important way to make your voice heard on the issues that concern you.
• Voting gives you an opportunity to be part of decision-making that affects your life.
• If YOU don’t Vote Others will make the decisions for YOU!
• Decisions are made on your behalf every day, healthcare, education, housing, global issues like defense and environment and local issues like bins and leisure facilities.
But we need to use this Vote to have a strong and stable democracy.
Remember Your Vote is Your Voice and by Voting you can hold politicians accountable. Democracy and Voting matter and your say is important!
From the safety of your street to the quality of the air you breathe – Voting is an important way of having your say on the issues you care about.
Fears are mounting this election that still fewer young people will make the effort to register.
By voting you are also deciding who will take decisions on issues affecting your everyday life
History shows that democracies in danger of losing their freedom register frightening low voter turnouts.
In thriving democracies, people vote in large numbers and the people’s voice remains supreme.
Voting is your democratic right! You can make either make or break your future.
You either vote, or lose the right to complain.
Every year, many students like you turn 18 and cast their first ballot on Election Day, fulfilling the most basic action in a democratic society.
Voting is a fundamental process that keeps our system of government working. Through elections, citizens have the ability to decide on who represents them in government, be it a local official, a state or national representative, or the president.
On Election Day, voters will not only be able to select their representatives in government for the next term, but they also often have the ability to decide on measures like bond issues that grant the government permission to borrow money for construction projects and other developments.
Reading up on the issues, the candidates, and researching the ballot is also the responsibility of the citizen voter and a responsibility that should not be taken lightly, because it is your voice, with the many others, in unison, that can change the direction of a community, state, nation, and even the world.
At the same time, not voting, even if you have little faith in the system, would be foolish. To vote is to show your worth. If enough people of a certain demographic do it (I’m talking to you, millennials), the two big parties will see that there are underserved demographics they need to appeal to.
Still, people do continue to vote, in the millions. Why? Here are three possibilities:
1. Perhaps we are just not very bright and therefore wrongly believe that our votes will affect the outcome.
2. Perhaps we have been socialized into the voting-as-civic-duty idea, believing that it’s a good thing for society if people vote, even if it’s not particularly good for the individual. And thus we feel guilty for not voting.
But wait a minute, you say. If everyone thought about voting the way economists do, we might have no elections at all.
No voter goes to the polls actually believing that her single vote will affect the outcome, does she? And isn’t it cruel to even suggest that her vote is not worth casting?
This is indeed a slippery slope — the seemingly meaningless behavior of an individual, which, in aggregate, becomes quite meaningful.
“Stop voting. Stop pretending. Wake up. Be in reality now. Why vote? We know it’s not going to make any difference,” This is a sheer appeal, less a call to apathy and instead “absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery, deceit of the political class in the Pakistan” hit a nerve.
Past elections: General elections from 1954 to 2013
1st elections : 1954 (indirect elections) = PML
2nd elections : 1962 (indirect elections) = PML
3rd elections : 1970 = AL
4th elections : 1977 = PPP
5th elections : 1985 = PML (non-party basis elections)
6th elections : 1988 = PPP
7th elections : 1990 = IJI
8th elections : 1993 = PPP
9th elections : 1997 = PMLN
10th elections : 2002 = PMLQ
11th elections : 2008 = PPP
12th elections : 2013 = PMLN
One man one vote is the sine qua non of democracy, but very few citizens bother to cast their vote.
However, if we look into our constitution, we understand that it not only is our right but is a responsibility and a duty.
A simple piece of paper dares change the lives of millions. Think of it this way, the candidate you support is neck to neck with their rival, and as a result of your vote, he gets a ticket to the parliament; where he raises issues that you always wanted to resolve.
See, whichever elected government come to power, they will decide how to spend your hard-earned tax money. So, you ought to vote for those who spend it on the collective welfare of people than those who stack their foreign bank accounts.
The most important reason is that when you vote, you make a point that you are not merely existing and drudging along with life, it means you are alive – you have an opinion, an opinion that counts.
If you think by not voting you are rebelling, then you are living in a fool’s paradise. The establishment likes the way things are.
Hence, that is how they got their name. Bear the scorching heat for a day and vote this time, Pakistan needs you. After all, together we rise and together we fall.
Note: This article has originally been written by Urooj Fatima
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