Why elections in Pakistan are important?
Pakistan on Saturday began votingA in landmark polls to choose new national and provincial assemblies. The poll marks the first time that an...
Pakistan on Saturday began votingA in landmark polls to choose new national and provincial assemblies. The poll marks the first time that an elected civilian administration in Pakistan has completed a 5-year term and has stood aside to allow voters to choose its successor.A This highlights the significance of this democratic election in the country's 66-year history. So far, there have been three military coups and four military rulers in the country. This year, more than 86 million people are registered to vote in the polls.A Pakistan has traditionally registered low voter turnouts.A Only 44 per cent of the electorate voted in the last general election in 2008. A total of 4,670 candidates are standing for parliamentary elections while nearly 11,000 are running for the four provincial assemblies. The vote is being watched closely by Washington since the US relies on the nuclear-armed country for help fighting Islamic militants and negotiating an end to the war in neighbouring Afghanistan. In the historic election, former cricket star Imran Khan, who has almost mythical status in Pakistan, has challenged the dominance of the country's two main political parties, making the outcome of the election very hard to call. He is facing off against the Pakistan Muslim League-N, headed by two-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan People's Party, led by President Asif Ali Zardari. But after five years of inflation, electricity blackouts and militant attacks, the PPP is expected to fare poorly in the vote. While Sharif has billed himself as the candidate of experience, Khan is trying to tap into the frustrations of millions of Pakistanis who want a change from the traditional politicians who have dominated Pakistani politics for years. As Pakistanis headed to the polls, there was a sense of excitement among an electorate aware of the historical significance of their vote and the risk they were taking. Over 100 people, including candidates, were killed in gun and bomb attacks by the Taliban and other militant groups during the campaign period. "Bombs or terrorist attacks must not stop voters from using their right of vote," said 70-year-old Humayon Qaiser. "People will have to decide what kind of Pakistan they want. If they vote for the wrong party, they will suffer for another five years."