I am writing these lines immediately after casting my ballot in favor of a corruption-free and educated Pakistan where rule of law prevails and dreams come true.
Unlike my daily routine, I woke up way early today (May 11), at 8:30 AM, to perform my national responsibility – to participate in the country’s historic ballot exercise.
As we – me, my better half and my daughter – prepared to head out at around 9:00 AM, I was in no doubt that we would be the first to knock at the doors of the polling station located at a walking distance from our residence in Gulistan-e-Jauhar. But, what I saw filled me with both surprise and a sense of overwhelming gratification. Hundreds of electorate including male and female voters of all ages, some with their kids, waited right under the scorching sun in separate queues that stretched out in great lengths for their turn to fulfill their national obligation.
Seeing this, a wave of thrill and excitement ran through me because it reinforced my belief that people of Pakistan are not complacent with how the country’s affairs are being run. They have had enough and now they want change.
I overheard two middle-aged men waiting behind me in the queue, saying they felt compelled to come out of their houses because of the repeated and convincing calls of the media. Being associated with press and media myself, it felt like sugar and honey to my ears. If nothing else, the media and judiciary has at least sensitized the citizens of Pakistan that in fact it is them who are the actual agents of change.
According to the Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan, Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, if 60 percent voters come out today, the fate of Pakistan will change. I believe at least 50 percent voter turnout will be achieved if not more by the end of the polling across the country.
Regrettably, the way the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) made arrangements for holding polls in most of the constituencies in Karachi – the biggest city of Pakistan – could simply be termed as pathetic.
Polling staff mysteriously remained missing at a number of polling stations across Karachi and as a result polling could not be started even after a lapse of 5 hours since the scheduled time, 8:00 AM.
Reports poured in from different parts of the metropolis of polling staff’s harassment, hijacking/snatching of ballot papers and other material and massive rigging that forced Jamat-e-Islami (JI) to announce a total boycott of the ballot exercise in Karachi and two-seats in Hyderabad.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf demanded re-election across the metropolis while a few complaints also came from Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
The situation has put a huge question mark on the credibility of polls conducted across Karachi – the commercial hub of Pakistan.
Mazhar Bughio can be followed on Twitter @mazharbughio