This time, it’s different; different in so many ways, and all positive. For one, this time, I am going to vote. And so are so many others, who have never felt the need to be a part of this process before. And all credit goes to Khan. Not only has he been able bring out his own supporters in large numbers, he has also forced those in favor of other parties to take the elections seriously, if only to avoid the arrival of the metaphorical Tsunami. Whatever the background, it is heartening to see that we are on our way to becoming a true democracy.
But before we start congratulating ourselves, let’s not forget that we are on our way. We are not there yet. And the first milestone on that path is tomorrow. I would just like to make a few suggestions on the eve of elections. Here is my wish-list.
1. I hope that every single voter in Pakistan gets out to cast his/her vote. We have been idle and indifferent for too long. We need to prove that we are a responsible nation and have learnt our lessons. The silly ideas that a single person’s vote doesn’t matter is a thing of the past now. Single persons make a nation and every one of them counts.
2. As a truly civilized nation, we also have to exhibit tolerance. We are free to vote for whoever we believe is the best for our country. But so is every other voter. No one is perfect and the capacity to endure difference of opinion is the most fundamental quality of a dignified and mature nation.
3. Each one of us has to feel personally responsible to ensure that the voting process is peaceful. That is the biggest test. We have to respect each other and stay calm and composed under all circumstances. Any violence or even misbehavior on anyone’s part can destroy the whole process.
4. When the results start coming in, we must face them properly. If our party or candidate is beaten, accept it with an open heart. And if our party or candidate wins, realize that it is the beginning of an even greater responsibility. No whining and no gloating.
5. Most importantly, let’s not treat the elections like we treat Ramazan. We are all pious and nice for a month, the mosques are filled, but as soon as Ramazan is over, we revert to our ways and wait for the next Ramazan. We must realize that in a democratic nation, the people are the government and we have to keep a check on our representatives for the next five years.
6. Lastly, we must ensure that the democratic process keeps moving. Let’s support whoever comes to power in everything good they do, and criticize whatever bad policies they come up with. But let’s promise never to wish or work for a quick fall of the government.
Good Luck! And may our nation keep moving forward and never look back.