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In Pakistan experts often regret that 'undesirable' persons reach assemblies and senate, but hardly bother to find out the reasons for the pathetic state. This becomes easy to understand when one reads the contents of a booklet jointly prepared by National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
According to the booklet, Pakistan stands at 164th in terms of voters' turnout among the 169 counties that have had democratic elections over the past 50 years. Pakistan with its average turnout of 45 per cent was only better than the countries like Egypt (45.1 per cent) and Ivory Coast (37 per cent). With 21.3 per cent turnout, Mali was placed lowest on the list.
While in many countries the average turnout is around 60 per cent, the highest is in Australia with turnout around 95 per cent. In Australia the turnout is exceptionally high because it is one of the first countries that have adopted compulsory voting.
According to the ECP, voting in Pakistan has never been a compulsion, a fact that has been a major reason for the poor turnout. While there are many factors ranging from security concerns to sociological issues, apathy should be termed the prime factors. Voters just don't bother to cast their vote and prefer to stay at home or go for picnic on the Election Day.
In various discussions it has been said that since those contesting election are not 'eligible' there is no need to cast the vote. These people even don't believe in 'selecting the lesser evil'. Many political parties, which place themselves on the highest pedestal can't find the appropriate contestants and often keep the distribution of tickets 'all within the family'.
It is also alleged that 'angles fill the ballot boxes' but no one accepts the fact that if he/she does not go to the polling station to cast the vote, an opportunity is provided to unscrupulous elements to fill the ballot box. This practice is not confined to a few specific constituencies but is a norm in rural areas, where cults and clans influence the voting and often an ordinary person is kept away from going to polling stations.
Some critics say that the situation would have been different had democracy was allowed to prosper in the India. They also refer to the situation in India where elections have been held with regular intervals and at times prematurely due to people expressing 'no confidence' in the existing set up.
As against this, Pakistan has remained under the martial law for over thirty years. If one tries to find the reasons for this, only politicians could be held responsible for this dismal state. It is often said that the last elected government, was the first ever government to complete its term.
Mian Nazaw Sharif very proudly says that this became possible only because of unconditional support of his party to the incumbent government. However, he has been accusing the government of worst corruption. One completely fails to understand his logic; if the government was corrupt his party should have moved 'non-confidence motion' in the national assembly and also impeached the president. May be, he didn't want an early election to save the rule of his brother in Punjab, Pakistan's largest province in terms of population.