The fate of the 2013 elections till early this year was uncertain. The law and order situation in Balochistan, Karachi and KPK, the Lahore Badami Bagh inferno, threat of terrorism and failure of the law enforcement agencies had created an alarming situation suggestive of government’s imminent collapse.

It goes to the credit of the Supreme Court and the Election Commission of Pakistan which relentlessly pursued their constitutional role with the full support of the people with a view to holding the general elections on schedule. Without going into conspiracy theories that are making the rounds, the people, who believe in democratic process so that the roots of democracy are strengthened, seem to have won.

The caretaker Prime Minister and Chief Ministers are in place. The final selection has not been easy. Ultimately, rumour mongers dreaming of destabilising Pakistan by delaying caretakers decisions and then elections, were disappointed. There were tense moments till a senior journalist Najam Sethi was chosen as caretaker CM Punjab. For the first time a media person became a Chief Minister with the support of both the ruling party and the opposition. He very wisely said, “I have no friends and no foes.”

For the first time in Pakistan the electoral process has swung into motion in a peaceful and constitutional manner as a result. This is a remarkable achievement on which all the stakeholders and the nation deserve to be congratulated. This momentum must be maintained. Let me point to some recent indicators to prove that this nation can meet any challenge in a moment of crisis.

i    President Zardari ends dual

    office in compliance with LHC

    orders,

    affirming in a way the supremacy         of the constitution.

i    The Supreme Court orders

    punishment for obstructers of

    voting by overseas Pakistanis.

i    All caretakers meet in Islamabad         vowing commitment to fair, free             and transparent elections. They             warn bureaucracy against partiality.

i    Top level administrative changes.

i    ECP vows to jail fake voters and             disqualify those not meeting the

    constitutional requirements.

i    Caretakers admit their biggest challenge is to deal with terror and law

    and order situation.

i    Army’s roadmap for assistance during elections planned.

i    Election schedule announced and nomination papers filed at national level.

i    Directives of SC and ECP’s firm resolve to enforce the electoral code

    of conduct.

i    SC’s orders to eliminate no-go areas in Karachi by April 4.

While the nation has reasons to hope that the general elections will take place on schedule, there is lurking fear that unforeseen an unpredictable events may upset the election plan.

We are in a state of covert war in which internal and external forces are set to pursue their unholy agenda. The threat is, indeed, alarming. Hence, the need for extra-vigilance by all of us Pakistanis!

I close this column by warning the nation that it is passing through a defining period in history and, thus, we cannot afford to falter.

The writer is president of the Pakistan National Forum.  Email: ikramullahkhan1@yahoo.com