Those who sit in comfortable chairs, with the best recliners to relax, in the splendid offices and also those who live in cozy and comfortable rooms in the Federal Capital Islamabad they do not feel the pulse of the people of Pakistan.

Last week during the Local Government elections on November 30, I have had the opportunity to contact countless people from all walks of life in both in the urban and rural areas of the Islamabad Capital Territory, and concluded that a vast majority of people lack trust in the electoral system.

So much so the teachers and other officers/officials who nominated from different federal organizations or replaced at the eleventh hour, most of them without a proper electoral training and orientation, they all evinced inevitably a deep lack of trust in the electoral process.

Painfully, still we use the most primitive electoral system, including voting system, nomination of untrained and unwilling officers as Presiding Officers, Assistant Presiding Officers, among others, setting up polling stations at insecure private and official buildings such as schools, community centers, many of these deprived of all basic civic amenities even wash rooms/ toilets, no drinking water facility- use paper ballots, physically carry electoral material and count by hand, physically transporting results, etc.

Nothing fair, both in remuneration and facilitation, is done with those who are nominated to conduct the polls at various polling stations. They are treated as children of lesser god by all concerned. Political workers and at some places goons and gundas of political misbehave with the election conducting staff. At some places, they rough up them in the polling station and harbor hostility and animosity against them and remain on the look out to harm them in the public.

On the basis of my personal experience, I can say that yet we have to go a long way to ensure free, fair and transparent elections in the country. Elections, be it Local Government, National or By-polls, will work only if people of Pakistan trust in the process and supervising authority, only then, democracy will become the fate of this country. Otherwise, whatever is happening is absolute wastage of resources and promotion of polarization in this country. However, electoral justice demands that the Election Commission (ECP) may be equipped with more and more muscle power, manpower, and money to attain the lofty dream of free, fair and transparent elections in Pakistan. Above all, people with the desired bent of mind, not clock watchers and grade gaudy and promotion –passionate, but missionary.

HASHIM ABRO,

Islamabad, December 4.