There is little political parties will not do in order to get more seats in the national and provincial assemblies. Grand speeches and rallies are a common element wherever an election is imminent, even if that entails a by-election for a contentious seat or two. Chiefs of political parties have often stepped in for their less popular faces, in a bid to get them elected. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) is no different; Imran Khan often involves himself in the fight for specific seats in by-elections in a bid to thwart ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PLM-N) wherever possible.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has attempted to put an end to this practice – as it should – by issuing a notification that bars the president, prime minister, ministers of state, governors, chief ministers, provincial ministers, advisers to the PM and all members of the National Assembly and provincial assemblies (MNAs and MPAs) from visiting constituencies to campaign or donating in constituencies during elections. But Imran Khan has challenged this notification in the Islamabad High Court, claiming it goes against his right of free assembly according to the Article 16 of the constitution.

Pakistan’s democratic system is flawed – as is the case in many other countries – in the most obvious of ways. Where in a perfect democratic system, the voter would be expected to make an informed choice when choosing a representative based on the issues they care most about, voting in Pakistan rarely transcends party loyalties, and the public chooses their representatives based on the electoral symbol or the chief of the party. Imran Khan’s actions tell us that he wants this status quo to remain in place, in order to get maximum mileage out of the Imran Khan brand.

If this state of affairs is allowed to continue, there will be no notion of informed choice, choosing the representative that can serve best or voting for issues instead of personalities. Imran Khan, Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif are only the faces of their party – there are representatives for each constituency that are directly responsible for the work carried out in the area. Not only that, but these parties have manifestos that are rarely consulted by the voters that support them. Unless the average voter can remove the overarching figurehead of the party chief when voting, party loyalties are likely to stay in place, and there will be no evolution in the voting process.