LAHORE - Holding of free and peaceful local government elections in the insurgency-infested Balochistan is a landmark achievement by the Election Commission of Pakistan, law-enforcing agencies and political leadership.

Political pundits and security experts say that though the challenges were serious and extraordinary and the atmosphere appeared unfavourable, Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik decided to hold local government polls in the province in accordance with the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The entire process of elections at grassroots level in Balochistan remained peaceful and violence-free. This has also sent a strong message to the disgruntled and anti-state elements, playing in the hands of foreign agencies, that people of Balochistan have voted against militancy, terrorism, and separatism, they said.

The credit, for peaceful polls, goes to the Balochistan CM whose firm resolve, strategic vision, political acumen and sense of commitment made it all possible. “Dr Malik has set a credible precedent for the other CMs to follow by holding local government polls in their respective provinces,” says Brig (r) Farooq Hameed Khan, a renowned Lahore-based political analyst, while talking to The Nation on Friday.

There were speculations that law and order situation, terrorism and coercive threats of separatists in Balochistan would not make it possible to organise mass-scale activities like LG polls. But Dr Abdul Malik and his political team proved that such speculations were wrong by showing to the world that the province was not a hopeless case, he added.

Political pundit and leading lawyer, Dr Mohsin Ranjha, said Balochistan CM Dr Abdul Malik took a commendable decision to demonstrate that if political leadership was sincere to solve the problems faced by the masses, no hazard could have a negative impact on its performance. Over 4,000 seats have been filled by successful candidates in Balochistan and the remaining a few hundred seats would also be filled in due course.

According to former Punjab IGP Habib-ur-Rehman, the people of Balochistan, under the dynamic leadership of Dr Malik, were following the true spirit of democracy and no external interference or internal disorder could hamper his political will to complete the political process. The political will in Balochistan has prevailed and LG polls have been successfully held despite serious concerns expressed by the distracters.

The other three provinces must also emulate Balochistan in holding LG elections as per the already agreed schedule and orders of the Supreme Court otherwise they will face the risk of committing contempt of court besides damaging the democratic norms.

Balochistan has proved that it follows the democratic norms in true spirit and also holds the Supreme Court in high esteem by obeying its orders. Will other provinces follow the suit? Surely, they will learn from Dr Abdul Malik who has become a political role model for others.