The unprecedented voters turnout of around 60 percent in the just concluded elections is significant from two aspects. Firstly, it indicates an unflinching faith of the people in democracy and secondly, it represents a strong snub for those who wanted to keep the masses away from the polling stations by creating an ambience of fear through their terrorist acts.

The fact that the transition of power through ballot has taken place in Pakistan is in itself a great achievement. It is rediscovering the path that will ultimately help us in translating our cherished dreams into reality and realise the objectives of independence. Now, one can look back with satisfaction and assurance that the digressions and hiccups, which the nation witnessed during the last 60 years, will not haunt us any more. That, indeed, is a triumph of democracy.

It is also gratifying to note that the UN and EU observers, Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) and monitors of the electoral process have acknowledged the commitment of the government and the people to democracy, and have not raised any doubts about the overall credibility of the elections, though irregularities, mismanagement and allegations of rigging were reported in some constituencies.

The FAFEN observers, who sampled  8,119 polling stations across the country, have reported more than 100 percent turnout in 49 polling stations,  which indicate some kind of foul play. However, considering the fact that there were 69,729 polling stations all over the country, such a small number does not in any way suggest an organised rigging on a massive scale. Such minor incidents of indiscretions by individual candidates, violence and politically-motivated murders and party workers carried away by emotions have always been part of the electoral process in Pakistan. Changing ways and mindsets requires time, patience and education. Nevertheless, the most redeeming factor was that no state institution tried to manipulate the May 11 election results and the people were facilitated in the exercise of their right to vote freely.

Conducting the elections in the prevailing circumstances, by itself, is a great achievement of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), government, army and other law enforcement agencies. The people have made their decision and it is a welcome development that the PPP, ANP and other political entities, except the new entrant PTI, have accepted the verdict of the people.

True that the results have been far below the expectations of PTI, but that does not provide any justification for it to throw a spanner in the works by alleging massive rigging in Punjab and Karachi. The captain could have done good to his reputation and credentials as a political leader in his own right and a harbinger of change, had he shown the traditional sportsman spirit. Indeed, the emergence of PTI as a potent political force is a very encouraging development and it must play a constructive role in changing the political culture of the country.

The ECP has already constituted 14 tribunals to deal with the complaints relating to the polls and if any party has a solid proof of the alleged irregularities, it should bring it to the notice of those tribunals. Not accepting the election results represents an affront to the political sagacity of the masses and no democratic entity should indulge in scuttling the mandate of the people.

The ECP must also look into reports of irregularities and rigging, particularly pertaining to Karachi, and take immediate remedial measures to settle them to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders. 

Whether one likes it or not, the reality is that PML-N has got the mandate and earned the right to form governments at the centre and in the Punjab. Similarly, PTI and PPP have emerged as predominant political forces in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Sindh, while the situation in Balochistan is not yet clear.

In view of the precarious security situation in the country and egregious economic conditions, it is imperative for all the political parties to respect each other’s mandate and join hands in steering the country out of the grave crisis it is in.

The PML-N being the winning party has to go an extra mile to bring about a uniformity of outlook by allowing the majority parties in the provinces to form governments, instead of indulging or encouraging splinter groups to form coalitions, as any such attempt will undermine national unity and push the country back to politics of confrontation and self-aggrandisement. That should be avoided at all costs.

Democracy is not merely the holding of elections; it is about evolving a system of governance that is based on social, economic and political justice, firmed up in conformity with the aspirations of the people and their continued participation in the process of decision making at the local, provincial and national levels. The prevalent political system has failed to deliver and the people have no faith in its continuation.

Apart from fighting the menace of terrorism and fixing the sagging economy, the political parties must use their collective wisdom to change the system, especially the way we elect our representatives. The single constituency system must be replaced with proportional representation system and it should be one of the topmost priority of all the political parties represented in the federal and provincial legislatures.

The writer is a freelance columnist.