Midterm elections have been held in many countries in the wake of some emerging and pressing socioeconomic scenarios but pros and cons have to be well evaluated in Pakistan’s particular milieu before entering into the arena of possible midterm elections.

The uproar about Midterm elections has been much against the backdrop of allegations of large scale riggings in the Elections 2013. These so called claims of flawed elections have not so far been judicially established. The judicial commission, proposed to be set up by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, has yet to inquire and give its verdict. Only in case of judicial findings of massive rigging, the question of midterm elections may arise. The Federal Government may then have to seriously consider holding of any midterm elections. However it is not understandable as to why the claimants of the so-called rigging allegations did not protest violently at the time of election results in 2013 and why they took oath of their offices upon notification by the Election Commission?

Nonetheless, the following major issues have to be resolved before midterm elections are planned in Pakistan.

Holding of new population census in Pakistan is imperative, which is already overdue. It is highly desirable to register new voters after the census. Elections without new census may deprive many new eligible voters. Likewise, overseas Pakistanis may also be included in the eligible voters list. These Pakistanis are contributing a lot to sustain the national economy.

Completion of the proposed Electoral Reforms and their enforcement through the Parliamentary Committee and the ECP is essential.

Implementation of the electoral reforms package which would, interalia, involve procurement of electronic voting machines. These machines would cost billions of rupees and lengthy procurement time period is required.

Training of necessary electoral manpower to handle the new electoral technologies is an essential requirement for successful election process conforming to global standards.

In absence of the above mentioned milestones on road to fair national elections, the midterm elections if held may be counterproductive and put the whole process back to square one, involving the allegations of massive rigging as being done presently. In fact, all the national elections held in the past in Pakistan have alleged to been rigged. The democratic process in Pakistan is, in fact, going through an evolutionary process. A major factor in election rigging has been absence of effective reforms and management system especially the nonuse of new technologies, and adequate training of electoral personnel. Biometric system is a new technology which is quite effective in establishing authenticity of a person’s identity. Learning this technology needs time and skill development. In a fair and transparent election process, a large number of personnel would need training. This is an essential milestone towards fair elections.

It is highly imperative to address the above mentioned hotspots in the next election process to usher in true democracy in Pakistan.

The Constitution of Pakistan provides room for the Local Governments to ensure maximum benefits of democratic process at the doorsteps of the people. Article 32 of the constitution states: “The State shall encourage local Governments institution composed of elected representation of the areas concerned”.

This provision needs to be implemented strictly to bring the benefits of democratic process for solution of their problems speedily. The developed countries ensure local governments establishment on sound lines. Such governments are very effective and help solve problems of their people very effectively and speedily. This does not give rise to growing frustration and despondency among the people in any society.

Midterm elections essentially involve an expenditure of billions of rupees. If use of modem technology is involved, the expenditure may swell further. Political uncertainty grips the national scenario which adversely affects foreign investment and domestic economic growth. A weak national economy like ours can ill-afford the luxury of uncalled for midterm elections.

The best course for political opposition in a democratic set up is to work for awareness of the masses and keep a sitting government on toes in a dignified way. Election campaigns should be launched when the scheduled term elections are geared up. Premature electioneering costs huge waste of money and time. This is the methodology followed by developed democracies like those of UK and USA. It is high time that we learn from their good experiences and examples.