DR A. H. KHAYAL Our democracy requires that in order to be a voter, a Pakistani must be 18 years of age. Eighteen is the lower age limit for voting eligibility. There is no upper age limit. Our democracy fancies that because of our peculiar climate, a Pakistani suddenly becomes politically mature on the last day of his 18th year. It is a sudden, volcanic maturity - not a gradual development. Till the last day of his 18th year, every Pakistani is a perfect political imbecile. And once his political capacity has suddenly burst into full bloom, it stays in full bloom till the last day of his earthly stay. This is the reason why we dont have an upper age limit for voting eligibility. Once a lover, always a lover. Once a voter, always a voter. We believe that age cannot impair a Pakistani voters political abilities. On the contrary, we hold that as a voters mental and physical powers decline with the advancing age, his voting sagacity goes on becoming more and more virile. A voter, because of his extremely advanced age, may have almost completely lost his five senses. But this physical and mental barrenness cannot disenfranchise him. For the voting purposes, a living fossil is regarded mathematically at par with a lush-green lad of 18. On the polling day, very many utterly age-dilapidated voters are carried on stretchers to the polling stations. Since they are physically and mentally unable to answer the polling officers queries, the queries are answered by the stretcher-carriers. What is your name, Sir, asks the polling officer. Since the voter has forgotten his name, the carriers answer the query on the voters behalf. The polling officer is convinced of the political fitness of the voter and issues him a ballot paper. But since the voter is physically unable to hold the ballot, the carriers get hold of it on his behalf. They search for the voters left thumb. They succeed in locating it. They daub the thumb with a little bit of ink. The ink-daubed thumb is brought in contact with the ballot paper. The ballot receives the thumb impression of the voter. The ballot becomes a legal document. It is cast into the ballot box by the stretcher-carriers on behalf of the voter. The democratic process is complete. What sort of performance should we reasonably expect from a government which is elected not by the voters whose physical and mental faculties are intact, but by the voters, whose physical and mental faculties have already been devoured by the advancing years? One must not be surprised if all our past democratic regimes have been utter fiascos. A Roman Catholic marriage is an indestructible marriage. Likewise, a voting marriage is an indestructible marriage. Only death can part the Catholic spouses. Likewise, only death can part our voter and his ballot spouse. Unfortunately, the Catholics have failed to make a Catholic marriage, which lasts beyond the grave. But we can do so. We can kill death. A vote is the voters inalienable property. Why not make this property transferable like ordinary property? The voter must be given the right to bequeath his voting right to anyone of his liking. If the voter happened to be a believer in the ethical doctrine of returning good for good, it is hoped that he would bequeath his voting property to one of the stretcher-carriers. If a voter dies intestate, the voting-property should automatically become the property of the eldest son of the deceased. The widow must have no share in the property. This would force her to remarry. And she could turn out to be a bonanza for a desperately marriage-needy widower. A widower desperately looking for a wife and not getting one is a very dangerous creature. Thus, through our democracy, we could defuse the simmering potential violence of our wife-hunting widowers. If a voter dies issueless, his voting property should escheat to the government. The government should donate it to the Auqaf Department. The Auqaf Department should publicly auction it to the highest-bidding election candidate. The money thus obtained should be spent for the development of the political institutions in the country. An election fray is a very expensive venture. A candidate has to stake millions of rupees on a single assembly seat. In order to be a candidate for an assembly seat, one must have: Millions of rupees to gamble with and a passion for gambling. Those who lack the two virtues are absolutely ineligible for the election bouts. Now only a handful of Pakistanis are endowed with the requisite financial resources and the requisite gambling flair. Contesting elections is their exclusive preserve. The vast majority of the Pakistanis are automatically debarred from the election fights. Are fair, impartial and free elections morally possible in a country where only fabulously rich gamblers are eligible for contesting elections? The writer is an academic.