2013 elections will mark a major milestone in the history of the electoral college of Pakistan, as 2008 general election led to formation of a coalition government that fought tough and hard against the destabilizing forces to complete its five years tenure. Although, electioneering process is reforming everyday passing by in this country, however, there was much that civil society, election commission and other related research and policy institutions could have done collectively to bring a relatively enabling and competitive environment this time around; that as many think, didn’t happen. Election this year too is likely to give birth to an electoral college elected on the basis of ethnicity, sectarian and other affiliations and less on the basis of merit, past performance and political manifestos. Not 100% citizens of this country hold CNICs, a legal document that is mandatorily required to become an eligible voter, and more so in the rural areas where CNIC is not possessed by many men and almost over 45% of women. Masses in rural areas forming over 75% population of the country are poorly aware of the power of their vote. Their votes are exploited by the local landlords and mafia groups by using them in whosoever’s favour they wish to. So giving this background information is to enable a broader understanding of the context in which general elections of 2013 are likely to be held in Pakistan this month.
There was much that civil society organizations and activists could have done even 1 year to 6 months ago in order to enable majority of the women in rural areas in obtaining their CNICs hence enabling them to exercise their right to vote. Secondly, awareness creation among masses regarding the power of their vote still remains to be a major void hence an untapped area. Thirdly, strengthening the policy environment around electoral processes to encourage honest leadership to step forward to contest elections and ensure implementation of free, fair and informed elections was another demanding area which got least of attention.
In the given situation now, as elections are fast approaching, civil society may consider arranging trainings for organizations and individuals planning to monitor and report back their findings from polling stations across the country. Another area that may be potentially considered for tapping into, is setting up of media centers to collate information from various regions and disseminate it to a wider audience. Third option could be producing a fact file, a document containing factual data regarding mismanagement and delinquencies at the polling stations.