*Originally posted on Express Tribune Blog, posting the whole version here.
So the people of Pakistan have finally spoken!
And their votes have surged the PML-N to power once again.
PML-N’s supporters and voters are immeasurably elated, they may not have been as expressive in declarations of their support but they certainly have been expressive and assertive of their support through the ballot box.
I voted for PML-N because I felt it satisfactorily addressed the list of pressing matters that I personally prioritize for Pakistan:
1. The acute civil-military imbalance that characterizes Pakistan’s power disequilibrium is an issue that I view to be not only pressing but whose offshoots are several other troubles in the country. It demands a rectification, and the PML-N has shown the clearest stance in this regard: upholding the rule of civilians; respect for the mandate of elected-representatives; autonomy from the military establishment, its ventures, adventures, forays into the political and policy-making arena. Picking and sticking to such a stance, in my opinion, is the first right step in the direction of its redressing.
2. Their economic and infrastructural focus has always been palpable, and their track record is a testament to that.
From the M2, setting up of NADRA, dams and power plants, PML-N has delivered in the past in the little time they were given in contrast to their mandate of a total of 10 years in separate stints at the federal government. The Metro Bus system has also been a noteworthy project that can not be denied as not having benefited countless people, regardless of other criticism.
3. It has proven its seriousness towards education. Apart from establishing the outstanding Danish Schools, the Punjab Government’s effective implementation of education reforms all over Punjab, although criminally underreported in Pakistan, yielded remarkable results.
4. A specific characteristic that struck me about the party, had been its sense of political maturity and responsibility. I believe the PML-N displayed judiciousness by allowing the last government to complete its term and not bestowing a crown of political martyrdom and victim hood on its head.
If the PML-N’s role is seen in this regard and context, then it also gets the credit for contributing to the milestone of the first term completion of a democratically-elected government in Pakistan and thus, facilitating the transfer of power from one democratically-elected government to another which these elections were.
In its continuous display of political sagacity, the PML-N also brought together all opposition parties against the “circus” that Tahir-ul-Qadri put up in Islamabad; a reiteration of the party’s pledge to stand by democratic principles.
PML-N’s leaders also did not reciprocate the mudslinging and potshot-taking initiated by Imran Khan.
5. It is a party that has acknowledged its mistakes regarding Balochistan in the past and is making efforts to rectify those; it has reached out to Baloch leaders and called upon them to contest in the elections.
6. One can gauge the interest and dedication of the party for cultural revival by the initiation of projects for the restoration of famous cultural and historical sites and places in Punjab, particularly in Lahore, that many citizens are well-aware of. The beautification of the provincial capital and the opening of the New Lahore Food Street only add more weight to this measure.
7. From Sartaj Aziz, Ishaq Dar, Khawaja Asif to Ahsan Iqbal, PML-N hosts a competent and capable team of veterans that will certainly assist in the implementation of its vision.
8. Lastly, the PML-N is an alternative for me to PPP and PTI, parties that I do not support for a number of reasons.
I was and am conscious and critical of PML-N’s flaws and wrongs, and know that the party I chose for these elections may not be the best. I also know that the aforementioned points I have penned as my reasons to support it may even be or are found in other party’s stances, manifestos and works but the collective existence of all of these in a single party, constituted a reason enough for me to cast my vote for them.
Now that they have been elected as the government, PML-N will understandably under the pressure of its mandate to fulfill its duties and expectations of the nation. It is required that they actualize the roadmap they presented in their manifesto: from economic revival and growth, curbing of terrorism and maintenance of law and order in the country especially in areas where the government’s writ has been blown into smithereens and that are routinely aflame; dealing with the energy crisis; reintegration of FATA into the political and national mainstream; the country-wide implementation of their education reforms of Punjab to promises such as the depoliticizing of sports boards.
PML-N can also rid the influence of the undemocratic forces in Pakistan by assertive democratization of the country which can largely be established through good governance.
Keeping aside the emergence of rigging allegations and controversies surrounding the elections for a moment, there is little doubt that these elections have been a historic one for Pakistan. Being the first transfer of power from one civilian democratically-elected government to another with the highest voter turnout to date; they have been more a victory for democracy than any party in the country.
The single sentiment that has simultaneously surged with the results of the elections has been of hopefulness.
Even if the PML-N was not the pick of a segments of some people, these elections and this government are hoped to be the opening of a new chapter in Pakistan’s tumultuous journey that sees the beginning of every Pakistani basically wants: a better, prosperous and progressive Pakistan.
~ Hafsa Khawaja