ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Pakistan Elections - II

Democracy, Dichotomies and Shades of Grey

The recent elections in Pakistan show that the country is finally on the right track notwithstanding the rigging, the violence and the brutal prevention of women from voting in some areas by representatives of all the political parties. The huge turnout of women and first-time young voters risking their lives to exercise their right to franchise is something to celebrate and consolidate.

This article was earlier posted on the Web Exclusives section of EPW.

If there is one thing Pakistanis do whenever they are allowed to go to the polls and exercise their political will through general elections, it is to roundly reject religious extremism. The pattern was repeated this time too.

Only once did parties campaigning on a religious agenda receive over 7% of the votes polled, i e, around 11%. That was in the 2002 elections, when these parties united in the post 9/11 scenario involving heightened sympathy for the Taliban and their ideology following the American invasion of Afghanistan and when the top leaders of the mainstream political parties were in exile. In the next elections that followed in 2008, the religious parties bagged barely 3% of the votes. The latest elections once again reflected this pattern, with the religious parties garnering a total of about 5% of the votes.

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