I find it deeply saddening that in the run up to and during the General Election in Pakistan on 10th May 2013 that members of the electorate and those they were hoping to elect were killed or badly injured in attacks perpetrated to derail the democratic process taking place. Nevertheless, the general election went ahead resulting in Nawaz Sharif and his party securing an overall majority.
Despite the sadness I feel about the bloodshed resulting in at least 150 lives being lost I also retain a sense of hope and optimism for two reasons about the prospects for democracy in Pakistan. The first reason is that the new civilian government is only the second one to be freely elected in the country’s 60 year history. This must represent some sort of tipping point in the ongoing pursuit of democracy. The second reason is the level of electoral turnout. Some estimates put this as high as 80% but more realistically this has been downgraded to 60% since the weekend.
60% may not register as very high at first but it is greater than the turnout in the US Presidential Election of 2012 where 57.5% of the electorate voted. In Britain in the 2010 General Election the turnout was 65%. Neither of these elections were conducted under the disruptive threat of the bullet or bomb so to achieve a 60% turnout under those conditions in Pakistan is a credit to the electorate.