Free and fair elections ought to be about competing on who has the best ideas and solutions to the miseries, coercion, backwardness, bigotries, anarchy and abuse that people face. The purpose of elections should be to promote a democratic way of life, to think and to act without fear and without undue pressure from any quarters. The ultimate aim should be to strengthen the federation of Pakistan. Political parties must, therefore, play their role according to the constitution and the established norms of politics. No political party should be allowed to work against the national and public interest. To ensure the upcoming elections are successful, all concerned parties, and especially the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP),must be prepared to meet the expectations people have from them. The ECP, moreover, can do this by ensuring a level playing field for all parties. The ECP has enough laws and powers at its disposal to ensure political parties undertake reforms, and it is now high time for the ECP to play its role in effectively carrying out the upcoming elections. The ECP will only satisfy the electorate and the contestants if it can ensure free and impartial elections. Ensuring free and fair elections, meanwhile, is a responsibility that rests jointly with the ECP, the government, concerned institutions, political parties and the candidates contesting elections. Political parties need to enforce a democratic internal character. The ECP has to regulate and control political parties under the present laws. It must also plug loopholes, if any, in the election rules. The ECP can make recourse to the caretaker prime minister’s commission of 2013 and his recommendations. The major challenge before the caretaker Prime Minister, the provincial caretakers, the chief election commissioner and the members of the staff is to ensure fair and transparent elections and to maintain discipline peace and law and order during the elections Is the ECP, and the state machinery, prepared to meet all the challenges that will rear their ugly heads close to the elections? We also need to determine the state’s future power structure since this will impact the quality of life, and the future of Pakistan. A nation that stops debating and rethinking leaves no space for others to express their views and opinions. This is a highly undemocratic approach and is not the way forward for the country. Illegal protests, disloyalty to the state and its organs, should not become the norm of our society. Accountability is necessary to ensure transparency, but it has to be according to due laws and processes. We must also not concede any space to coercive or militant elements. The right to vote will only be respected if the voter is respected. Thus, a culture of respect is a necessary prerequisite for a modern democratic state. In fact, the caretaker government’s top priority must be to ensure democracy is further strengthened. We must also aim to diminish the trust gap in order to reduce inter and intra political party tensions and to end the blame games. The caretaker Prime Minister has a significant responsibility in ensuring that the government delivers effectively and efficiently; especially at a time when sharp rivalries, suspicion and high tempers threaten to mar the electoral process. There should also be no space for misinformation and disinformation about the role of institutions, while positivity should be our collective agenda. The major challenge before the caretaker prime minister, the provincial caretakers, the chief election commissioner and members of staff is to ensure fair and transparent elections, and to maintain discipline, peace, and law and order during the elections. The caretaker prime minister will have achieved a significant accomplishment if he is successful in creating a level playing field for the upcoming elections, as per Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s vision. Pakistan needs unity in diversity and peace in an environment of illusions and confusions. Elections provide an opportunity to determine the line of action needed to meet the challenges confronting the nation. Merit must be the basis for all our decisions and actions. Electing the people’s representatives in a democracy is a task of great responsibility. Those elected must understand their responsibility in developing Pakistan. We must also undertake a momentous effort to build national character. This requires an emphasis on strengthening the education system which make will reforms possible. Although this is the long, drawn-out approach, educating our people is the only avenue that will lead to positive thinking in society. We also need to remove inequality, conflict, tensions, deceit and crime. We need to create conditions that lead to social justice, and we must develop better health, education, housing, employment, all the while fostering positive attitudes. The writer is a former Director, National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA), Government of Pakistan, a political analyst, a public policy expertand an author: His book ‘ Post 9//11 Pakistan’ was published in the United States Published in Daily Times, June 6th 2018.