A plethora of issues and uncertainties surrounding general elections in Pakistan are making rounds. And few individuals are predicting a delay in the elections due to varying reasons. However, the fact remains, elections are the only way forward to strengthen the democratic norms, institutionalism, and administration of justice in the country. As the saying goes, ills of the democracy must be treated with more democracy. The establishment of popular democracy in intervals has already caused irreparable loss to the evolution of a well-grounded system in Pakistan. In past 70 years, it has been “one step forward, two steps back” in Pakistan. The dismissal of Khawaja Nazim-ud-Din’s government in 1953 and dissolution of the first constituent assembly by Governor General Ghulam Muhammad in 1954 delayed general elections for nearly 17 years. In between, chief martial law administrator Ayub Khan came up with his own unprecedented version of guided democracy. Again, in 1978, the democratic process was halted by the champion of Islamisation, Zia-ul-Haq, for 11 years. And later,once more, the nascent and fragile democratic process was interrupted by a more modern and enlightened military dictator in 1998,who remained unquestionable and absolute sovereign for the next ten years. Interestingly but unfortunately, military dictators like Ayub Khan and Zia-ul-Haq sloganised the establishment of political system while rupturing the very basis of systemic development through banning participation of political parties in the process. The most disastrous impact of martial laws has been the erosion of politics of ideas. In the past, parties’ compositions were based on ideological affiliations with either right-wing or left-wing politics. Now that division is diluted from national politics. This disruption of democratic process gradually heightened the sentiments of provincialism, ethnocentrism, and bradarism, as personalities became superior to the ideologies. Joseph Schumpeter, the author of Capitalism, socialism and democracy, argued that “democracy only means that people have an opportunity of accepting or refusing men who are to rule them.” The continuity of democratic system in past ten years and successful transition of two consecutive elected governments offer new opportunities to the people of Pakistan. The path to consolidation of democracy has given new impetus to systemic development. The resilient nations always rise out of the ashes and capitalise on the opportunities offered by new environments.The process kicked off in 2007 — how much delicate and plagued it may be — should continue at all possible costs. The establishment of popular democracy in intervals has already caused irreparable loss to the evolution of a well-grounded system in Pakistan. In past 70 years, it has been “one step forward, two steps back”. Elections are the only way forward to strengthen the democratic norms, institutionalism, and administration of justice in the country. As the saying goes, ills of democracy must be treated with more democracy. Disagreement is a quintessential feature of the democratic process. The entire philosophy of politics inextricably revolves around conflict and cooperation among the inhabitants of any given society. The existence of rival opinions proves paramount for nourishment and nurturing of democracy. The current hue and cry and prophecies of “declinism and destabilisation”in the country are part of the process. This is an inherent feature of open societies that people compete and contest even over trivial issues, which ultimately lead to refinement and betterment of the system. Out of seven “procedural minimal conditionalities” for flourished democracy given by eminent political scientist Robert Dahl, the electoral process is ranked on top. If it wants to thrive as a stable state, Pakistan is left with no option but to elect public representatives through the uninterrupted electoral process. In principle, the concept of democratisation depends on the fact that elites and common masses of any country wholeheartedly consider democracy the only available game in the town. However, this is not the case with Pakistan as yet. Many opportunists are looking for back channels to reach the power corridors. In order to detect, eliminate, and make them worthless, the functionality of the electoral process is imperative. The concrete process of public representation in governmental affairs is intrinsically connected with electoral exercise. The genuine accountability is the hallmark of democracy. In fact, democracy without constitution-mandated accountability is a façade. To make the chosen representative genuinely accountable, continuity of the process is of paramount significance. Edmund Burke, an eminent scholar of 18th century, argued that the representation of people should be made with mature judgment and enlightened conscience. The enlightened conscience can only be sent in the parliament if electoral process is made more inclusive and participatory. All political parties, media houses, educationists and members of civil society should disseminate the message and encourage a maximum number of voters to participate in upcoming elections. In the past, a negligible number of voting members have been using their right efficiently and regularly. Now, young voters are going to make the difference provided that they come out to the polling booths on election day. Lastly, as a nation, we should make a promise to get rid of engineered and managed elections in 2018.This may ultimately lead to much-needed pluralism and federalism in the country. The writer is an Islamabad-based attorney at law, teaching constitutional law and principles of political science at Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU). He can be reached at email@example.com Published in Daily Times, June 28th 2018.