Pakistan is a country that is at odds with all comprehensible standards of a promising future, and yet, we have braved the gravest of calamities; whether environmental, security-based, or political in nature, we have persevered. But every achieved target and solved issue has always led to more complexities, rather than reducing the problems. Pakistan is a nation of people that are always conflicted. We never understood the importance of being united, and have learned nothing from our disfigured history. However, despite the odds we somehow managed to elect the first female prime minister — and were the first Islamic country to do so as well. We have produced intellectuals like Dr Abdus Salam and Arfa Siddiqui, and we are also the first Islamic country to become a nuclear power — a feat achieved under the most strenuous of circumstances. On the flip side, we are also the country that discredited Abdus Salam because of his religious, a matter that should have been nothing more than his personal preference. We also lynched our own future in the shape of men like Mashal Khan. We are the same country that gave birth to people like Shah Hussain, and Imran Ali, the culprit from the Zainab case. All these factors consolidate the fact that we, as a nation, have the potential of reaching unimaginable heights but our ephemeral and obsolete differences have made it impossible to do so. The prime reason of our division is that we never decided which governance system suits us best. Therefore, the past seven decades have been an unending struggle between several power groups and institutions to commandeer the power mantle of Pakistan. Out of this fiasco for power, two main factions emerged: democratic and non-democratic sides. In Pakistan, democracy is countered by autocracy/dictatorship. Pakistan has seen four military regimes and seven political eras. Both factions have completely different ideologies but surprisingly both claim to have paved the path for democracy and improved its prospects in Pakistan. The common man, however, has been left exhausted in this ping-pong of power between two ideologies. The average Pakistani has been let down and failed by both systems. The inability of governments to stay true to their words and deliver their promises has resulted in a trust deficit and sense of insecurity, which is not only evident between the public and the government but is also starkly visible in our daily lives. A vote is the ultimate tool of change in the modern world and should be a matter of great importance to each and every Pakistani, unfortunately, reality is total different. The heartbreaking performance of our governments has left a deeply negative impact on a voter’s psychology. Therefore, the voter turnout has been in an abysmal state since the first general elections of 1970. The elections of 1970 saw a massive outpour of people from both wings of Pakistan to vote for their parties, with a voter turnout of 64 per cent. However, the elections resulted in a disaster. The 1977 elections were smeared with political uncertainties and opened the way for a military takeover, which initiated a decade long darkness under the usurper Ziaul Haq. And the voter turnout remained stagnant at 62 per cent. The end of Zia’s rule in 1988 gave way to Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), but the voter turnout plummeted to 42 per cent. Benazir’s government was unable to complete its term amidst allegations of corruption. She was replaced by the political underdog of non-democratic forces: Islami Jamhuri Ittehad (later Muslim League-Nawaz). Only 46 per cent came out to vote, the subsequent PPP government could not generate a rousing public response with a 39 per cent turnout. After PPP’s second term, Nawaz Sharif again made the government in 1997 but the public outcome had fallen to its lowest at 35 per cent. The mistrust between Nawaz and his military leadership resulted in a military coup d’etat and General Pervez Musharraf ruled for eight years. The power of the vote is usually correlated with educational competence, but the right to vote is equal between an educated and an uneducated person, because they are both living within the same state and are contributing towards its betterment Later, the return of Benazir Bhutto in 2007, and her assassination in the same year, injected the public with a new hope and the people again stepped out of their comfort zones to be a part of the promised change. Around 44 per cent people came out to vote in the 2008 elections. The first smooth political transition of power in 2013 did not generate a commendable public voter response, a mere increase of nine per cent with the number reaching 53 per cent in total. The juggling of governance authority and zero deliverance on important matters has brought the public to the edge of compromise. The Human Development Report of 2017-18 shows that the development index of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lies between 0.7-0.8 and 0.4-0.6, whereas, majority areas of Sindh and Balochistan struggled to achieve even an average score. The power of the vote is usually correlated with educational competence, but the right to vote is equal between an educated and an uneducated person, because they are both living within the same state and are contributing to the betterment of the state in one way or another. The economic, political, physical, social, and geopolitical circumstances have changed since our independence of 1947. The population has seen an uncontrollable increase and the demands of a common person have increased manifold. Political intelligence is achieved by a society when all of its demands are met. But the political parties of our country want to get the vote by doing none of the work. The manifestos of our current political parties theoretically give importance to a common man but practically they hardly scratch the surface of solving or providing these basic facilities. Therefore, if any political party wants to bag a staggering victory and set a milestone in Pakistan’s history, it must step out of its comfort zone and try to practically engage with the people. Rather than maintaining social differences for five years and showing up in their constituencies only for election campaigning, the political parties need to work more rigorously to improve and restore their stained image in the public’s eye. Because, no doubt, the undemocratic forces have curtailed the process of democratically learned insight development (which is a slow process already) but the performance of political bodies during this long fought struggle has been shameful, except for a few notable names which are also dissolving under the overwhelming pressure of nepotism and rotten systematic corruption. The writer is studying public administration at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, July 1st 2018.