Several commentators have emphasised that today’s elections are perhaps the most important in the history of Pakistan. While elections are always important — because they set the direction for the country — this election, the third consecutive one after two full terms is indeed epoch making. In fact, after the first general elections of 1970, this election might be the most critical for Pakistan’s trajectory. Therefore, it is incumbent upon everyone to vote today. Democracy can only work if the people take their vote seriously and cast it in an informed manner. In only two elections, 1970 and 2013, have we even crossed the 50 percent voting mark, and so we must endeavour to improve this percentage. A lot of people have underscored why this election is important, but let me highlight and emphasise another aspect which is often ignored. Elections are as much a local decision as they are a national or even global affair. Hence, one must not forget the constituency issues during the election and give them adequate weight age in deciding who to vote for. In some ways, an election in Pakistan is significant at the global level. Pakistan is a nuclear-armed country, with a large population — 64 percent of which is people under the age of 30 — and occupies a strategic location in South and Central Asia. Hence, who comes to power is of note to our neighbours and world powers. Our closest and most complicated relations are with China, the United States and India, and today’s elections will spell the approach towards those countries. Just as Trump’s election was not just a local US affair, Pakistan’s election will also show to the world the will of the Pakistani people and the direction they want the country to take. That said, this election is also not just about the big national leaders — be it Imran Khan, Shahbaz Sharif or Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. While they are the face of their parties and set its direction, it is the local Parliamentarian and provincial assembly which is tasked with delivery at the local level. One significant reason for slow democratic progress in Pakistan is the ignorance of the people of the local dimension of the election. A lot of development work is supposed to be carried out at the local level by the local representatives, but often people are unaware or unwilling to hold their local representatives accountable for their actions. The onus is passed on to the national or provincial leaders which ultimately leads to skewed development priorities and patchy work. Therefore, today please consider not just the party and the national leader but the local person who you will be voting for. Please assess if he or she is capable of delivering in your constituency, their track record, and their commitment. This is almost as essential as the choice of a national party and leader. Elections are as much a local decision as they are a national or even global affair. Hence, one must not forget the constituency issues during the election and give them adequate weightage in deciding who to vote for Consider the constituency I live in the old NA 126, the present NA 130. This constituency was won by Shafqat Mehmood, the lone Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate who won from a Lahore seat in 2013. He served a full five-year term, and was often seen in news shows and other forums. However, he has had a dismal record as the local MP. He never did any development work in the constituency, was never really present in it, and did not really care about the conditions of the constituents who elected him, overturning the long streak of PML-N victories. As the sole PTI member of the National Assembly from Lahore, he should have made concerted efforts to work hard in his area, so that due to his work others might vote for him again and his party in general. However, his utter disregard of his constituency clearly showed that he rode on the PTI wave and cared little about the area he was supposed to serve. (as an aside, I also Googled and checked if he has done something’s which I had missed, to no avail!). Compare Shafqat Mehmood and his approach towards the constituency with the election campaign of Jugnu Mohsin in PP-184 in suburban Okara. Standing as an independent, Ms Mohsin’s entire focus is the uplift of the people she aspires to serve. Hailing from the area, she has already worked on several development projects in the constituency, and her commitment to the area led her to not to seek the ticket of any major party, but stay close to her people as an independent candidate and work for their progress. Consider also the campaign of Dr Miftah Ismail for NA-244 in Karachi. Dr Ismail is running on the PML-N ticket, but his campaign focus is completely on the constituency he hopes to represent and in which he lives. His campaign, which led him door to door in his constituency (again seldom seen in Pakistan!), made him focus squarely on local development issues, while also speaking about the larger programme of the PML-N nationally. So this election, while you want your favourite national leader to become Prime Minister, do please consider who is actually running for your local national and provincial assembly seat, rather than just rubber stamping it according to the national leader you like. Only when each Parliament member becomes an exemplary local MP, will Pakistan’s democracy deliver. The writer teaches at IT University Lahore and is the author of A Princely Affair: The Accession and Integration of the Princely States of Pakistan, 1947-55. He tweets at @BangashYK Published in Daily Times, July 25th 2018.