It is just past 8pm in Pakistan on July 25, 2018. Today Pakistan has had its third consecutive election after the completion of two full parliamentary terms. The simple fact that this election was able to take place is a feat in itself. Just over a month ago, several commentators were not sure that the July 25 election would even happen. The fact that this day actually came and passed is a critical marker in the history of Pakistan. Herein is a small victory for democracy in the country. A heinous attack did take place in Quetta and there was a cracker attack in Larkana, but outside of these two incidents, there were no major untoward incidents. In South Asia, elections are usually rife with violence. Every election cycle in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, scores of people die in election related clashes. That in Pakistan the major attack was claimed by the Islamic State, at least shows a little bit of democratic maturity developing in how people are beginning to see the negative effects of local violent conflicts. This again is a small victory for democracy in the country. Votes are still being counted, and barely 2-5 percent of polling station results have been declared unofficially, but the reality that the presumed ‘King’s party’ is not easily wining, is interesting. In the past, parties which have been supported like this have easily won, but today it does not seem that is a cake walk. The mere fact that this is a closely fought election shows that it is increasingly becoming hard for people to be easily manipulated. Slowly but surely, especially as we have now begun to have regular elections, the power of the vote is seeping into the psyche of the people. Yes there is still a long road ahead, but the journey has now certainly begun. This again is a small victory for democracy in the country. And now to the other side. While final figures have not come in, it is being reported that about 53 percent of the Punjab came out to vote. This is certainly larger in absolute terms when compared to 2013, but nearly 10 percent less than the earlier percentage in the Punjab. The figures for the rest of Pakistan are still to come in. The decline in the voting percentage is certainly a disappointment. It was expected that with regular elections, the voting percentage will slowly increase. However, it seems that the percentage will significantly fall, rather than hold, let alone rise. This factor exhibits that there are critical reasons behind much of the voting population staying at home. These reasons need to be investigated by both academics and parties in the post-election period as disillusionment with the democratic process will not bode well for the system in Pakistan. Despite the five year gap, huge investment in technology and infrastructure, and other changes, the number of complaints have only increased. Until now, the NADRA created tech system hasn’t really worked From the current election result trends, it is also becoming apparent that there is no discernable vote on the basis of development or delivery. All the three incumbent parties in the Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa are seemingly doing well. Therefore it seems that regardless of the criticisms of governance in all three provinces (relative to the province of course), there is no discernable reaction from the people. Anti-incumbency, which is a major source of electoral change in the world and especially South Asia has not taken any hold in Pakistan it seems. This could be a small setback for our democracy. Finally, it seems that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has still not been able to get its act together. Despite the five year gap, huge investment in technology and infrastructure, and other changes, the number of complaints have only increased. Until now, the NADRA created tech system hasn’t really worked. Several constituencies reported a very slow voting process, and in a number of areas there was confusion within the polling station itself. Unless the ECP improves its functioning, creates concrete plans and tests them thoroughly, Pakistan will never have an uncontested and free and fair elections. Of course there are always some lapses and complaints, yet it seems that most of the problems this time could have been prevented if the ECP were more proactive in its organisation. Votes are still being counted, and this will certainly be a long night. But I hope the final victor is democracy in Pakistan. We are now firmly set on this road, let nothing thwart our progress on it. 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 26th 2018.