Over 105.9 million Pakistani voters, including 59.2 million men and 46.7 million women, have elected their candidates for the National Assembly and provincial assemblies. Everyone who contests elections is ultimately a winner or loser. Obviously, there can only be one winner amongst contesting candidates. However, it is the people’s mandate to choose whom they wish — if a candidate has lost, they need to accept the electorate’s verdict and their own defeat. Otherwise, there will be no difference between them and extremists impose their will on people. Don’t build conspiracy theories or indulge in allegations of rigging to rationalise your opponent’s success. And never indulge in anti-poll campaigns as anti-democracy forces would surely benefit from it.We have something to learn from the West in this regard. Candidates there indulge in scathing, though not depraved, criticism of their opponents but once elections are held, the loser readily accepts defeat and congratulates the winner. And if you or your party have won, ask your supporters to celebrate but within the limits of law and morality. Be patient, caring and unselfish. Bury the hatchet. Invite or better visit all your fellow contestants together. Ask them to guide and help you in serving the masses. Take their feedback as to what would have been the most important and urgent items on their agenda had they won. Keep in touch with them. This will help you better serve your constituency.There are leaders who say if their party isn’t voted to power, democracy and the country will suffer enormously. What does this mean in practical terms? Elect us or you would be strengthening those who are against democracy? Can a democratic leader talk this way?With the ECP becoming independent, the print/electronic media highly active and vigilant, voters lists cleared of bogus votes, elaborate arrangements made for conducting free and transparent elections, rigging has been made impossible. We have had enough of selective morality. Win, yes. Defeat, no. Pakistan was dismembered mainly for the fact that Sheikh Mujeeb-ur-Rehman-led Awami League, the winner of the 1970 election, was not allowed to form government as per the mandate given to it.Similarly, in 1977, the military took over as the opposition agitated against the alleged rigging in elections.The period between 1988 to1999 was characteristic of an acute political polarisation between the major parties with Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto alternatively siding with the establishment against the other. Between 1988 and 1999, five governments were sworn in instead of two.Going by the principles of popular sovereignty and representative democracy, no one can justify the shenanigans of religious and political leadership during these years. Some religious figures unabashedly played in cohort with establishment.Despite its nascent status in Pakistan, democracy is arguably the only system that can ensure representation, governance and accountability. It affords the people an opportunity to punish those in power if they fail to deliver. It prioritises the safety, welfare and empowerment of the masses and thus cannot be discredited by such ‘democratic leaders’Routed by the people in 1993, a religious leader didn’t accept the people’s verdict against his wishes and continued his famous sit-ins and ‘million marches’ until the elected government of Benazir Bhutto was dislodged. Then he boycotted the next polls for he wanted elections to be preceded by accountability.He didn’t own up these results either because he wanted something else.After the 2013 general elections, similar accusations of rigging were also made by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan. He indulged in dharnas and continuously spoke ill of the Parliament. He, however, couldn’t substantiate his allegations later in the judicial commission.There are leaders who say if their party isn’t voted to power, democracy and country will suffer enormously. What does this practically mean? Elect us or you would be strengthening those who are against democracy? Can a democratic leader talk this way?Despite its nascent status in Pakistan, democracy is arguably the best ever system of election, governance and accountability. It affords the people an opportunity to punish those in power if they fail to deliver. It is for the safety, welfare and empowerment of the masses and thus cannot be discredited by such ‘democratic leaders’.The writer is an academic and researcher. He blogs at www.tahirkatlang.wordpress.com and can be reached at email@example.comPublished in Daily Times, July 30th 2018.