The recently conducted Local Bodies elections in Sindh have once again initiated a debate amongst the electorate upon the validity of the electoral process. Prima Facie PPP, the ruling party of Sindh since 2008, has swept the first phase of the polls but apprehensions are present over the credibility of the mandate because of the allegations by opposition of rigging and the violence that took place across Sindh during the polling day, which unfortunately claimed two lives and left scores of people injured. The post-polling drama is not unprecedented either as the runner-ups of the elections have always levelled such allegations. Ironically, the 1970’s national polls are the only ones considered immune to such malpractice, but the political disaster that it brought culminated in the division of Pakistan. Following it, the electoral process has always been under the spotlight for all wrong reasons and the primary concern of all political stakeholders has been the unconstitutional intervention in the political domain. It is an open secret in Pakistan that in addition to the support of the masses, one needs to have implied consent of powers that be to get any public office. Voters also vote for candidates in view of such dynamics as practically the electorate revolves around the electables, who are basically upholders of the incumbent status quo. Scores of people may gather in rallies and jalsas but that number is usually not translated into votes on the polling day, mainly owing to the practical compulsions people are engulfed with after the ballot day. Ironically, the 1970’s national polls are the only ones considered immune to such malpractice, but the political disaster that it brought culminated in the division of Pakistan. This is evident from the recent Local Bodies election in Sindh where PPP has claimed a landmark victory even after their worst performance. I say so because this is the land where hundreds died of HIV and thousands were diagnosed with it only because of the sheer negligence of the Health Department. What is worse is that all of this happened in Ratodero, the constituency of chairman PPP Bilawal. Karachi, the financial hub of Pakistan and Sindh, has been devoid of a functional public transport system for more than 14 years. The rampant corruption and lawlessness are what PPP has delivered for the people of Sindh but they still manage to ensure a victory because of an absence of an alternative. Sindh has been a victim of political stagnation because the de facto rulers of Pakistan have ensured unbridled power to them. Claiming to be champions of democracy, PPP has turned out to be worse than General Zia and Musharraf in maligning their opponents. However, change is inevitable; even the greatest empires of the world that ruled with utter arrogance are nowhere to be found today. It was believed that the Sun never sets on British Empire but history had alternate plans. It would be too pessimistic to believe that nothing has happened as there are examples where people have voted for the downtrodden. A prime example is an ice vendor Imran Latifi from the town Qazi Ahmed, who won a councillor against the PPP candidate, while Sartaj Chandio from district Qamber Shahdadkot, another political worker secured his seat against incumbent rulers. Moreover, four candidates of the left-leaning Awani Workers Party were also elected, which shows that the process of change has been initiated, though at a snail’s pace. To ensure change, the “neutrals” will have to act neutral and let the people decide their fate. Last moment services of “phone a friend” should not be used to strengthen the corrupt and immoral status quo. In addition to it, the media will have to play its role positively and instead of prioritizing commercial revenues and reckoning vested interests, national media houses shall have to provide media coverage to all political stakeholders. Towing line of a narrative propagated by a single political party to malign its opponents should be stopped as the formula of hybrid regimes, be it of PPP, PTI or PML-N, all have failed to work for the strengthening of democracy. Instead, democratic norms have been compromised for the lust for power. This may sound utopia but this is the ultimate solution for this controlled democracy. Lincoln said it more than a century ago that government of the people, for the people and by the people but in Pakistan this rather seems to be mere lip service. It is quite possible that today’s generation may not reap the fruits of democracy but the future generations will definitely as Lincoln is not alive to see how great America has become but in reality, it has because the democratic norms have their roots deep within the American society. The writer is a freelance columnist.