What Were Azad Kashmir Voters Thinking?

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Whenever an incumbent government is reelected in most democratic countries, it is because of some solid reasons–primarily based on economic growth, law order and good governance. Recently we saw that happening in Turkey–where incumbent government was elected after overseeing four years of economic prosperity.

We also just witnessed the election of PPP in AJK. It doesn’t make sense how PPP won this election and based on what? What were people of AJK thinking when they voted for PPP?

The current PPP government has been in power in Pakistan for more than three years. During these three years Pakistan has gone through worse economic crisis in its history. From the very first day when this PPP government came into power, it knew that urgent attention required to meet the rising electricity demand. To this day government has failed to do anything to meet that problem. This has had a tremendous impact on economic growth of the country.

One may give this government benefit of the doubt when it comes to the law and order situation relating to terrorism. The same cannot be done when it comes to the worsening law and order situation not relating to terrorism. For political gains PPP led government has let Karachi run like a wild jungle. The government knows very well who is involved in this violence, but because of political gains and other reasons this government has failed to bring the economic hub of Pakistan to peace.

All this takes us back to AJK elections, and one may ask voters of AJK that what were they thinking when they voted for PPP? Some will say that PPP won this election because of wide spread rigging, which was mostly done before polls with fraudulent rigging. May be that explains the reason for PPP’s success.

On a broader level, there are other factors. Pakistan is not like Turkey or many other democratic countries yet. The performance of a government does not affect how people vote. Most of the vote, and especially the rural vote, is based on family, caste and other factors. It will take some time before we are at a point where good governance is rewarded and the bad one is punished.

I think that’s precisely what happened in AJK, mostly rural, caste-based voters voted based on reasons which had very little to do with governance. This is also true of elections in Pakistan. Although when it comes to Pakistan there is reason for hope. The election of 2008 is the example of that hope, this election led to the defeat of incumbent government, which was deeply unpopular.  If that happens in future– when governments will be judged based on performance–it would not be long before these governments will pay attention to most pressing needs of people. But if government does noting to solve any basic problems of people and it still manages to win elections through caste-based vote that would be a dangerous situation for Pakistan. That kind of election and voting would destroy the democracy in Pakistan. Democracy requires responsive voting based on a government’s performance.

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