Being the essential part of a healthy democratic process, elections have always remained an important yet controversial topic in Pakistan. Not all the elections in Pakistan have contributed to the strength of democracy. Some have hampered its growth. However, the previous three general elections held in 2002, 2008 and 2013 can be considerably marked as elements of democratic strength in Pakistan.
General Elections of 2002 and their Role in Strengthening Democracy
The elections held in 2002 least contributed to the strength of democracy but it laid the foundations of a democratic and free-elections process in the country. These elections were held during the dictatorial regime of military president Musharraf. This fact undermines the role of these elections in strengthening democracy. Critics point out that how could this election strengthen democracy when country was then being ruled by an autocrat. Still, this election founded the very terms for a process that continues even today.
General Elections of 2008 and their Role in Strengthening Democracy
As far as the general elections of 2008 are concerned, they can be marked as middle ground in Pakistan’s voyage towards free and fair electoral process. This election, which brought Pakistan People’s Party into power, actually strengthened democracy by ending years of autocratic military rule. Further, allowing a healthy election campaign in the traditional mainstream political parties added to the spirit of democracy in Pakistan. Lastly, it was the result of this election the PPP-led government completed its constitutional tenure of 5 years thus establishing a well-cherished democratic norm in the country.
General Elections of 2013 and their Role in Strengthening Democracy
Elections held in 2013 can be regarded as the high point of democracy in Pakistan. It was the result of peaceful and unprecedented transfer of power from one democratic party to another through these elections. It was the election when three major mainstream political parties contested to emerge out. The election strengthened democracy by introducing the norms of effecting campaign amid the more learned public opinion.
Despite some of the controversies attached, the general elections of 2008, 2013 and to some extent that of 2002; added to the strength of democracy in Pakistan by introducing good electoral norms and providing the masses with better political environment. These elections brought the practice of peaceful transition of power from one government to another in constitutional way thus discarding all the unconstitutional practices of the past years.