Indeed there was never a dull moment in the just-concluded elections of Pakistan, 2013.
And there's not a hint of excitement, expectations, fervour or fever dipping down now that the long-anticipated exercise is done with. All eyes are now riveted on what kind of government hogs the national stage to perform in the lime light of popular approbation.
The most convincing and impressive winners in the undertaking are the people of Pakistan. Defying the deadly challenge of the Taliban and their affiliate terrorists, the people of Pakistan came out in droves to let the whole world know that they are for democracy and loathe terrorism or radicalism of any dispensation.
More than 50 million-out of over 86 million of registered voters-turned up at the polls to brave the elements. A 60 percent-plus voter turnout was impressive by any reckoning; it put to shame voters in the established democracies of the west where anything close to a 50 percent turnout is regarded as good and positive.
The people's enthusiastic participation in the polls was a resounding affirmation of their faith in democracy as their system of governance of choice. They have paid a horrendous price in blood-over 40,000 Pakistanis killed in acts of terrorism related to the so-called ‘war on terror'-because of the monumental follies of their myopic leaders since 2002.
Another 130 or so were killed in the pre-election period in violence related to electioneering. And yet they refused to be cowed down by pesky terrorists, or their like-minded affiliates, warning them of a Dooms-day scenario if they didn't pay heed to them.
But with their courage and bravado categorically carved in granite, the question is did they make the right choice and choose the right party or people by exercising their franchise? Let's see how they have performed in that department.
The election results, while richly deserving of kudos for the people for showing great backbone in the face of odds heavily weighted against them, have once again exposed the fault-lines running against the nation's cohesiveness.
Even the most sanguine and mealy-mouthed political pundit can't refute the jarring reality that Pakistan's national unity just barely hangs there, precariously, by the skin of its teeth. Nothing illustrates it more convincingly, or jarringly, than the way the two larger provinces of the Federation of Pakistan-Punjab and Sindh-have voted.
Pakistan Muslim League, Nawaz Group (PML-N) has swept the board in Punjab but has failed to inspire voters in the rest of the provinces. The people of Punjab have voted for PML(N) largely because they see it as a guardian of their interests. By the same token, other provinces don't find its credentials convincing for the safe-guarding or promotion of their interests.
This has invited a barbed and below-the-belt compliment from MQM's absentee-leader, Altaf Hussain, who has felicitated Mian Nawaz Shareef for emerging as Punjab's undisputed leader.
Sindh, in contrast, has come up with the troubling scenario of a province divided right across the rural-urban cleavage.
PPP that lorded over the country for 5 years under Zardari's thieving rule has performed only in rural Sindh, where its vote bank is still captive and safe. But in the rest of the country it has been wiped off the slate, right so for its banditry and rape of the national economy. It's no longer a national party but has been driven into the narrow confines of rural Sindh.
MQM has managed to retain its hold over Karachi and Hyderabad, though its touted ‘massive vote-bank' has been considerably dented. And its 'victory' of sorts has come, once again, courtesy of its lawless gangs storming polling stations and stuffing the ballot boxes with bogus votes. Documented and video evidence of its armed gangs violating the sanctity of polling stations and disrespecting the voters' prerogative have been passed on to the Election Commission, aplenty.
It remains to be seen how much backbone there is in the EC to take these rabbles to task. As it's, EC has been one huge disappointment in the whole process of elections. Right down from its doddering-and increasingly inane---Chief, the octogenarian Fakhroo Bhai, EC has failed to live up to the expectations of the people. It hasn't shown any gumption, or willingness, to perform as a fully-independent or empowered body.
The people of Karachi have been robbed of their hankering to vote for change from the Mafioso that has held their city in its thrall as hostage for more than two decades. MQM is not a political party in the conventional sense; it's more a mafia run, by remote control, by a Don who has been living in plush exile for more than twenty years but can pull the levers of raw power through his goons to terrorise the people of Karachi. Anyone doubting that need only look at how brazenly they have robbed the Karachiites of their vote.
To rub salt into the wounds of the people of Karachi, and those of Pakistan, the Don is threatening to unleash his goons if protest is raised against his thuggery. He has the gall to threaten Karachi's ‘secession' if he is obstructed in his anti-Pakistan activities.
But in a pleasant surprise, which is a first of its kind, the hardy Pathans of Khyber-Pakhtoon-khwa (KP) allowed no handicap to impede their steely resolve to vote in a party of real change.
KP voted solidly for Imran Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) because it wanted to punish their traditional party-ANP-for having bartered away their dignity and honour for American dollars and patronage. ANP has been truly decimated, if not completely rubbed off the political landscape of Pakistan.
It's befitting comeuppance for a bunch of opportunists who had joined hands with Zardari's PPP-led government to give a blank cheque to the Americans to pound the tribal areas of PK with impunity in their alleged pursuits of 'terrorists'. No other Pakistanis have paid a higher price of freedom than the hapless people of PK's tribal belt.