Balochistan is one of the fourth provinces of Pakistan. It is the largest province in terms of land and area and full of natural resources. Unfortunately Balochistan is facing insurgency from many years by insurgent groups and banned organizations like Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) who carried out attacks against armed forces. These anti state elements are getting support by foreign hands. Despite major attacks and security threats by banned organizations people of Balochistan always shows love, peace and patriotism towards the country. They always remain united with strong believes on democracy. Foreign involvement in Balochistan affairs has created many hurdles which left Balochistan underdeveloped.
Local government elections are necessary in every democratic system to transfer power from top to grass rout level. Its is the real soul of democracy. Article 140 of 1973 Constitution of Pakistan says that “provincial governments must establish a local government system and power to elect representatives of local governments”.
The Local Government elections in Balochistan were held on 29th May 2022 by the Election Commission of Pakistan in 32 districts. These local government elections were held after almost a decade. The turnout of the election was more than 60% which was a huge turnout bigger than a big city’s turnout. It was a big turnout in Balochistan after 1988. The political parties and their candidates have motivated the people to come and cast their vote. As a successful campaigns by the political parties and independent candidates people of Balochistan came and caste their vote without any fear.
The massive turnout shows how political parties, independent candidates and especially young people of Balochistan including women have paid their role in strengthening the democracy in Balochistan.
The participation of women candidates in these local body elections was more than expectations and women not only participated in the electoral process as candidates side by side of men candidates but the turnout of women voters was unprecedented.
The credit of holding peaceful and successful elections goes to the people of Balochistan especially youth (men and women), the law and enforcement agencies who are paying sacrifices for the peace of Balochistan, the provincial government and its institutions who played their key role and work hard for holding a peaceful elections.
People of Balochistan casts their ballet despite threats from insurgent groups and anti-state elements and proved that the threat and fear cannot stop them from casting their vote. Their love to the country made them enough strong and they proved that nobody can deter them. Their trust on law enforcement agencies, the army, police, levies and civil administration made possible for free and fair elections in a peaceful environment.
The holding of successful local gov’t elections in Balochistan and the big turnout is a huge setback for anti Pakistan forces like who want to create unrest, and wants to spread fear in the province.
Some 132 women candidates contested for the general seats, As per the result independent candidates have won 1300 seats, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) 98 seats, Balochistan Awami Party’s (BAP) 71 seats. The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaff (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) could not secure more seats as they were expecting.
Previously the security situation of Balochistan was not as much as good as today is and due to this, the election process was almost peaceful because security forces in Balochistan have improved the law and order situation there. After a successful process of local government election, people will effectively engage in the political process and decisions making process regarding their basic rights.
Balochistan always remain under the threat of foreign interference and involvement due to its natural resource and importance of Gawadar port. Now the China Pakistan Economic Corridor which is the central point of this Gawadar port is not seen good by some elements who do not want this Gawadar port be functional and CPEC become a economic hub for Pakistan. The anti Pakistan forces are trying hard by to disrupt peace efforts in Balochistan and disrupt this Pak-China Economic corridor (CPEC). But Pakistan security forces are alert and ready to deal any kind of situation.
After the local body elections now the power will transfer to local representative of people which will create a strong relationship between local representatives and the law makers who are in the gov’t. It will create a good atmosphere for the peace, prosperity and development of Balochistan. It will also help in strengthening democracy both in local and provincial level.
Although these were a small local body elections in Balochistan but in a way the people of Balochistan have participated was unprecedented and encouraging. This will create a bridge among the people and the government. It will further enhance their ability, their leadership and their enthusiasm for their batter, prosperous and developed Balochistan.
The peaceful process of local body elections in Pakistan’s big province is a slap on the face of those who do not want to see Balochistan developed and prosperous.
We can say that it’s a new wave of real change from top to bottom level. The people of Balochistan gave loud and clear message to those external forces who want to destabilize Balochistan and want to divide them. It proves that they are stand united with the state of Pakistan and nobody can divide them.
Transferring power from top to grass root level is a big step towards strengthening democracy and it will produce more leadership which will be beneficial for the society and for the country.
Mansoor Ahmed is an Islamabad based Researcher and Freelancer