Right after the 2013 general elections ended in Pakistan, people took to the streets and social media with slogans like: “Where are our free and fair elections?”, “We want new elections in Karachi”, and the most popular one, “They told me to go home because my vote was cast already!”. Election rigging is nothing new in Pakistan – the country has a long history of political parties winning through faked or forced votes. But the 2013 elections were unusual in the sense that this time citizens did not keep quiet but stood up for their right to vote.
After a whole week of protests against unfair elections, the people succeeded in forcing the Election Commission of Pakistan to stage new elections in some areas of Karachi– where most of the rigging took place. These protests inspire hope that the government elected this time will be held fully accountable for its actions, unlike the last government which failed the country in the economic, educational and many other sectors without any public scrutiny or dissent. The good news is that as the people realize their power and claim their rights, the relationship between citizens and the state in Pakistan is being transformed. After years of mental slavery, the people have had enough and are no longer prepared to be the puppets of corrupt governments.
Yet despite of all the crass mismanagement and blatant vote rigging, I still believe that this year’s elections were relatively democratic. As a new Pakistan was being made during the election day, I was out and about to feel and capture the democratic change my country was going through. Below are some images of the moments that I will never forget as a Pakistani.