Having traveled a path paved with blood and violence, to reach this destination, the bravest country in the world goes to the polls today. Relentless violence by extremists and terrorists in the month-long run-up to the polls saw nearly 100 killed and several hundred injured. Among those who lost their lives were election candidates. The MQM, the ANP and the PPP were declared to be the main targets and hunted down with cold-hearted, calculated precision. But they have had the grit and admirable determination to contest the polls and never once suggest boycotting them.

With threats by the Taliban continuing to pour in, undeterred, the people of Pakistan will vote into power, a democratically elected government today. More than ever before, in the 12 previous elections that preceded, today the result is uncertain. An energetic new entrant as a third party, Mr Imran Khan has upset the old order during this campaign, introducing a brand which the people have taken to with enthusiasm. Mian Nawaz Sharif, in a deep slumber since the last five years, regained his appetite for political campaigning and has led his party to the brink of victory in a hard fought campaign across Pakistan. He stands poised to perhaps see his party gain the maximum number of seats tonight. The PPP is braced for a fall in its fortunes, having had difficulty finding a face to lead the campaign on the ground and with a dismal record of 5 years of coalition governance weighing it down.

An independent election commission has been instrumental in realizing the dreams of Pakistanis chosing their leadership today. With determination and untiring effort, Chief Election Commissioner, Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, deserves the thanks of the entire nation, for having delivered what he promised: ie an opportunity to freely and fairly participate in a transparent election mechanism, guided by the same rules and regulations for all parties.

With a reasonably good, although not record turnout expected, the nation’s youth voters are expected to participate enthusiastically in a decision which will determine Pakistan’s direction at a crucial point in history. Will Pakistan’s fate be peace and stability at home, and respect and progress in the comity of nations…one can only fervently hope and pray. May the day pass with no untoward accident and all security fears remaining just fears. Tonight will tell who will hold the reins for the next five years, who the electorate has found worthy and who the electorate has snubbed. We urge all of our readers to participate enthusiastically in the polling process. We wish all contesting candidates the very best of luck.