For the first time in its short history since independence in 1947, Pakistan has had a voters’ election day to encourage more than 84 million people entitled to vote to do so at the general election, that may take place next year.

This novel idea, mooted by the newly-appointed Elections Commission, is being headed by a retired Supreme Court judge who enjoys good reputation in the country. However, it has yet to be demonstrated that the election will be, according to the popular slogan, “just and fair”, free from rigging and fraud.

Pakistan is one of the unfortunate countries that still has not achieved the status of a nation state, although at the time of independence the intention was that it would be so. There are reasons for this:- The delay of many years in agreeing to the constitution by all the major political parties; the separation of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh); the long periods of army dictatorship; the avarice of the political elite for power and selfishness; and the gradual growth in extremism and terrorism.

The current wave of suffering from religious extremism and terrorism is of Pakistan’s own making.

The murderer of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, is still awaiting the punishment. It is common knowledge that higher courts of the country are scared by the extremists to conclude this case. Violence has escalated and no-one feels safe and secure.

Malik Iqbal, a Bradford resident who went to Rawalpindi to give testimony in a court case, was shot dead. It was a cold-blooded murder in his own house. The most recent victim of the Taliban has been Malala, a school girl from Swat, who is critically ill and receiving treatment in a Birmingham hospital.

It was Pakistan and its institutions which aided and abetted the grooming of jihadi elements to expel the-then Soviet Union from Afghanistan and later to deploy jihadis to fight in occupied Kashmir with explicit financial and arms help from America and Saudi Arabia.

The same forces are now not only fighting against American aggression and imperialism in Afghanistan, but also against Pakistan. They are hell bent on Islamisation of their kind in Pakistan and in the whole region.

It is rather late for the Pakistan government to acknowledge combined threats of the Taliban and other extreme groups as a danger to her stability and solidarity. Even the country’s courts appear to be scared stiff of violent retaliation from the Taliban when it comes to delivering justice to those accused of terrorism.

For the last seven years there has been a heated political debate in Pakistan – whether combating extremism and terrorism within the country is a Pakistani war, or it is a war Pakistan is fighting for America. The rapid increase in drone attacks in recent years has intensified this debate.

The country has been ruthlessly and mercilessly ruled by the connivance of a particular elite consisting of feudal lords, wealthy families, senior bureaucrats and army generals, who have inflated their bank balances and increased their property portfolio to monstrous dimensions within Pakistan and abroad.

In nearly seven decades of its existence, Pakistan is still a class-ridden country, part of which is fabulously rich and part is extremely poor.

The impending clouds of forthcoming election are indicative of no real change. The ray of hope which people of Pakistan pinned on Imran Khan, the country’s most cherished and even adored cricketer, is fading. The hope for change, the dream of any revolution in the near future, is not in sight at all.

Despite its ills and shortcomings, Pakistan still has tremendous potential for a brighter future. It is full of all kinds of natural resources – it has fertile land and proper seasons which are rarely found in many other countries. Above all, it has a large, young population whose talents have never been fully tapped.

Elections are only a means to a process that should be positively used to develop and flourish democracy. Without equipping the masses with education, democracy may remain un-functional. Nevertheless, it must continue in Pakistan because all other options have been tried and have failed.

If the present rulers do not learn from their mistakes and mend their ways, then they should prepare themselves to face the wrath of the Taliban and their supporters who will not hesitate to impose their kind of Islam in Pakistan and will ensure forceful conformity to it.