Basharat Peer writes: [O]n Saturday, Pakistan was overwhelmed by an enthusiastic outpouring of voters across classes and ethnicities. Some waited for hours to get into the polling booths. Some walked miles, in temperatures ranging from a hundred to a hundred and ten degrees Farenheit. Some had flown from U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, and the United States, taking time off from their jobs, to be able to cast their votes and make a statement in favour of sustained civilian rule, in hope of a better Pakistan.
One of the Pakistanis who partly lives abroad is the London-based novelist, Kamila Shamsie, the author, most recently, of “Burnt Shadows.” Shamsie had returned to her city, Karachi, before the elections. As she left home to vote, she began to tweet #pollingboothtales describing the atmosphere. Shamsie was moved by a mass turnout of women voters: “They came in niqab, they came in hijab, they came in combat trousers and even a kaftan,” she tweeted.
Shamsie had never seen voters in Pakistan so intent on making it to the polling booths and casting their ballots. “I went to vote in the morning, stood around two hours with very good-natured, chatty women all around me. Then it turned out that the ballot papers were invalid because they didn’t have the necessary official stamp,” Shamsie told me. She went home and returned after an hour. “An hour or so later the stamps arrived at the polling booth and I went back, queued for another two hours. People were wilting, but still determined. And I finally cast my vote. I am very moved by the Pakistan populace’s faith in this battered process, and I’d like to see that honored by the government (probably a coalition) which comes in,” she continued. [Continue reading…]