Journals Perspective

Savoring My First Time At The Ballot Box

Arooj Khalid /

Not far from a school in the Shadman region of Lahore, Pakistan, which served as a polling place on Sunday, banners for candidates hung on the street.

By Arooj Khalid
Senior Reporter
LAHORE, Pakistan – I
used to think 2015 was going to be the most important year of my life.
Graduating high school, starting college, turning 18, getting a driver’s
license, all happened in the same year and I was very happy about it.
What I didn’t know,
or expect, was that this would also be the year I cast my first vote.
The general
elections in Pakistan took place in 2013, but the political party Pakistan
Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), which lost the election, claimed that voting in one
area of Lahore was rigged. The party demanded – and eventually got – a new
election for that single constituency, which includes my neighborhood.

Arooj Khalid, after voting.

The vote was for
local representatives to the national and provincial assemblies.

New voter lists were
issued and this time, my name was on them, too. I felt recognized, that my
voice and actions mattered much more to this country. I was one of many
individuals who would decide the future course.
The Sunday morning
was bright and sunny, and as I approached the polling station, there was a huge
crowd of cars, men, women and children alike. The banners of different
political parties decorated the streets and the people’s eyes shone with
Cars with stuffed
tigers on them and children with cricket bats displayed the elective symbols of
the two majority parties.
Arooj Khalid /
Posters show Sardar Ayyaz Sadiq
of the Pakistan Muslim League – 
Nawaz on a street in the Shadman
area of Lahore.

As I approached the
school where the polling was in process, a policeman checked my identification,
then upon entering the school, army men showed me to a separate women’s check
post where lady guards checked me for any suspicious items.

Mobile phones, cameras,
sharp items – none of that was allowed inside. The security was really tight
this time to eliminate any chance of irregularities.

Arooj Khalid /

An election banners carries
the image of Imran Khan,

the chairman of the Pakistan

Tehreek-e-Insaaf party. 


I went inside to the
polling station, where there was a queue of women waiting to cast their votes.
In Pakistan, women and men vote in separate areas at the polling station.
Senior citizens, middle-aged and young women, and those in the initial years of
adulthood like myself, gathered there.
After some time, my
turn came. I showed my identification and had my thumb inked to confirm that I
had voted. A separate permanent ink mark guards against people voting more than
I filled out my
paper ballot and dropped my vote into the ballet box.
I remember dropping
it slowly, as to savor the satisfaction of my first vote. When I walked
outside, I was a responsible Pakistani citizen. I had done my duty and raised
my voice in the defining of our future. And that feeling shall now remain with
me for the rest of my life.

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