THE AMERICAN NOTEBOOK
By Asif Jamal
May 11th saw nation in the cues to bring a change in Pakistan. People gathered since morning and remained in the sultry weather perspiring in the hot and humid but never left their spaces until they stamped on the ballet papers for the candidates they felt appropriate for their representation. The change in the typical mind-set has come as a number of so-called politicians lost their long-sitting-seats in this recent election that showed that people are now raising their heads and seeking answers from those whom they voted all along! They trusted them with their votes; put them in the House while their problems remained unsolved rather further deteriorated.
Only this time, a wave of change was vividly seen on the streets when nation vowed to cast their votes at any cost, decided to bring in the candidates they really wanted to see. However, the yard-stick of measurement of performance in this election was primarily just the last five years of the previous government. Ironically, there is not even one thing one can count that the previous government delivered and yet stayed in power for uninterrupted five years and enjoyed the infinite power in the House when they had the control of passing any bills to benefit nation but perhaps, such was not the plan except the personal gains. So, the people made the count of it and a party who had swiped in the previous elections and took power with heavy mandate, now could not even achieve half the numbers of seats (from the previous elections), that means, people have rejected and now keeping a hope from the new leader of the House to bail out the nation from all the prevailing mess and bring about most important, peace on the street.
Indeed, the turnout of the voters was higher than the last elections. Only this time, the voters sort of drifted away from their mind-set of not going to vote, stay home, donâ€™t care etc. Generally the a large participation of voters used to come from the rural areas due to mostly having a feudal-follower-system in place but only this time, those from the urban voters came into action mainly because they have seen all the earlier politicians in power who proved to be nothing but embarrassment so they believed in Imran Khanâ€™s abilities and came behind him and got out of their homes to vote. It was only the first time scribe himself witnessed that those living in the posh areas, lined up out to cast their votes. This was the big change. The conscientious inhabitants of those from the four provinces are no longer willing to let their votes go waste.
However, the rigging is also something that cannot be totally eliminated. There had been reports about bogus votes being cast but itâ€™s like a store or a manufacturing facility where 10% waste is built into the cost, no matter how well the operating procedures or certifications are done, but there have a leakage in the system. Similarly, there must have been bogus votes in this election as well, but in general, people came out of their houses as well. Gradually, one day, when everyone is registered and exercises their fundamental rights, the chance of rigging will be further minimized and only the sincere, honest candidates will be given mandate.
Those so-called, senior politicians who did nothing but wasted the votes, shattered the constituentsâ€™ hopes and exploited the national resources are today cast-out from the run including the former prime minister Raja Parvez Ashraf who is vehemently rejected by the people of his own constituency in particular. This shows that people have started to think, and also have started td to act as well. There are quite a few so-called respectable names that were earlier rejected by the election commission because of their false declaration about fake degrees. So in some ways, the process of accountability has been initiated.
One thing that was decided on May 11th that people were going to vote, to bring someone else in power and as they were completely fed-up with situation and conditions getting bad to worst under the PPP government, so the mandate was given to Nawaz Sharif who took the largest number of seats to form the new government. Regardless of anything, if any government has any credentials to speak about anything being done in the country then itâ€™s only his government who has done some constructive work, the rest, before him have not even bothered to worry about doing any good and this time, maybe he will do even great and expands his horizon from Punjab to other three provinces as well. Nonetheless, he won the trust from the people but on the hand Imran Khan did well too. In fact, he got more seats than was expected. At provincial level, his party did very well in KPK thatâ€™s enabling him to make his local government. Having a proportion in the parliament and provincial houses is no doubt a remarkable achievement for him in the sense that this practice will prepare him for the future but Imran has to deliver in the KPK province to earn his trust in other provinces. So the test match has already started for Mr Khan and people are hopeful that he will come up to the expectation of the people and will be well prepared for the next term and will make a difference, but letâ€™s see!
Whether or not the change is going to be seen this time, but the real change has come in Pakistan. People have realized that they cannot change the system until they bring in the honest and sincere leaders in the country and that is only possible, when they stop undermining the power of the votes. Now the time is changing, pressurizing and using tactics on voters will not work anymore. Again, it cannot be eliminated once for all, but at least, the process has stared. Itâ€™s about wide spreading the message of awareness across the nation; itâ€™s about accepting the challenge of bringing the positive change so that one day, it can be, if not the powerful, at least, it will be remembered as self-sufficient and peaceful Pakistan. It may take a while but still it is something doable. After all, change is about changing the system, not the face!
â€“ To participate in this column or for comments and suggestions, you may reach the scribe via email at firstname.lastname@example.org & follow him on Twitter @AsifJamalNY