Monday, May 6, 2013

Voting fever rising by the day

Since the voting fever is reaching its crescendo in Pakistan, and twitter, facebook are abuzz with many wannabe social scientists and analysts or even prophets, informing of the 'awesomeness' of voting, 'voting rights' and the possible bright future. I will write down a few of the conversations I had with random people on the road.

Sohail Khan is a taxi driver. Originally from Charsadda and now a resident of Banaras in Karachi. Former Jiyala, who calls Zardari a dog (like a lot of other people) and considers him the murderer of Bibi - supports Jamaat-i-Islami now. Who in his own words are lousy politicians, with nothing to offer as a political party except 'chutyapa', his words, not mine.

Q: Aap kisko vote dengay is dafa? (Who will you vote for this time?)
Sohail: Ye awam chutya hai, phir unhi logon ko vote day kar lay aayegi, jinhon nay mulk ko kha kha kar iska ye haal bana diya hai. (The public is stupid, and will again vote for the same people who have brought the country to this stage with their corruption). Mein kisi ko vote nahi donga. (I will not vote for anybody). Ghar ko tala lagaonga andar se, or araam karoonga. (I will lock my home and relax).

Q: Leken aap to JI ko support kartay hein ab, unko vote nahi dalengay? (But you support JI now, you will not vote for them?)
Sohail: Nahi, bekar log hein. Jub tak Bhutto zinda tha, Benazir tha, hum vote dalta tha, ab to koye nahi bacha. (No. Everyone is useless. Till Bhutto was alive, his daughter was alive, I used to vote, now there is nobody worthy enough).

We laugh together and enjoy the rest of the ride while talking about different topics, especially the law and order situation - speculating about bomb blasts and target killings. Sohail is a Pakhtun and faces racism in this city every other day. Being a Pakhtun can automatically at times translate to being a supporter of the Taliban and their likes. Another taxi driver cum marble cutter, Zahir Khan said that he has to at times allow police to 'random check' him. Zahir is from a village in Shangla. He lives in Nusrat Bhutto Colony, Karachi, that is famous for being a Taliban infested area and therefore, has to go through police and Rangers' operations every other day.

In Zahir's opinion the only solution to all this trouble is dictatorship. Although, he swings between supporting the Awami National Party and Army rule, he considers Ziaul Haq's era as something that was better for his class.

Q: Aap vote kisko dengay? (Who will you vote for?)
Zahir: Mushkil hai vote karna. Halaat bohat kharab hein. (It's difficult to vote. City situation is very bad).

The conversation goes into a discussion about how the military operation in KPK made some differences for his relatives. How the feuds died down a little, because Army regulated the ownership of weapons. The most enthusiastic about voting thus far, judging from different discussions, seem to be the youngsters who will be voting for the first time.

A student at Karachi University said that he will vote, since it is his right, and without participating in the election he cannot pin the blame on anybody. However, he was honest enough to admit that all he knows about democracy 'working out in the long run' is theoretical. So for him, as long as the country gets on a track for betterment, he does not care whether it is a democracy or a dictatorship.

In all this rhetoric, a resident of Thatta had a very simple statement to make.

"I will vote who my landlord asks me to vote for."

This perhaps is the culmination of the 'democratic process' in Pakistan. Where rural areas comprise a majority. Pakistan has a total population of 180 million, out of which around 60 percent live in rural areas as per a World Bank report. The voter from Thatta is not the only one to be saying this, a majority of the rural population vote either the landlord they work for, or for someone the local feudal seeks to gain from.

This leaves one to ponder the differences between a democracy of choice, and a democracy per say. One might even feel better if it ended here. But it does not. If weening votes from helpless peasants was not enough, the number of portfolios and ministries that our 'democratic' regimes boast add insult to injury.

To accommodate the left over senior leaders and ex-legislators, several posts are created to appease their hurt sentiments and egos. Following is a very basic breakup of the number of seats we have, despite being a smaller country compared to United States and India.

Oh and lest we forget. The interim setup that we have numbly accepted is not much different either. The power (to maintain the status quo) is now being shared between the feudal families, and their homies. Be them the Sethis, the Mandviwalas or the Shahs.

1 comment:

  1. "We hang the petty thieves and appoint the bigger ones to public office" - Long ago quote, so true of today!