The conundrum of vote

By: | Abdul Moiz Malik |

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Its funny how we used to think in childhood that all your miseries will end once you enter adulthood and things will get sorted by themselves, you just need to grow up. But, only after you enter adulthood, you realize how grandiose a delusion that was. We grow up and our problems get even more convoluted. Same was construed by us about the right to vote. This year many youngsters who turned 18 after 2013 will vote for the first time. Growing up as millennial, our first instance of actually seeing the process of voting came in 2008 and then in 2013. Seeing our parents and elders vote, we wanted to do that as well but the obligation of a certain age bracket barred us from doing it. So, the feeling of being able to give your opinion in the selection of your representative was a good one but, like every other feeling, this turned out to be more of a predicament when you’re eligible to cast a vote.

Let’s digress a bit. If in your mind you’re a supporter of a particular party or you adhere to their ideology no matter how they fared, rose above or remained abysmal, you should stop right away. This writing might not suit your conscience but, if you’re a rational thinker and want to analyze a party’s performance before deciding who to vote, then our qualms are akin.

Let’s delineate this predicament.

There are a plethora of parties contesting elections with the cardinal aim to reach the echelons of power and form government. But, this fight always prongs among a handful of parties and even shrinks more further it comes to parties who actually secure enough votes to hit the bounty of an assembly seat. But, if, for last 5 years, you were waiting for these elections thinking that you’ll vote for a party who performed and left every party behind and ticked all the right boxes, moral vindication and a vision to take the nation forward, then, my friend, by now you must have hit reality; there is no such party. There is no clear winner of your vote. So, what are you going to do now? There is no party that has performed anything that can inundate a voter to vote for it. All of them were both, either good or pathetic.

So, the conundrum was who should I vote for?

Let’s start from PMLN. They had been in power for last five years, so it is comparatively easy to analyze them. PMLN came with an agenda of development securing outright majority to form a government without getting into the labyrinth of coalition. With such clear mandate, they embarked on their way. They stood behind the armed forces while they brought peace to this nation. They provided indispensable political support to the security forces while they went after rampant militants in Karachi, resuscitating its quintessential vibrancy and lost glory. They made palpable effort to reign in the energy crisis and things have improved – you can argue on that – as compared to how abject they were five years ago. Their performance in Punjab speaks for itself. The province has been leaps and bounds ahead from other provinces in every index, surveys and developments for quite a long time now. Punjab’s development is what essentially made PMLN an impregnable force in the province. And even this time, the chances of any party wrestling Punjab away from PMLN is minimal. So, it was all good. But, things took a wrong turn when Panama Papers befell upon the government. How PMLN handled it, is a debate for another time but, the verdict of Supreme Court disqualified PM Nawaz Sharif and the ‘N’ has been eviscerated out of PMLN. This was a blow the party decided it won’t be taking easily. The entire party stood behind their disqualified leader and made every effort to keep his position intact in the party. They went as far as making an amendment in the constitution. That shouldn’t have happened. Then, Nawaz decided to propound his narrative. His intransigent peddling of sazish narrative imperiled the whole system and the aggressive defense of Nawaz’s escapade by his party members mired their legitimacy. Nawaz Sharif was disqualified, SC gave a unanimous verdict, PMLN placed a new PM and the system should have moved on. The decision of Nawaz’s disqualification was dubious, it lacked substance, and the reason of disqualification wasn’t concrete, this is true but, Nawaz should have put forth his case infront of his people and should have let them decide whether they want him or not and there was a mild way of doing that. But, instead he decides to go belligerent that somehow casted consternation on the continuity of system. This was wrong on PMLN’s side. System is above individuals. This coupled with the crippling economy they left behind and the mounting loans on the already seeping exchequer has made the resuscitating of the economy a presage of awaiting challenges for the upcoming government, negatives that cloud the good things they did in their tenure.

They were equally matched by PTI; a beacon of hope for many in an otherwise plagued system. PTI saw its long impending heyday in 2013 elections when the party swayed the entire country with its narrative of change. Imran Khan, the larger than life head of the party gained immense popularity, so much so that he became certain of forming a government. He did form a government in Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa and people were looking upto PTI’s delivery in the province. Imran Khan and his party did well to reshape institutions such as police, and it’s exemplary. He also has all my accolades for the very successful billion tree initiative. His party however failed to live upto the expectations, and without a few achievements, he couldn’t provide that robust development that could have made his party stand apart. Instead, with time, KP fell to the negligence of the party as they were more active in centre aiming to topple the incumbent government. However, things didn’t turn out as he anticipated and Imran Khan instead of acquiescing started to peddle his dhandli narrative, so much so that even Supreme Court’s verdict couldn’t make him recant. He so overused this rhetoric that it became a threadbare while PTI kept losing every by-election. It was then when it divulged on Imran Khan that if he wants to wear that sherwani, he has to alter his course. He had to come down from that pedestal of dogmatism and play the foul game that every other party is playing. One after the other, all the cursed ‘’electable’’ started to amalgamate under the ambit of PTI. The very people were welcomed in the party whom it was to oust. Gradually, PTI became everything they said they won’t. From dynastic politics to preferring infamous electable over young leaders, PTI took a turn, all because it got tired of the struggle. A party with the name justice having a secretary general who’s disqualified by the Supreme Court is an oxymoron. Imran Khan, an otherwise vociferous voice against corruption, has clung onto him just because the vicissitude he brought to the monetary funds of the party. So is there any chasm between PTI and PMLN. Ostensibly no.

PPP, they suffered the comeuppance for their dismal performance in the 2013 elections which saw party being wiped out from the entire country but Sindh. PPP didn’t seem to learn from its mistake. Sindh lagged behind in every social indicator. Education, health, social service, everything rots while the dormant Sindh government ruled on and on. The open adversity with IG, the blatant backing of criminals like Jatoi and Rao Anwaar and the subsequent failure to arrest corrupt individuals are just a few ills to be named. It’s only when a savant man like Murad Ali Shah took hold of the government, PPP realized they actually have to do some work. 10 years after ruling, PPP wants you to vote for them just because they’ve built few hospitals and paved some roads. The tertiary care system in the interior is abject. The dilapidated education system speaks volume of their incompetency. If that isn’t enough, the treatment of this government towards Karachi is a reason good enough to not vote for it again. PPP is a progressive party who take stands on issues when most parties opt to remain mum. Bilawal is an eloquent young leader who appears to have a vision. PPP has sent a low caste Hindu to the upper house and they have a history of standing with minorities. However, these views, good word and progressive thinking can’t win you elections. You win them on your performance which PPP has ZERO.

So who to vote? All of them have been poor. Who deserves my vote? Should I give up my right to vote?

Essentially, no! There are good people, albeit few of them but there are. If you’re in NA 247, then you should look forward to Jibran Nasir. Educated people like him are what we want in our assemblies. They should be our voices instead of these repetitious political opportunists. Look for independent candidates in your constituency, they’ll be few but they’ll be asking for your vote solely on a manifesto and vision. Vote for them. Make them win. This time there are handful of them, in next elections, there will be more of them. This is how change will occur. Change doesn’t come overnight, it’s a long arduous process. These people should be given an opportunity to win. If they fail to deliver, at least they can be questioned.

You should vote for a party. You’re within your rights to, but if you vote for them, make sure you question them. Make sure you hold them accountable. To decide which party to vote for you can’t decide on who’s better than other, they all are bad. You’ve to see who’s the least bad of them all.

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