May 11, 2013 may go down in the annals as the biggest practical joke ever played. It was a day much awaited by anyone and everyone, irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, etc. A day on which I was to choose how my country will shape up. The overall turnout has been estimated at more than 60% (unofficial figures).
So what went wrong? Well, just about anything that could. From very early on the great day, videos and pictures started pouring in from all over, not limited to Karachi or NA-250. However, based on personal experience and available evidence, it can be said that NA-125 (Lahore) and NA-250 (Karachi) takes the cake. Both these constituencies witnesses brazen shamelessness including personal visits by contestants, forceful voting, stamping by officers, multiple vote casting and what not. It is quite possible that these constituencies got more highlight because of available evidence while the happenings may have been elsewhere as well. How can one forget the agreement reached between contestants barring females from voting in Lower Dir?
Many are arguing that because of a few constituencies, one should not qualify that the Elections have not been free and fair. Here are a few thoughts. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), one of the truly national parties, could not campaign. Muttahida Qaumi Movemen (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) also took the hit. Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PMLN) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) had no such limitations. We all witnessed the overall process of nominations, scrutiny and finalization of contestants.
All throughout the process of nominations, scrutiny, campaigning to the election itself, various individuals, including media kept on raising multiple issues. A question which may be answered peacefully to oneself perhaps. Who is responsible for all that is mentioned? It is Elections Commission of Pakistan. Turning a blind eye and paying attention selectively. A speech by Imran Khan did not go unnoticed while alliances with terrorist groups and alleged terrorist suspects contesting is no problem at all.
It is up to the people to decide. It is not an issue between political parties. It is not MQM vs. PTI in Karachi or PTI vs PMLN in Lahore. A wider picture should be considered while getting all riled up for a cause. Bring in Balochistan in this picture, which is much neglected in the media. Now think, is all of this done by MQM or PMLN or PTI or PPP? We need to open our eyes and rise above our political inclinations.
Do come out, do raise your voice, it is your democratic right. But don’t come out because the party you voted for lost. Just come and raise your individual voice, claim your vote, claim your mandate. Even if you voted for a party that won but you had witnessed rigging, you are responsible to raise your voice. It is about long term establishment of the fact that we, the people are most important in this equation.