The humdrum of elections


Who would bring the real change?

A feeling of numbness has taken over the mind these days. Although with the announcement of the date for elections in the country, the frame of mind should be very different. A new fervour should energise the self, after all, having witnessed much turbulence, ups and downs and musical chairs in the government during the past five years, the chance has come again, to identify the saviour of the country, pin hopes on him or her and join the nation in its electoral process. But instead, to all the hustle bustle just beginning to start around the corner, the mind reacts: ‘So what!’

Among the candidates for the leading position of the country, the criteria for success seems to be for the one who can effectively put others to shame. Mud slinging, hurling abuses and shoes, cheeky remarks and not-so-friendly pats on the cheek are the moves of politics of today. Electoral campaigns focus more on proving how much the other did wrong than what are the next agendas. Even those spelt out are predicted to be more successful simply because they offer a different approach from the previous, not because some actual measure of gains and losses has been made. A claim of adding millions of job opportunities through private sector by giving tax benefits is like a double edged sword. While the state is already suffering from a lack of effort to widen the tax net, how much of incentives can it afford to give? And by bringing in the private sector to fulfil its obligation, what role does the state offer to play?

The mainstream media, whose job is to analyse and present a comprehensive reading of the background, practices and future goals of each political party, is simply panning and tilting up and down to their movements, attuned to every clash, noise and humdrum in the political scene but oblivious to any practical solution or rather the lack of it.

One way to be able to judge who would be the right candidate is to prioritise the issues which the country is facing and assess who would be able to address them adequately. But when making the list, where does one start from? Water resources and water table are reaching dead levels and while unlawful and damaging constructions of dams by our neighbouring arch rival is meekly protested against, the existing half finished or prospective projects in the country lay in a dead sea of regress. Consequently, despite claims of no load shedding, the country continues to burn and scorch in the arid climate of the region, with its toll finally coming on the lifeline of the nation: agriculture.

Can anyone promise to effectively address honour killing? Is anybody interested in the agenda of self reliance? What can be a possible solution to curb ethnic violence, does anyone have an answer?

Some infrastructural development can be seen, which is actually a good contender for vote bank from the simple minded, who believe what they see. But where do these roads lead to? Possible tourist attractions mired by either extremist elements, violence or deforestation and broken infrastructure: so the roads lead to a dead end! Driving on the glossy and winding lanes in particularly one province of the country, the traveller sees abandoned schools and healthcare units. Which party has given a long term solution with facts and figures on how to raise the budget for these constitutional rights? Those who claim to have achieved success in these areas are challenged by independent surveys which prove otherwise.

Has anyone tried to graphically explain how to identify new markets for exports and save the existing ones and thus reduce the widening trade deficit? Has anyone promised to expand on alternate energy and set any benchmark for Pakistan to wean off from depleting fossil fuels for energy, as many developed nations have? Will someone please stand up and brief on how Pakistan should start aiming to have some firm footing in its foreign affairs and not depend only on traditional, tried and tested partners?

And these are but some of the issues, if not all, which can be measured in monetary terms. What about those which reflect the deteriorating society? What of those which are represented by our prestigious statesmen and lawmakers? When recently, a member of the National Assembly presented a resolution for a university department to be renamed as it represented Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate, unfortunately belonging to a persecuted minority, the resolution was passed. Whether out of hatred or out of fear against blasphemy charges or both, that day what the lower house practiced was a raging sentiment of our society: increasing intolerance. Does any political party boast a policy of tackling the issue?

Can anyone promise to effectively address honour killing? Is anybody interested in the agenda of self reliance? What can be a possible solution to curb ethnic violence, does anyone have an answer? Yes, there are claims to maybe all the troubling issues listed here, but whose claim to the words would prove valid, can any of us judge?

So how does one choose the next saviour for the country? The only criteria we have is: let’s assess who is less worse than the rest and put him to test. Let us one more time, open our hearts and with hope, help form a new government. For it is hope which runs our lives and this nation. We have to embrace our constitutional right, which is also our obligation and thus, whole heartedly participate in the electoral process. It is hope which aims to bring the real change.