Of deserters and turncoats

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  • Between hope and despair

It’s elections season and political parties and political leaders of the country are all going gaga over it. It’s the time when turncoats jump onto the bandwagon and deserters express their long held reservations against their parties – all in the run for getting a stronger election ticket.

While it is going to be a multi-party election, the main competition seems to be happening between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) – the two apparent leading political parties – since Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) looks nowhere in the picture outside of Sindh.

These two political parties have started awarding tickets to the electables over criteria unknown to many as the devoted political workers have been ignored over the turncoats. Similar things can be seen on news all day long as political workers of one party (PTI) have been protesting outside the chief’s residence over unfair allotment of election tickets while leaders of the other party (PML-N) are holding press conferences, challenging dynastic politics of the Sharif kids.

They recount how they have faced jail time and devoted their lives to the party but little do they know that the top hierarchy has to look beyond devotion when it comes to winning elections. May be because elections are all about number game and higher the number of votes, higher are the chances for a party to form a government. As some of these deserters and turncoats can guarantee a seat, to say the least, they are a priority for the party.

However, one thing that’s common in the narrative of all the political parties and media alike is the idea to ‘vote’. Political parties are raising slogans like ‘Vote ko izzat do’ (Give respect to vote) and ‘Vote for change’ but the question is who exactly are they asking to cast a vote to? Same faces representing a different political party this time or the generation long politicians who have done little but looted the country?

It is unfortunate that we don’t have a third option – someone the people can actually rally around, who represents people in true sense and brings reforms in the system that is rooted in corruption, cronyism and nepotism

Vote, so the same representatives are brought to the Assembly and they do anything but represent the very people who land them there. Most will serve their personal interests and continue what they have been doing for 70 years – loot and fool the country and its people. The cycle will continue for God knows how long. Probably after the next two, three generations, we would be able to see a better democratic setup but for now, it remains a pipe dream.

Not many people are hopeful about this election, mainly because of these same deserters and turncoats who can easily spill money and win their seats. However, something recent that gave a little hope was that the feudalist politicians are finally being a little questioned by the locals for what they have delivered while in power. This happened with Sardar Jamal Laghari and Sardar Saleem Mazari when voters demanded for basic rights like education and employment as they stepped into their constituencies asking for votes.

These general elections, which should be a competition to change the system and make this country better, have only become an election about choosing the lesser evil among PML-N and PTI and the choice here is obvious for many. At one hand, the PTI is rooting for the same politicians it once used to voice against while on the other, we have PMLN that is too occupied with its internal matters to pay a heed to the an effective election manifesto. Meanwhile, the PPP probably is still confused whether Bilawal is mature enough to hold the reins of the country or not. Not to mention the prior five-year performance of these elected political parties in all four provinces which has largely been disappointing, with little service to the people – except roads and metros of course.

It is unfortunate that we don’t have a third option – someone the people can actually rally around, who represents people in true sense and brings reforms in the system that is rooted in corruption, cronyism and nepotism. In such a case, religio-political parties also come into play and we can already see a couple of them gearing up for the elections with Tehreek-e-Labbaik and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal being on top.

The 2018 general elections are being anticipated with hope and despair at the same time as democracy and a free and fair election is what can bring this country out of the ruins. We have experienced almost all sorts of governments, and democracy – in whatever shape we have – happens to be the best model for our society. How these elections turn out to be and how the next elected government keeps its word and fulfills its promises is something that remains to be seen.