Originally published in the Express Tribune Blogs, on 23rd of April, 2015.
Who bags NA-246 and which party stands victorious tonight makes little difference. What matters is that today’s election will put an end to the environment and politics of fear prevalent in Karachi for years.
Active campaigning by other candidates in Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) stronghold, polling agents standing brave at polling stations that were once no-go areas for all political parties and candidates except MQM and fearless voters walking into polling booths with the intention to not vote for MQM, and then being able to walk out and go home, are all a breath of fresh air for Karachiites.
This by-election is little about a seat in the Parliament; it has been more about creating political space, and room to breathe in Karachi’s once suffocating air.
Tonight will reveal only one victor, but many claimants. In their statements, everyone will be a winner. One can only predict these statements, but one can also add a tinge of presumed honesty to his predictions.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) may be the first to claim credit for ending fear. They have been doing so well before the Election Day. They may state,
“Winning the NA-246 seat was never our objective, the real aim was to eliminate fear from the voters’ hearts and minds, and in that we have succeeded. It is PTI, and PTI alone who is responsible for the fearless environment that we witness in Karachi today. We intentionally did not attempt to rid Karachi of this menacing fear in the 2013 general elections. It was always our plan to fight this battle in a by-election. The fact that Rangers had already done what we claim to be doing is yet another anti-PTI propaganda”.
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) is contesting the election too, as they have several times in the past. JI and PTI are often on the same page on several national and political issues. Tonight’s statements from both these parties are also expected to be from the same page.
MQM’s statement, in case they win the seat – as expected – is likely to be very dramatic. With Altaf Bhai on the phone, drama is inevitable. The statement from Altaf Bhai is expected to be the most entertaining, consisting of pauses, songs, some really funny English pronunciations, threats and what not. MQM will reveal a hundred different interpretations of this one victory.
Some aspects of Altaf Bhai’s statement may be,
– How this is a slap on the faces of all “anti-MQM” forces.
– How the people of Karachi have “spoken”.
– How brave MQM followers have crushed all conspiracies hatched against the party under the feet of their political and popular force.
– How the Scotland Yard should now drop all cases against MQM leaders as they have won a seat they always win – only with lesser votes this time.
– And, of course, a resignation and then its withdrawal by Altaf Bhai.
However, these statements will not be restricted to parties contesting the NA-246 by-election. This bandwagon will be open to jump on for all. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), through any of its many spokespersons, will claim credit. Their expected statement may read:
“It is the PPP that deserves credit for improved law and order situation in Karachi. After ruling Karachi for over seven years, we suddenly decided it was time to clean this city of all that is evil. Under the guidance of our sab pe bhari Zardari, we decided to nod in affirmation to everything the rangers say or do. The fact that we did not have a choice has nothing to do with our consent to the Karachi operation.”
Last, but in no way the least, will come Mr Pervaiz Rasheed. This guy has his own version of Newton’s third law of motion, which reads:
“For every press conference by Imran Khan, there is an equal and opposite press conference by Pervaiz Rasheed”.
As soon as PTI ends their press conference, PML-N will begin theirs. Mr Rasheed may be heard saying:
“Imran Khan jhoot boltay hain (Imran Khan lies)”, following his set format for opening press conferences.
He may continue to say,
“Karachi owes its improved law and order situation to no one but the honourable Prime Minister and his government. The army and rangers sometimes tell us what they plan on doing. Sometimes they tell us after they have done it. The fact of the matter is that sometimes, we are told and informed. Karachi operation is one of such planned and done things. And the government may or may not have been told; nevertheless it is the government and thus deserves credit for anything good going on in the country. Anything bad though, is a conspiracy against us hatched by Imran Khan in connivance with anti-Pakistan elements. I would like to end my statement by saying that Imran Khan aik ganda bacha hai (Imran Khan is a bad boy).”