Election year

Published in Pakistan Today on the 14th of May, 2012.

As the last year of current Parliament’s tenure ticks away, the build up to election begins. It is not novel for Federal and Provincial Governments to be most sensitive to public needs and problems in such times. The purpose behind this sudden awakening of a resolve to give the masses some relief is obviously to bag votes in the coming elections. It is expected that people would conveniently forget the misery they have been in for four years and cling on to the sweet memories of popular promises and a few seemingly significant plausible measures taken in the last year and consequently vote for the same people again. Sounds insulting, demeaning even, that one would deem the masses to have such thick skulls and frail memories. But the worst part is that it works, people in great numbers do end up voting for the same people again. The broken promises, the detachment from public will, the inhumane corruption all become a thing of the past and claims like ‘we have learned from our mistakes’ or ‘it took us that long to rectify mistakes of our predecessors’, somehow seem promising.

This, however, is not the only reason voters choose the same people again. Reasons such as party loyalty also play a role; that since one has been voting for one particular party for ages he is hesitant to break the pattern, monotony is after all convenient. Also the fact that masses believe that they do not have a third option outside the two mainstream parties that have dominated the elections for a major portion of the last two decades. One wonders if consistent inept and dismal performance by these mainstream parties would have ousted them from the political scenario or at least diminished their influence, had there been a third option. In the coming elections, at least apparently there seems to be a third option. I, however do not expect that to make much of a difference.

The problem is our priorities, the criteria we use to determine who to vote for. For once if the voters put ‘the best man’ criteria over party affiliations, biradiris, financial well being and vote for whoever seems to have the best moral values and a spine that would hold once he sits in the Parliament making decisions affecting our nation’s sovereignty and integrity, it would certainly make a difference, or at least start to make a difference.

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