Thought Process Behind My Vote

by Awais Leghari

In two days, a new equilibrium will be established. People of Pakistan have decided and are ready to cast their vote for a better Pakistan.

One thing is for sure; no matter who you’re voting for, your intentions are clean. All of us want to see a better, brighter Pakistan. All of us, however, have our own opinion on how that goal could be achieved and this is where the divide settles in.

Before I go on and announce my own political inclinations, I would urge you all to at-least cast your vote. Even if you do not believe that a vote possesses its hyped worth, still cast it. If you do not support any of the political parties, then instead of wasting your vote by sleeping all day, just visit your polling booth and cancel your vote.

After evaluating all of political parties in the contest, I have decided to cast my vote in favour of Pakistan Tehreek-E-Insaaf (PTI). However, in this post, I will only be evaluating my two foremost choices: PML-N and PTI.

Of course, there are many reasons as to why I’m choosing this particular political party over any other, and I’ll be outlining all of them for you to read. I do not expect you to change your own opinion by reading this, neither do I feel that I need to justify it to anyone. To each his own, but just for the sake of writing – because I love to write – I’m penning this down.

One of the major factors in deciding who to vote for is priorities. All of the political parties have their own blue-prints ready that they think are necessary for Pakistan to replicate, in order to prosper.

As a citizen living in Punjab, I see that the true competition here, is between Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Pakistan Tehreek-E-Insaaf. PML-N has been the ruling party of the province for the past 5 years, and their performance, according to many, has been satisfactory. I agree with this general opinion. As far as I’m concerned, I have seen infrastructural development occur through out Lahore and some other cities of Punjab. I have witnessed the emergence of new, innovative initiatives that have helped many a people with opportunities to do things.

But, is this enough?

Yellow cab schemes, Laptop schemes, Metro bus project, Over-head bridges, roads, use of Information Technology etc are all good initiatives, but I don’t see them as ‘crucial’ initiatives. I don’t see these initiatives as making ripples when I evaluate them with the routes that could’ve been taken.

It is no secret that the whole of Pakistan suffers from an energy crises. Industrial activity is being stifled, workers stand helpless as they go unemployed by the thousands, and us, the middle class, live inside a bubble of frustration.

Not many people are aware of the fact that under the 18th Amendment, passed on 8th April 2010, more autonomy was vested into the provinces. This also gave the provinces the authority to generate their own power to combat the energy crises.

Rs.30Bn were invested into the Metro Bus project in Lahore. Punjab’s, and not Lahore’s, infrastructural budget was Rs.62Bn. I am not even taking into account the money spent on the construction of roads or fly-overs; this is just the sum spent wholly on the Metro Bus project. I’m not taking anything away from the Metro bus project – I sincerely do believe that it really is a good thing – but in times of an energy crises, what would your priority be? Public transport in ONE city, or power generation for countless others?

Many people argue that it is impossible to get a power station on and running in the time left for provinces to do so, after the 18th Amendment. This argument is practically unfounded in terms of reason, proven by the swiftness and capacity of the Punjab government to orchestrate the whole Public transport saga. Moreover, feasibility reports of several power projects are already there, so timing was not really the issue. Had a power generation project been undertaken, countless would’ve been saved from being unemployed and the industrial suffocation could’ve been reduced. No wonder the GDP of Punjab has fallen down to 2.5% and does not fair well in comparison to all of the other provinces that stand at an otherwise less impressive 3.4%.

The infamous Laptop scheme is no different. If we consider the scheme from an objective, isolated point of view, then may be its seems like a decent project. I personally know a beneficiary of this scheme, who happens to be the son of my family’s tailor. The boy is hard-working and has managed to secure an admission in the prestigious University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore. To see his hard work rewarded by the receipt of a laptop is heartwarming.

However, we must also consider the alternatives. We must not let ourselves drown into the illusion that there is no choice; there is always another, better option that one could take.

Millions of children in Punjab and Pakistan cannot afford the privilege of attending a school. By not providing children with education, the state is officially condemning these children into a life of absolute, unparalleled struggle and is creating an unfair, unlevelled playing field. Education is a basic right of every child. If you were at the helm of the government in Punjab, what would’ve you done? Would you give more preference to the laptop scheme and see the tailor’s child happy, or would you have helped facilitate a basic right of countless, uneducated children in the province?

There is to more to PML-N that disappoints me, other than priorities.

On countless occasions have I said this, and I’ll say it again; symbolically, the ‘N’ in PML-N is significant. It represents years of nepotism at the helm of a political party, coursing its way through its veins and diluting the real essence of democracy. In a democracy, my voice should not be insignificant to others. It should be equal in strength and importance.

Pakistan Muslim League ‘Nawaz’, however, negates this very principle of democracy. If you stand for democracy, then it is quite ironical that you’re voting for a party that does not subscribe to democratic beliefs. If you do not believe in democracy but are voting for them anyway, then this is also ironic.

Many people argue that experience is whats needed to steer Pakistan out from this mess. I disagree on the account that in national affairs, experience doesn’t really account for much. This is not a static world; governments around us change, new circumstances appear, new challenges emerge and experience is almost as good as nothing. That is why there is a difference between ‘Government’ and ‘Politics’. In politics, experience may help you win elections, but it cannot help you run a government successfully.

When Ayub Khan took over as the dictator of Pakistan, he did not have any prior experience in governance. Yet, Pakistan during his time experienced an economic boom. When Bismarck arrived at the centre-stage in Germany, he did not have a meaningful experience of governance yet what he achieved was remarkable and astounding. So basically, saying that experience is the ultimate factor needed to help Pakistan move out of this quagmire, is untrue.

I cannot stand for a party where the sons of a leader are given more importance to people who have faced all the difficulties in the name of their leader. I simply cannot stand for a party where I am an unprivileged human being courtesy of my birth in a particular family. I cannot stand for this injustice.

I have decided to vote for PTI because it has shown me a new way in Pakistani politics. It has shown me, courtesy of a 17 year struggle by a man, that there is more to politics than just dirt.

PTI is the only party in the Subcontinent that exercises intra-party democracy. If this is not change, then what is? This has led me to believe that Pakistan is not a duopoly of two families, playing a game of ping-pong and exchanging terms with each other. In PTI, I see a Pakistan absolved from all this dirt.

PTI is the only party who has its priorities right, or at-least as I view things to be. They are unparalleled in their demands for educational reform, where I think the main battleground against terrorism actually is. I see this as a stage where everyone will be given a fair shot to all the available opportunities to succeed, whether one is rich or poor.

PTI is the first party to even recognise the plague of the Patwari system; a system of bureaucracy that embodies financial corruption to an extreme.

PTI is the first ever party to suggest depoliticisation of Police in a bid to combat terrorism and injustice on a national level. Considering that police is ‘famous’ for all the wrong reasons, this is a unique solution. In the fight for everyday justice, this would be a remarkable start.

The leader of PTI, Imran Khan, has done wonderful stuff without even coming to power. Establishing institutions like Shaukat Khanam and Namal University is not a walk in the park. All of this signifies a man who intends to give something back to the motherland, and I place my trust in his intentions. It is absolutely remarkable to notice that a man so dominant in Pakistani politics as Imran Khan, considering that he has never been into government and that his opponents already boast ‘governance’ on their CVs.

And lastly – In PTI – I see new faces, evident of the opportunities being given to people who haven’t experienced anything like this before. Since democracy is meant to empower people, I see this as a step in the right direction towards achieving that goal.

I will re-iterate again; I respect your intentions no matter which party you support. However, for me, PTI is what Pakistan needs right now.

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