We stand on the brink. For a timely return from the brink the lost confidence of the people of Pakistan has to be restored before the rage that is building within the chests of 180 million Pakistanis erupts.
The people of Pakistan will probably blame the politicians and the military rulers for all our adversities, without realising that they too are responsible for their own woes. Having suffered so much for the past sixty years it is time for the people of Pakistan to assert their presence and take charge of their own destiny. They can do so by making just one simple decision and that decision can change the destiny of the country. That decision, on the part of each Pakistani, is to take possession of his own vote and to resolve never ever to waste it for any temptation whatsoever.
To illustrate my point I shall narrate an incident from my own experience of the 2002 elections in which I contested for a National Assembly constituency—i.e., NA-15 (Karak, NWFP). Karak is a very conservative constituency and no one had ever contested for it on the PPP ticket. I stood second to a young man of 28 who contested on a religious party’s ticket. However, the reality was that the people preferred a man 28 years of age with no experience in government to my 52 years, in which the profile would speak of military service, civil service at the highest levels, some enviable achievements in life and a general reputation that was well respected by the electorate. Coming back to the point I want to make let me say that I did not pay a single rupee for anyone to vote for me. Lots of my polling agents and people within my own camp were secretly hand-in-glove with my opponents for monetary rewards. Many of them deserted their polling booths before the votes were even counted. Many of my polling agents influenced my voters to vote for the other side because money had passed into their pockets. On the campaign trail, three days before the actual polling I went to a remote village where the vote count was not much but I was still going there because of my own vow to reach out to the most neglected areas and people of my constituency. On the way to this village I had noticed that along the many deserted miles of the shingle road leading to that village there were many electric poles but the wire was mostly missing. On my asking I had been told that these poles had been there for nearly fifteen years but that people had stolen many poles and most of the wire because electricity was never actually provided.
On the way back, after having very pleadingly asked the villagers not to sell their vote, I was asked by one of my colleagues if I knew what had happened at the village gathering. He went on to tell me that while I was pleading to the villagers not to sell their votes an elderly person had approached him saying that why is your candidate wasting his breath when all you guys have to do is to tell me how many votes you want and what will be your rate. I was shocked but at the same time I also understood why electricity had never passed through to this particular village in over fifteen years despite the poles and wiring having been erected. This is the dark aspect of our so-called democratic elections and may well be the story of every constituency of Pakistan. However there is the brighter aspect too. Despite the treacherous acts of the greedy people on my campaign team who were actually working against my interests and may well have cost me the elections, there were those in the constituency who walked to the polling booths, or used their very own transport to get there and without even telling me just cast their vote in my favour using only their political sense after having heard and seen me at political gatherings. Most of my voters were from the younger generation yearning for a change from traditions and no one and nothing could buy them off. I stood second because of these people who, like me, stood up for a change. I am sure this element that wants a change in traditional politics is on the rise in each and every constituency of Pakistan.
In this lies the remedy to our ills. The people of Pakistan, especially the younger generation, have to step forward and bring about the revolution through the ballot box. Only then will Pakistan truly open itself to the change it yearns for besides opening the door to the ordinary Pakistani to become the master of his country’s destiny.