Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience


Karachi’s mandate


Your Name:

Recipient Email:

-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.
-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.

Last year, we organised a ‘Draw Me Democracy’ poster workshop on behalf of Posters4Tomorrow in Karachi at the Visual Studies department of Karachi University. During the workshop, we had a discussion with the students and attempted to convince them about how to spread awareness about people’s right to vote. Many students believed that the politicians were corrupt and it didn’t really matter whether they cast their vote or not because they would either be forced to vote at gunpoint or someone else would cast their vote on their behalf. Most importantly, why should we put our lives in danger to go and cast our vote because the results are not going to be any different? It took us a good deal of debating to convince the students that it was their right to cast their vote and they must use it before it is used on their behalf without their consent. That they must come out of their homes in any case and use their right to vote. Not only do they have to understand that but they carry the additional responsibility of persuading others through the potential motivational qualities of their posters. If you can be productive alongside using your product as a tool to enlighten people about their rights, then not only would it profit you but it will also benefit your country and improve your people’s future. Convincing them about this was indeed an arduous task but the final result rekindled our spirits. This workshop was held in 15 countries across the world. Contrastingly, the posters designed by our children were in line with the social and political conditions of Pakistan and therefore, completely different from the posters made by the participants from elsewhere. Additionally, the posters were also effective in spreading awareness amongst people about how their right to vote is important and why it is crucial.

-Posters by Mariam Fatima Quli, Muhammed Osama and Yasir Mehmood Shah.

My vote was registered in NA-250, we thought that we could easily cast our vote early as the people of Defence and Clifton would prefer to sleep in until noon on a holiday. But there were long queues of women on one side and men on the other at our polling booth early in the morning. The voters were present but the ballot papers and boxes weren’t. An elderly woman who, like us, had thought the young ones would sleep in until noon discovered at the polling station that the youth had been in line since 7am but were now beginning to go home to wait until the ballot boxes arrived. We followed suit, planning to return later when the polling began.

-Photograph by Khuda Bux Abro.

We soon discovered that the situation was the same everywhere in NA-250. Probably those who always succeed from here had discovered that NA-250’s educated residents were planning to cast their vote this time. So there were no ballot boxes in most parts of the constituency. It felt as though if we stayed home and didn’t cast our vote, we would be committing a crime. Finally we heard that the ballots had arrived. So we got ready and arrived at the polling station, where the polling began after 2pm. But there were polling stations where the voters stood in queues for 10 hours with no signs of the ballot boxes ever arriving.

-Photograph by Khuda Bux Abro.

The old, the young, the sick, the disabled in wheelchairs or walking with the aid of a walking stick all knew only one thing: that they must cast their vote. No matter what happens, they must stand their ground. They hadn’t been brought there by force, but because they wanted to without caring about the blistering heat, their swelling feet and their scorched skins; their sole concern was to be responsible for their own vote. So it didn’t matter anymore whether any ‘change’ took place on May 11 or not, the elite class had finally discovered the vital importance of voting. Elsewhere in the city too, people had come out to vote in resistance.

-Photograph by Khuda Bux Abro.

The people standing in the queues shared food and water with each other without any divisions, without caring who was voting for whom. I’ve never seen such compassion, sincerity and discipline. There were all sorts of people there who stood in line without any religious, ethnic or linguistic divisions and awaited their turn. The queues increased as the day passed. In some areas of the country, women weren’t allowed to vote but the women of our new generation – whether they were daughters or grandmothers – were only worried about casting their votes. I felt proud watching our new generation showing such sincerity to their country, possibly as much as those other claimants. To be honest, I did see change occur on May 11. It doesn’t matter who we vote for, the right to vote lies only with the people. The claimants of Karachi’s mandate should let free and fair elections happen for once. If they win, then they are welcome to rule. But they cannot usurp Karachi’s mandate through threats and chaos. This time we thought that if the elections were in accordance to the procedures adopted by the Election Commission, then the election would definitely be free and fair. But those who fear the people distracted the process. How much longer are they going to deprive the people of their rights? I for one, don’t believe for very long. The people of Pakistan have spoken. And if this election hasn’t brought change; at least the journey towards it has begun.


Listen to this blog in Hindi-Urdu [soundcloud url="" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

The author has dabbled in every form of the visual arts. An activist to the core, Abro’s work deals with social themes and issues ranging from human rights to dictatorial regimes. He is currently working for DAWN as an illustrator.

Author Image
The author has dabbled in every form of the visual arts. An activist to the core, Abro’s work deals with social themes and issues ranging from human rights to dictatorial regimes. He is currently working for DAWN as an illustrator.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (43) Closed

AK May 16, 2013 06:07pm
Thank you to the people of North-of-Pakistan for bringing the PTI in..... Good move Masha-allah.
farooq May 18, 2013 03:44am
In Pakistan, political power does not rest with those who cast the votes, political power rests with those who count the votes.
Akil Akhtar May 16, 2013 11:56pm
No one gets around 100% of the vote in every election except MQM in karachi, makes you wonder how all the 50% of Mohajir poulation adn the other 50% of non mohajir population love MQM so much.
Asad Khan May 16, 2013 11:44pm
MQM showing its true color and face. It did not just happen in NA250. It happened all over Karachi in one form or the other. Every method in the book was used depending on the circumstances. ECP's role here is absolutely criminal in denying the people of Karachi their vote.
naveed May 17, 2013 05:58pm
Before writing, writer should be independent and free from any party support. But this writer wrote all his draeams in the artile, actually the columnist should spend time in katchi abadis of karachi and know who is solving problem of karachi and who is creating problem. Defence is in karachi, and people of karachi know how to control karachi and its mandate
AJ May 16, 2013 10:00pm
Totally agree with author here. Pakistan and specially Karachi will be much better place if everyone respect each other and accept defeat. Wait for next election and until then do things for which people elected you, if you do good things, people will love you.
A.R.Shams May 16, 2013 09:55pm
It is highly desirable that voting atmosphere should be so well maintained that the feel that they go from their home to castes their votes. - A.R.Shams's Reflection - Creative Living Spirit - Press & Online Publications - Moral Messages for Humanity...
Faisal May 17, 2013 05:36am
Actually the supporters of PTI were living in fool's paradise be it Karachi or Lahore. Mr. Imran Khan didn't even dare to come to Karachi before elections and put all his energies in Punjab and KP. What does he expect then. MQM may have alot problems but at least it has always stood up for the people of Karachi. Where was PTI/ the voters of NA 250 when 8000 people died in last 3 years. I will still suggest that when polling takes place at NA 250 every voter must try to cast his vote. The MQM on its part must think seriously why people of Karachi majority of which is still their voter, but this majority is slowly turning into minority. They must review their politics, nobody want to see strikes every week. Violance must end. Above all Altaf bhai should think is his party is better off while he has a comfortable life in London while the supporters and workers suffers here on daily basis. He must return and lead from here and see the sea change in Karachi since 1991 when he left.
Ashfaque May 17, 2013 10:40pm
Yes and your kind have given nothing but guns and extortion.
holl May 16, 2013 06:31pm
Atleast people from DHA and other parts of Karachi are important that media has paid attention to their plight. Most of central Sindh and Lahore citizen are not that lucky. The rigging in Lahore has been downplayed by most sector of the media due to influence by a powerful party. At leaset people from Karachi are more brave and they want to have their vote counted. Rest of the Pakistan will follow some day.
Amir Shah May 16, 2013 11:33am
Agreed. Actually the focus should be all Urban Sindh seats so people can be made aware how poor people mandate has been snatched already. DHA people are a bit fortunate their case is being heard for the rest of Karachiites and Urban Sindh, it is same as in interior Sindh, their ballot is casted without them even knowing.
Citizen May 17, 2013 08:46pm
And how much do they like sleeping with JI. Was this the union they had looked forward to!
Abid May 17, 2013 04:24pm
Faisal, I am living in Toronto Canada and I totally agreed with your view !
Citizen May 17, 2013 08:39pm
Not a single PTI supporter has yet been able to justify why it is wrong to poll in the whole constituency. A predictable response would be to demand reelection over whole of Khi which would be plain absurd. .
Citizen May 17, 2013 08:35pm
Dubai has a population of 2 million, half of which are temporary visitors at any time. Not all the people u see in Khi are the permanent residents of Khi. Most have their votes registered in their home towns.
AJ May 16, 2013 10:07pm
If we want to change our life.. we need to vote. Change will come but will be a slow pace inshahallah. I am sure me as a young generation will see a good change in years ahead and hopefully next generation will not suffer as much as we do now! God bless my country.
Adelaide May 16, 2013 03:37pm
In Pakistan no party will accept the mandate of other party. Muslim League never accepted the mandate of the majority and was satisfied after the partition of India
Parvez May 16, 2013 06:56pm
Well said................let's hope the political parties and their leaders also realise this and adjust accordingly.
Omair May 16, 2013 10:48am
Many people got a lesson. not to come out to vote again. they know whatever they vote the results are predecided
mike jackson May 17, 2013 05:24am
Dawn news needs to relocate to Lahore they have become fundamentally 4wheelistic.
Jawwad Haqqi May 17, 2013 07:18am
Well, now i'm sick of this 250! Educated People! Elite Class! Always disregarding other karachiites.. Shame!
Faran Ali May 17, 2013 04:34am
ECP should be blamed. They just managed to get the voters out of their homes but on the other side there was no planning or whatsoever to bring ease to the voting process. The process was the same old faulty one which is meant to "Fail" legally on all grounds. ECP should introduce E-Voting, they have 5 years to start working on it.
m kay May 16, 2013 07:53pm
Execellent point!! It took a man and his team 17 years of hard work and toil to get the message across, please do not waive it away in one go.
pardesi May 16, 2013 07:06pm
I don't agree that in interior Sindh ballot is casted without the voters even knowing about it. Yes, this is true though that sometimes due to pressure from family or elders of the village; I had to vote to a different party rather than the party that I wanted to vote for. I belong to rural Sindh and I know how polling agents of each candidate supervise each vote. Opposite to Karachi where you will be voting under guns held up by thugs. Whole Karachi has been made hostage by these same thugs.
ali ahmed May 16, 2013 09:52am
printing of few photograph of posh area or through social media will not bring fooled the nation by focusing NA250 ...and the real rigging was going in Punjab and the writter is focusing only on a few polling station in DHA..but the news of NA248 was black out..whole judiciary,ECP and media was focusing on karachi as if it was only part of pakistan..starting with illegal delimitation..what happened in Nawabshah? Thatta? it is surprising the daily dawn founded by father of nation has become partial and one sided..people only elect those who can protect them...because LEA"s has failed
Osama Ahmed May 16, 2013 11:04pm
I ain't glad to see it, what it happened i cast my vote so what? i didn't see any change which we were expecting, so let it go. we were willing to get real result but it didn't. we had been waiting for 5 years for changing but unfortunately all have been spoiled. :(
Tahir M May 16, 2013 09:35am
Yes definitely the journey has begun. Hopefully, this will bring out other good qualities in us i.e. to enlightenment, tolerance, honesty and love for the country first more than anything else.
Karachi Wala May 16, 2013 04:19pm
The video sounds just like Javed Miandad..... Is this really Miandad?
Kashif May 16, 2013 04:28pm
Very ture.
Aisha May 16, 2013 04:42pm
I'll never vote again after this fiasco.
shabbzz May 17, 2013 07:43am
Cant agree more with blister. I personally think 'change' has come and its in the thought process
Pakistani May 17, 2013 07:52am
That is why it is called a struggle. If change was this easy to come about, it would have happened long time ago. Re-polling will be a litmus test for the people whether they really want a change and hopefully people will respond with the same enthusiasm.
ASK May 17, 2013 10:47am
NA250 elite voters must now hope for a better change in KPK.
iqra May 16, 2013 05:28pm
yap.. i got a lesson, i never ever cast vote coz in polling station i fought some women to spoil the disciplin. i just realized them on thier wrong step. this is my 1st n last vote that i cast.i was still waiting about 6hours for my nr in full heat n light. but after all these hardals where is revulotion? the match was fix... the winer was know his wining
Khan May 17, 2013 04:27am
NA 250 does not consist of only defence neither defence represent Karachi, where were DHA residence when Karachi is bombed by Taliban why don't PTI chief condemn them why PTI workers do not take out rally over injustice to Karachi in the form of quota system, imported LEA, job share of Karachi youth, revenue Karachi generates and what it get back, land grabbing even DHA some phases are build on land grabbed by DHA. Recently in CJ found out that RS 88 billion worth of karachi land sold by KPT to DHA for 18 million rupees. where this money is gone?Have Imran ever talked about these issues?
Nadeem May 16, 2013 10:46pm
If we give up that easy, we have no one else to blame for why Karachi is a hostage to vested interests in all guises and shapes. Karachiites are much more resilient than that!
blister May 16, 2013 12:44pm
that is precisely why you should come out again, reclaim your vote and dont let anyone steal it. Change comes slowly. This was the first wave of realisation.
Shoaib May 17, 2013 02:27am
ali, I agree with you about the media focussing on just NA-250 is a bit disturbing, but you have to stop and think as to why? its because the electorate of NA-250 are the ones making their voices heard. They are using social media, their political clout and all such measures to make sure their votes count. Im sure if the people of Nawabshah came out in force and demand their rights, the media will have a story on them to satisfy your ego. However you have to realise most of the electorate in NA-250 form the remaining bit of the intellectual capital of the country and most of these people are part of the 1.7 million registered taxpayers of the country. So yes the media should focus on the electorate of NA-250, as they are the true taxpayers and hence are in their right to be heard. I suggest, you sit yourself down, do your civic duty and pay your taxes and then complain about not having a voice in this country. reference:
sri1ram May 17, 2013 02:56am
Brought tears to my eyes. Democracy is not a short term cure-all that heralds the arrival of a savior who can use a wizard-of-Oz wand and sweep all the rot and corruption. It is a long term, sustained, painful process of having at the least four to five peaceful transitions - and Democracy is what will gradually keep your own leaders more and more accountable and relatively honest. Indians are no nearer to keeping our leaders accountable than you Pakistanis, but at the least we are seeing the fruits of keeping at it in terms of raising 300 million middle classes from poverty and having more and more palpable development in terms of roads, infrastructure, healthcare etc. Just hoping and praying that this experiment of hope and exercising your right is again not snatched away from your hands by some wannabe usurper from you know which organization.
Sajjad Khan May 17, 2013 05:41am
Karachi has close to 20 million inhabitants and its comical to think that few tens of thousands of DHA residents will usher in the so called tsunami of change and lead the millions of downtrodden to the land of milk and honey. If DHA residents are truly pro-change then I would rather they start by paying their due taxes. Pakistan is in this dire condition exactly because of the people representing such localities be they in Karachi, Lahore or DHA Timbuktu. I would also like to ask the author of this article if change has also come to NA-248 or he or she is not concerned with that part of Karachi?. Lets face it the tennis bat could not face a regulation ball and split in two.Slogans and hollow promises can only take you so far.
Ahmed May 17, 2013 03:03am
how about some focus on rural and urban Punjab? Where you have more constituencies than Pakistan combined
Ahmed May 17, 2013 03:06am
very aptly put, for the entire Election Day, the media focused on NA-250 while Mian Sahib won the election, what hypocrisy and nepotism.
Dawar Naqvi May 16, 2013 02:34pm
What a country needs to do is be fair to all its citizens - whether people are of a different ethnicity, political parties or different religious beliefs. Election commission of Pakistan was covering up its own failures by announcing re-polling at only 43 polling stations of NA-250 constituency on May 19th. Why only in 43 polling stations, it should be in all polling stations of the particular constituency. This is absolutely unfair and prejudicial. Complains were submitted of late polling was from all over NA-250 not just only 43 polling stations. People must accept MQM mandate. Hate against urdu speaking Pakistani should be stopped. Four province and five domicile, this is from constitution of Pakistan (73) by Bhutto. 73 constitution separated us from others.