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Everyone everywhere is watching Pakistan


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I was listening to the radio in my car here in London a few days ago, the phone-in was called, ‘Pakistan – is it on its last legs?’ People were ringing in, angry, irate, despondent and confused. The presenter said, ‘Is this the end of Pakistan as we know it?’

I shouted at the radio “No! Someone save it!”

Pakistan has become like a drowning dog. It’s paddling on the surface, constantly being knocked about by bigger dogs, it’s screaming for help, but the only things that come to its aid are untrustworthy rottweiler’s.

I remember being in Pakistan during election time. All I saw were huge pictures of all the male candidates hanging all over the streets and buildings and how they all looked very similar – hairstyles drowned in barrels of cooking oil, moustaches that looked like Persian rugs, and speeches that made promises like Father Christmas.

My parents always voted. Well my dad did, my mum was always cooking. Growing up, I never knew what it meant to vote. I didn’t know why people did it, or why it was important. I just thought it was something you had to do if you liked someone in charge.

The old people’s home round the corner from where we lived was always our local polling station.

I realised voting was a good idea when my school turned into a polling station and I got to have the day off.

I starting voting late in life, I was previously apathetic and thought, ‘No one will care if I don’t vote, it won’t change anything’.

The first time I voted, I went to the polling station in the afternoon. It was quiet, and there was an old man and woman sitting at the desk in the Church Hall asking for my name and address. They gave me a slip of paper on which I had to put some crosses in the boxes of the people I wanted to vote for. I did it, put the paper in the box and walked out.

It felt good. I felt like I’d had my say, and I had the right to have my say, and no matter if people would listen or not, I had voiced something.

It is a crime that on 11th May 2013, 11million eligible women in Pakistan will not be able to vote because authorities have not granted them ID cards. Also, some clerics believe that a woman voting for a man they don’t know is un- Islamic.

In some tribal areas these women don’t work, don’t go shopping, can’t read or write and now, they can’t vote. So what’s the point of them getting out of bed in the morning? Oh yes, to cook clean and breed. To these men everything is un-Islamic. Being a woman, blowing your nose, scratching your armpit – it’s all-un-Islamic. That’s why if you can vote you must, so that maybe one day women don’t have to live under medieval thinking, rule bending, women hating animals like these.

Some people might not vote because they’ve been worn down over the years. Disillusioned by false hope, lack of trust and above all constant corruption – Pakistan loves a bit of corruption like my mum loves a bit of a gossip.

The corrupt will never want democracy. They want to hold on to their six homes, 12 bank accounts, continue money laundering through Swiss bank accounts, filling their bags with gold bullion whilst their people are starving. It’s no surprise then that the ordinary people might think ‘Oh what’s the point?’

Now what’s different is that this spectacle called Pakistan also known in the west as The Rocky Horror Show has got a huge audience. Everyone everywhere is watching. This week people who know nothing about Pakistan have been sending me pictures of Pervez Musharraf saying, “Do you know this man?”

I replied, “Why? Is he single?”

“No. Apparently he’s a murderer!”

Everyone’s watching, so everyone must play their part. Even if you think it doesn’t matter, no one listens; my vote probably won’t be counted, the corrupt will win anyway, I’m a woman – who cares what I think? Just vote. Even if it’s for the adventure of going to the polling station and staring at the line up of hot male candidates with greasy hair. ————————————————————————————————— The author is an award winning stand-up comedian and writer. She has performed all over the world. A columnist for The Guardian UK, she was named Columnist of the Year at the prestigious PPA Awards. Find out more from her website. ————————————————————————————————— The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Shazia Mirza is an award winning stand-up comedian and writer. She has performed all over the world. A columnist for The Guardian UK, she was named Columnist of the Year at the prestigious PPA Awards. Find out more from her website. Follow her on Twitter @shaziamirza1.

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

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Comments (44) Closed

Apr 30, 2013 06:11pm

It makes feel like a patriot to NRI & NRPs to cry while seating in UK-US-Canada about how bad India & Pakistan are doing & predict they are about to vanish. No intented to question why did they left the troubled motherland to settle down in the countries which are happy to see us troubled. But such blogs tells nothing but what my country see day in day out. What we people (who still hanging there) can do is to take care of our next generation, enable them to do what we could not. we all know there are lot of things what we could have done.

Apr 28, 2013 08:15am
All the guys in the club They are watching us But do we need to bother or be alarmed?
Apr 28, 2013 08:13am
You are a learned man - you know what she is writing about. I thought,it was all incoherent.
Apr 28, 2013 07:57pm
if you don't like her article why did you click on the link?
Apr 28, 2013 07:27am
Good one! Shazia, keep writing on Pakistan. We need to see Pakistan light heartedly sometimes.
Apr 28, 2013 11:10am
Y its disgrace to call himself a pakistani...Have you ever done something for your country ???? very shame to hear it
Apr 28, 2013 11:12am
Totally agree. I cant even understand why shazia mirza writes. Extremely superficial stuff with almost no deep knowledge of any culture. Im surprized at her knowledge of even UK. Anyone who has lived 10 years in UK nomatter where you were born should know more and better.
Apr 28, 2013 08:06pm
Excellent article. I may be wrong but I firmly believe that the end of civilization of Pakistan is very near. The Nukes of Pakistan can save Pakistan from external enemies but not enemies within Pakistan. The only possible solution is another army general like Pervez Musharraf to take over Pakistan on a temporary basis, elimate every single enemy of Pakistan, specially those militants and terrorists who wish to impose their will on 180 million Pakistanis. If Pakistan has to remain a democratic country, the true democracy is a govenment by people through their elected representatives and not dictated by militants and terrorists.
Apr 29, 2013 11:46am
Apr 27, 2013 12:01pm
Ok.. I appreciate your writing this article.. But what exactly are you writing about? About people watching Pakistan? Or about elections? Or about being a woman in Pakistan? I mean.. those are all worthy topics to write on.. and you should! But in a more coherent way! Anyway.. I know what you mean! Lets hope we can give the world a good show. Plus, the rocky horror was fun! haha
Apr 27, 2013 12:06pm
I agree with you, its my right/duty/responsibility (whatever u call) to vote for MY country. I am going to vote :).
Apr 27, 2013 12:13pm
Yeah we should vote because the foreigner says so. Voting is a total waste of time.
Apr 27, 2013 12:24pm
My first time. And I will vote, even if its just to annoy these mullahs.
Apr 27, 2013 12:56pm
I protest at the portrayal of Rottweilers as untrustworthy!
Apr 27, 2013 01:29pm
I used to be apathetic about voting too until a friend knocked some sense into me. The point is, if you or your neighborhood or your community doesn't vote then no politician would care about you because you are not worth their time. So go out and VOTE even if you don't know any candidates. Be prepared the next time around.
Apr 27, 2013 01:36pm
I guess you are right. Is this is what Jinnah had in mind ? to take a handful of corrupt muslims, thrust them on the masses and let them run the country. I think we were better off under the British rule and would have been better off under the Indian rule. It is a disgrace to call yourself a Pakistani, no wonder a lot of my colleagues from back home now call themselves transplanted Indians never a Pakistani.
Armaghan Faisal
Apr 27, 2013 01:46pm
The last para is the only thing u hav writen well..... Else one feels like listenining to an immature person. U seem quite influenced by funny stories and TIME magazine stuff.
Apr 27, 2013 02:27pm
Enough of merciless rich politicians and poor helpless people, I have just been to Pakistan and when I see common poor people violating every social and moral norm by the minute I just dont feel any sympathetic anymore. Poor can only complain about rich when they have some (not high) moral ground to stand upon.
Apr 27, 2013 03:17pm
Your vote counts, it matters. Learn to vote for the RIGHT person. Otherwise sit home. Do your research think who is the best candidate.
Apr 27, 2013 03:19pm
Is voting a religious issue?
Apr 27, 2013 03:20pm
Pakistan had a woman PM so how come women r not allowed to vote
Apr 27, 2013 04:11pm
me 2... rotties r nice dogs like pitts
Apr 27, 2013 04:41pm
Very poor write-up.
Apr 27, 2013 07:00pm
Then you have absolutely no right to complain. People like yourselves deserve absolute dictatorship
Apr 27, 2013 07:04pm
Great. Go and vote.
Apr 28, 2013 06:55pm
Your article is as usual very interesting. Sad part is that those who killed BB are walking freely and Musharraf is being blamed for providing security. What a justice or injustice. Lal Masjid brigade played havoc in Islamabad, now they are being portrayed as innocent and government took action against them and Musharraf is being blamed. It is really very sad.
Apr 28, 2013 06:52pm
Very true. Some traditional corrupt will win again and again. Sad story.
Apr 28, 2013 12:25am
Shazia, you are really great. I wait for your column to appear everyday in Dawn. Love it. 'Hot male candidates with greasy hair' - looking at Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan did not feel that, however when you see Bilawal and Asif, you are on the spot on.
Apr 28, 2013 03:07pm
Apr 28, 2013 03:03pm
My dear when you spend your whole life constantly in this situation you'll also become like them, don't apply drawing room sense on the ones who have never seen it. Poor are not poor just because they are destined to be like that, it is the voilation of laws by the elite and access of right which is denied by the rich. Don't see with a single eye, try to use both of them.
Apr 28, 2013 04:13am
I agree. America, China and Saudi Arabia have all come to Pakistan's aid. They have all been very loyal to Pakistan.
Apr 28, 2013 04:36am
this is also my first time,and i m going to cast my vote INSHALLAH
Apr 28, 2013 05:20am
This will be the first time but will vote for a change.
Shahzor Ahmad
Apr 28, 2013 05:40am
Why does Shazia Mirza always have to fill her article with a needlessly prolonged beating about the bush and a few cheap jokes sprinkled here and there. One is often left wondering what she wanted to say in the article at all. You can do much better than that, Mirza.
Naresh Sharma
Apr 28, 2013 10:29am
First time in my life I will cast my Vote to... Mr. Modi!!!
Apr 29, 2013 12:01am
Looks like, you haven't seen the poor helpless common people. Just those who pretend to be poor helpless people, waiting to fool people like you. Tell me where in Pakistan did you visit. Did you visit the defense colonies, Clifton, Gulberg, Islamabad,... or did you visit Bado mali, khota qabar, katchi abadis.... or just television?
Apr 29, 2013 12:04am
You better renounce your Pakistani citizenship. We don't want you.
Apr 29, 2013 12:07am
Hiding the truth is like telling the wrong stuff. Not using your vote for the right is like helping the wrong uns.
Apr 29, 2013 12:09am
Dictatorship of the Rottweilers.
Apr 29, 2013 12:54am
One sentence summed it up the entire existence of women in this society: To get up early morning to cook, clean and breed.. Ms Mirza may be if you live for couple of months in a shanty town of Pakistan and see the abuse may be you can add some more one liners like this.. Keep it up..
Apr 29, 2013 04:05am
Would you share with us, the top "one point" that is persuading you to cast your vote to Mr. Modi?
Apr 29, 2013 04:08am
Really!! as if we care
Apr 29, 2013 04:55am
Pakistan is going through very hard times and elections are near so the whole worlds is watching Pakistan and what will be the results of elections so it will benefit to the other countries as well
Open Minded
Apr 29, 2013 05:48am
you forgot the fact that its not as easy as you say "go out and vote" because its Pakistan we are talking about! where you go on your own two feet BUT come back on others shoulders!