The Pied Piper and the lost children

Published August 19, 2014
Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan (C) addresses the supporters during a protest march against the country's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led government in Islamabad on August 18, 2014. — Photo by AFP
Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan (C) addresses the supporters during a protest march against the country's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led government in Islamabad on August 18, 2014. — Photo by AFP

PESHAWAR: The young Peshawarites, who voted for Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in May 11 general elections think Imran Khan’s call for ‘civil disobedience’ is useless and the language he used during that address was very ‘uncivil’.

“I never expected that Imran Khan with his education and brought up would use such bad language,” said Yasir Afridi, who voted for PTI in the last general election along with his other family members.

“Not only me but all the 30 members of my family who voted for PTI, now regret to have voted for this party,” he said disappointedly.

The agenda of ‘change’ had mesmerised the youth in many parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The charismatic personality of former cricket star Imran Khan pulled crowds of youth whenever he liked to speak.

The number of youth, who enrolled in Tabdeeli Razakaar Programme of PTI before elections to propagate the party agenda, showed that how their expectations were raised. In the elections, people especially housewives who had not visited a polling station in their entire life also voted for bat, the election symbol of PTI.

PTI was voted into power in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa because its chairman had promised to bring change within 90 days if voted to power. One-and-a-half year later, after getting elected to power in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, nothing seems to have changed.

“The only thing that has changed is my opinion about PTI. That is a good change I guess,” said Irfan Ali, another youth from Swabi who voted for PTI in the previous elections.

While some show disappointment with the way PTI, especially its chairman, has treated the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, many who voted for ‘bat’ do not even like to remember now why they voted for PTI in the first place.

“I had lost my mind, I guess, when I voted for PTI,” retorted Saeed Khan, who voted for PTI because he liked cricket and was a big fan of Imran Khan. He thought that since Imran Khan had no history of corruption and was a young politician, he would be different from others.

“He is different all right but not the way I thought he was,” said Saeed, who vowed that he would never vote for PTI again.

Some housewives feel that it was good for them to support PTI in the elections as it helped them to clear their mind. “They won’t commit such a mistake again.”

Many of the PTI voters from Peshawar seem disappointed as according to them the province hasn’t witnessed any change but the speeches of Imran Khan since Aug 14 has made things clearer. Those who still love Imran Khan, the cricketer, have no reason for it.

“Don’t say anything against Imran Khan. I can’t explain but I like him too much,” said Rehman Wazir, a middle age voter of PTI.

Imran Khan during his recent Azadi March speeches proudly said that if there was a re-election in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the position of his party would be the same. However, reality is different. The disgruntled MPAs of PTI, who had formed a pressure group, had conveyed to the party’s chairman that how disappointing the performance of the PTI-led provincial government was.

A minister and an adviser to the chief minister were removed for ‘bad performance’ but it still didn’t make any difference. “The party should not expect winning the next general elections on the basis of its performance,” this was clearly conveyed by the pressure group to the chairman.

“I thought things would be different. We would get good jobs but look what is happening in Islamabad. What good in it is for us,” said Irfan, who feels Imran Khan just wants to become prime minister.

The people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa seem to have always shown a reactionary approach when it comes to voting political parties. The people here voted, tried and dumped Mutahidda Majlis-i-Amal, an alliance of the politico-religious parties in post- 9/11 scenario.

Then the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa voted for a nationalist political party in the province, which was and still is targeted for calling terrorist a terrorist.

The propaganda about its ‘corruption’ which started against it within the first few months of its rule also created mistrust among the people. The party lost badly because of bad performance but also because of ‘pre-poll rigging’ since its workers and leaders were targeted by terrorists during the election campaign.

Some people simply voted for PTI that there would be no more suicide attacks since it was not as anti-Taliban as Awami National Party. The people, who wanted a ‘change’ also voted for PTI. More than a year since it is in power, ‘Naya Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’ doesn’t look any different. It still has its problems as any other city of the country.

Like the Pied Piper of Hamlin who rid the city of mice but also ended up leading the children away into nothingness, the youth who voted PTI just because they had high hopes from Imran Khan look like the lost children.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2014

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