Last week was municipal elections-week in the Ontario province of Canada, where the majority of Pakistani candidates running for various offices continued their losing streak.
Only two Pakistani candidates emerged victorious in the polls, whereas hundreds of others did literally nothing but blabber and distribute their pamphlets all over the place.
Most of these candidates suffered from a glaring deficiency in English language skills and in their knowledge of the Canadian system. Many seemed utterly indifferent towards the problems in their constituencies, and had no recourse but to play up already familiar topics to scrape up a handful of votes.
Not only did they plan their election campaigns poorly, but several of them were also involved in personal conflicts with other Pakistani candidates.
In many areas, several Pakistanis filed their nomination papers from a single constituency, effectively dividing the Pakistani vote several times.
It is fair to say, then, they had it coming.
Pakistani candidates running for offices in Canada are no more an unprecedented feat. Every four years, a large number of Pakistanis – never seen before in any community meet-up – show up from nowhere, and portray themselves as ‘peoples’ representative’.
Many a candidate get their pamphlets printed from Pakistan as early as a year before the elections, and transport them to Canada with their luggage. When these flyers are distributed among people, the poor chaps are clueless about the candidate, because these candidates neither engage, nor serve the community, and hence remain unknown to a large number of people.
Indian Canadians also compete in the elections, but in contrast to Pakistanis, their success ratio is higher as they make efforts to engage with their community. On the other hand, Pakistani candidates are confined only to photo sessions for local Urdu newspapers, association with Pakistani political parties, and seeking vote on the basis of caste and clan.
Pre-poll surveys this year showed that the victory of Pakistani candidates was highly unlikely, as the results later proved. The causes for this are not too hard to comprehend.
I asked one Pakistani candidate, ‘what is your manifesto?’, only to be hear this shameless reply:
‘Umm… I am jobless nowadays… I’ve heard that the councilors have handsome remuneration, so I am trying my luck there...’
These candidates include a Pakistani grocery store owner of my area as well. The lies on his website were traced and duly rebuked by his Canadian rivals – what a defamation of our country.
There was another candidate, a self-proclaimed business tycoon from Sialkot, Pakistan. Having no experience of business, literature, and politics, this man has made a mockery of Pakistan overseas.
This business tycoon, named Riazuddin, is also known as Malik Riaz of Mississauga.
The election flyer of this candidate was printed in Pakistan. The flyer reads that Mr. Riazuddin has been member of chambers of commerce in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Britain, Australia, Sweden, France, Netherlands, and has served as vice president at Chamber of Commerce in Sialkot, Pakistan.
It does not end here.
The pamphlet further reads that he has represented Pakistan Export Promotion Bureau in several countries of the world, and that he did MA in Political Science from Punjab University, and availed commission in Pakistan Army.
When results were announced, he secured far more votes than expected – a little less than one per cent of total vote.
In a developed country as Canada, and in times so tense that even the name of Pakistan is enough to scare an otherwise happy and courageous human being, such lies and remorselessness brings only more defamation.
Mississauga has the largest population of Pakistanis in Ontario. One of the Pakistani voters told me that he doesn’t vote for Pakistani candidates because they are more often than not busy in pulling each others’ legs.
Running for an office without serving is a common feat in Pakistan, and it has no bearing on the candidate's odds for winning. But when in Canada, expect no such perks.
Here, voting is done solely on the basis of service. But several candidates who gather donations in name of welfare organizations, run for office again and again with no credit on their portfolio.
There’s a candidate in Mississauga, who is taking part in elections for the past several decades. What motivates him to run for an office every 4 years is a huge collection of photographs, in which he is seen next to some influential Pakistani politicos.
Perhaps he will make it to Guinness Book of World Record for losing the most elections.
About another Pakistani candidate, the story goes that he used his decades-old picture for the election campaign. His wife ended up mistakenly voting for someone else. Can you blame her?
As soon as they launch their election campaigns, the many personal conflicts among these candidates make it to prominent newspapers and TV channels.
We are supposed to be ambassadors of our nation in foreign countries, aren’t we?
Strikingly different from them, a young Pakistani named Zeeshan Hamid has been elected as councilor for the second time in Milton, a town home to Pakistanis in Canada.
Zeeshan’s services for the community are evident, so he secured the vote, even then his Pakistani rivals tried hard to make him lose.
As per law, the candidates are allowed to have their banners up till up to three days after polling. Zeeshan Hamid’s banners were removed by his rivals way before polling.
Feels like Pakistan doesn’t it?
Graceful and humble, Zeeshan Hamid thanked his rivals for assisting him in the removal task which otherwise would have cost him time and energy.
Only two Pakistani candidates won throughout the province of Ontario. The support of Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis alike paved the way for their victory. Do I have to mention again that support in Canada is only possible in exchange of service?
The other candidate is Max Khan, who succeeded from the Oakville city. He too was elected for the second time.
In Toronto, a large number of Pakistanis and Indians live in Thorncliffe Park area. This area is also dubbed as the Islamic Republic of Thorncliffe. About 30,000 Pakistanis and Indians reside here, of which 10,000 vote. But due to blame game and conflicts within, not a single Muslim won from this little Islamic Republic.
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Whenever elections are around the corner, local Urdu papers see their businesses see their revenues spike up. But many Pakistani candidates have also mastered the evasion of advertisement bills just like they do back in the homeland.
An editor of a local Urdu weekly said that most of the candidates were frivolous; many ran for the office only to be highlighted in the media, or for the publicity of their business.
My pal Zalim Jalalpuri grieves the fact that there are over 400,000 Pakistanis in Ontario, but their representation is negligible.
There are hundreds of associations and organisations working in Canada in the name of Pakistan, and are effectively reserved only to paperwork.
Pakistanis in Ontario don't require a fake Malik Riaz but a real Malik Riaz who can serve the country well instead of being a load of embarrassment for the country.
Translated by Bilal Karim Mughal from the original in Urdu here.