At a time when close to 46 million young voters — a majority of whom use social media — are expected to play a pivotal role in determining the outcome of the general elections, the leaders are being put to task for their actions — or the lack of it.
On Wednesday, former Sindh chief minister Murad Ali Shah’s visit to his constituency in Sehwan did not go as planned as he had to face tough questions from disgruntled residents, as seen in a viral video doing the rounds on social media.
As Mr Shah stepped out of his residence, a constituent questioned him what he had done for the people. “My father was an ardent Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) worker but you did nothing for us,” he asserted. Mr Shah tried to avert the question but the man kept insisting for an answer.
“No matter what the ‘pro-democracy’ and ‘pseudo-liberals’ say about such incidents, I feel this is a VERY good sign of a maturing democracy when the voters know the value of their vote and should in EVERY way (without taking law in their hand)question their reps #Pakistan #Democracy,” tweeted a user.
Unable to get a chance to speak, the former chief minister walked off and even asked a journalist making a video of the incident to stop doing so. However, when the journalist did not listen, he hit the camera with his hand.
This is not an isolated instance of public grilling by constituents in the run-up to #Elections2018, making it certain that this time the [young] voters will have their leaders held accountable and have their voice heard through social media.
On June 24, former federal minister Sikandar Bosan received a similar welcome during his visit to his home constituency of Multan for election campaigning. Footage of the incident shows citizens pointing out that Mr Bosan didn’t even have a single road paved in the area, offering to take him on a tour of the constituency to show its state.
The former minister was seen wiping the sweat off his forehead, as the residents gave him a reality check.
“Best stuff out of social media recently is voters demanding more from the previously elected reps. Well done,” commented Alia Chughtai.
Another video went viral on Twitter showing a group of youngsters in Dera Ghazi Khan embarrassing Jamal Leghari, son of former president of Pakistan Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari, with pointed questions.
Mr Leghari replied he was in the neighbourhood to pay condolences. “There have been many deaths in the last five years, where were you then?” asked locals. “Have you ever wondered why your constituents are upset?”
“Finally it seems the impact of TV Talk shows is showing. News from all over are that politicians are scared of going to their constituencies as their voters are asking them uncomfortable questions and it is clear that you must earn your vote now,” wrote another user on Twitter.
Last Friday, a PPP leader also faced the wrath of party supporters as he visited his constituency.
During a visit to his hometown of Kashmore, Sardar Saleem Jan Mazari was stopped by angry protesters. According to a video doing the rounds on social media, the former MPA was being grilled by young people about the state of affairs in the area.
Similarly, in Muzaffargarh a corner meeting turned awkward after Sardar Ashiq Khan Gopang — who recently joined the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf — went to his constituency to seek votes. During the meeting, a young student came close to the stage where Mr Gopang was speaking and first snatched the microphone from him and then asked him where he had been in the last five years and why he had come now. The youngster also spoke to the audience for a while amid clapping and sloganeering.
“I swear I will attend monthly meetings with the public here,” said the veteran politician while admitting that his absence was a “blunder”.
With the practice of questioning leaders becoming frequent, politicians are feeling hesitation appearing before the public.
“Five years ago before #2013Elections not many people got smartphones in Pakistan. Now majority got one with [mobile] data and can share videos instantly with millions of voters. #SocialMedia will play a bigger role as compared to ElectronicMedia during next 30 days,” read a tweet.
Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2018