As goes the famous Paulo Coelho line, a mistake repeated more than once is a decision. That being so, have we decided? This is what we, the Pakistanis, have to decide once and for all. Are we not tired of our tendency to repeat our mistakes? Or are we too tired to even learn from our mistakes?

Mistakes happen. We all make them. It is part of what makes us human, but humans also tend to learn from those mistakes and try not to repeat them. Why can’t we do that? In the absence of learning and avoiding the ghosts of the past, awful consequences have to be faced. The current uncertainties – both political and economic – may well be seen in that context as well. Perhaps that is the only context in which we should see them.

As things happen, a large number of fresh voters, the young adults, become stakeholders in deciding how the country shall be governed by casting their votes in favour of this candidate or that. Generally speaking, the voters are not very informed because they don’t know the difference between the candidates in their constituencies and the policy stance of the political parties they represent. Most votes, as such, are cast on the basis of emotional slogans rather than rational reasoning. As individuals, we can start by taking off our blinkers and blinders. Instead, we shall take interest in being informed voters.

A government that comes to power on the basis of such informed voting will have to deliver because it will have to take the electorate seriously. It will have to put the house in order. It will have to take care of, say, the state-owned enterprises (SOEs), like Pakistan Railways, Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Post and many others, including Pakistan Steel Mills. Restruc-turing and reforms in the sector will have to be executed or else the government will feel the heat of the informed electorate.

When that starts happening, the grip of feudalism will begin to loosen and over time this deep-rooted menace will be rendered ineffective in national politics.

Many of the people are unaware even today that the Constitution has granted them the right to information. Every citizen has the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law. One can obtain the details of information and expenditure from public offices incurred during the fiscal year and other related information.

This in effect means that the electorate can keep an eye on the government even between any two electoral exercises. But we do not make use of that facility.

Left to their own devices, politicians and kingmakers have a field day. And what do they do? They keep repeating the mistakes of the past, leaving the electorate to face the consequences. To wait for the politicians to change is a passive approach to turn things around. People can start with themselves by

being informed and rational. Let’s do it.

Taha Soomro
Karachi

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2022

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