The power of the vote

April 25, 2013


We are all familiar with the stories about the power of voting. But in our country, this power has been suppressed so severely that those who actually possess it are in fact quite oblivious to it. Just like their other capabilities are suffocated the moment they are born, similarly, their power to vote begins to be snuffed out so severely that the poor masses have no control over it anymore. Although, there are always people who utilise this power for achieving their own means, providing the public with just enough information regarding the power to vote in order to manipulate that power in their favour whenever they need to.

Those who want your vote, never tell you about themselves, their background, ideology, thinking, manifesto, policy for the future because they don’t think it’s important. And why should they tell you any of their plans? When they get elected, they aren’t bringing the moon and stars down for you. They only want your vote on the basis of slogans and a picture or two.

Sometimes they bring forward the picture of Z. A. Bhutto and sometimes one of Benazir, while at other times Nawaz Sharif is hailed as the saviour of the nation. Now, it is Imran Khan who shows you dreams of impending change. That leaves our Bhai Sahab; it is his picture alone that wins him the votes. Neither do the parties have a specific program or manifesto that would attract people’s votes, nor do the people use their power to vote to achieve a certain purpose or show their support for a program. Everyone canvasses for votes with someone’s portrait picture hanging around their necks so they can at least look deserving of your vote.

People who had angled for your vote by hanging a certain picture around their necks in the past, have a different one hanging around their necks this time. If there is a time when you actually want to vote for the person, whose picture is hanging around someone’s neck, you still can’t trust them because after being elected, if they realise that there is little or no chance of them being appointed as minister, presto! The picture around their necks is switched once more.

But this time, those contesting the upcoming election are so ridden with uncertainty that despite showing the nation dreams of change and being a part of the top brass of their party, many high-profile candidates are also contesting elections as independent candidates, just in case they might have to change the picture around their necks at some point. An independent candidate is independent in every sense and can hang anyone’s picture around their neck whenever they want. The only condition is that they must be made a minister because merely sitting in the assembly and yawning is not worth the trouble of canvassing for vote.

It is also the power to vote that has left our Musharraf Bhai in a dilemma. He is neither here nor there, but remains stuck somewhere in limbo. Those who entered from the back door must return the same way. It appears that he was misled by his Facebook fans into thinking that he could attain power through people’s votes. His picture adorned the necks of many. Previously, he had the uniform as well as the throne. But now, he only has Facebook, which can’t really help him attain power.

If there is anyone who rules the roost over the social media, it is our Khan Sahab. Now his picture and that of Jinnah’s have become one and the same, as if Jinnah was reincarnated in the form of Khan Sahab. Those who show us dreams of change have now given the masses the good news by announcing that within three weeks, the public will be living in a new Pakistan. Well, I suppose we all can wait for three weeks. Faiz Sahab passed away saying “hum dekhengey” but now it looks like you and I will definitely see! Only three weeks to go now. I only hope that nothing happens before they are up.

Out of all those who claim that they allowed democracy to flourish in Pakistan in the last five years, our asli te vadey Chaudhry Sahab is the greatest of them all. He has also promised the public that he would ensure that fair and free election at any cost. Alongside the election, he also has other programs going on for the entertainment of the people with ‘Musharraf Part 2’ being the most successful nowadays. The only thing we fear is that the public might forget about the elections because of the engrossing entertainment being offered to them these days.

Mian Sahab and Khan Sahab are ignoring each other and are instead insisting that this time, it’s their turn to rule. If they keep this up, someone else might attain power instead. In any case, rumours have been heard that the real election is going to take place in our Punjab, because permission to hold the election in Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was not granted. Those who grant this permission have become two from one. One has been made responsible for killing, and the other is responsible for saving. The saviour’s turn comes after the killer kills and flees.

Amidst this commotion, those who are actually deserving of our votes are forced to turn back. Now they are watching the fight between Mian Sahab and Khan Sahab, just in case the fight might help them in some way. Otherwise, they don’t have anything either. They still think they can get votes in the name of the Benazir who they lost somewhere along the way during the last five years. In any case, the party isn’t of the people anymore. Now it belongs to those who are not the voters but the ones who go around requesting the voters to vote for them; always seen at a doorstep. This has been going on for years. Even this time, they are watching the door from where they have never been turned away empty-handed. The power of the vote and elections are just an excuse. The true power lies elsewhere and has always resided there. Reportedly, Pakistan was ‘obtained’ in the name of Islam, the emphasis being on obtained.

The election will take place whenever Chaudhry Sahab wishes. He has already been given the right to represent the people by the public. Even then, if he allows the election to happen, the credit shall be his entirely. He has never let others take credit before and it won’t be any different this time.

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The author has dabbled in every form of the visual arts. An activist to the core, Abro’s work deals with social themes and issues ranging from human rights to dictatorial regimes. He is currently working for DAWN as an illustrator.