I am a common man and I am contesting in the elections
My name is Mohammad Jibran Nasir. I am 26-years-old and a lawyer by profession having completed my LLB followed by an LLM. I finished my studies in 2010 and upon my return to Pakistan after my two year stay in the UK, I started my first philanthropic venture, “Pehla Qadam“ (first step).
Pehla Qadam was a flood relief camp I set up in Karachi with another friend to generate Rs100, 000 in a month so that the same may be donated towards relief efforts. At the end of that month we had collected funds and donations in kind worth over Rs10 million.
We had reached out to 4, 500 flood affected families in 10 different cities of Pakistan with one week’s worth of food supplies. That two-member camp turned into an organisation of 200 willing and dedicated volunteers. Out of the Rs10 million we collected, 99% was donated by individuals as opposed to corporate entities.
That month was my first introduction to the will of the common man, the ordinary citizen of Pakistan.
The experience not only gave me the confidence in the youth of this nation but also burdened my shoulders with the responsibility of continuing my efforts in whatever capacity possible for the social welfare of my countrymen.
I felt that burden because I realised that this country had given me everything – my birth in a decent hospital, my polio drops, my school education, my college education, my friends, my job, experience, exposure, my love for food, my love for cricket, roads to drive on, parks to walk in, malls to shop at, a language to speak, an anthem to sing and an identity to own.
All these amenities and facilities were made possible because of the will, hard work and investment of my fellow countrymen in this country.
But what had I given it in return? And why hadn’t I given anything in return?
If I was telling myself that the reason I mind my own business is because I cannot bring any positive change in society, then my experience with the flood camp had proved me wrong.
Since then I have been involved with various charities as a volunteer or have as an individual contributed towards relief work. I, with my very limited means but the support of my generous friends and fellow citizens of Karachi, have managed to sponsor surgeries, child care, school books and bags for the underprivileged. I have volunteered at protests against ethnic and sectarian violence.
The reason I am sharing these experiences is not to blow my own trumpet but to inform the reader that I, by the grace of God, was exposed to these various environments to develop the perspective I have today.
The perspective that all I have been doing so far has been damage control. It has been a remedial relief and that is all that one can possibly do as an individual or a private organisation.
We need to change our mindset, our laws, our policies and our education curriculum to develop a new positive thinking for the Pakistan of tomorrow. I want the generation after mine to grow up in a relatively mature, civilised, tolerant and peaceful Pakistan, and this change will come from the top.
If our lawmakers and legislators can pass a law which increases their benefits as MPAs/MNAs and makes those benefits available to them life-long then I am pretty sure that they with a five-year term can also develop, amend and reform laws which would benefit the Pakistan at large.
Our politics is only as dirty as our politicians. Our parliament is only as ineffective and corrupt as our parliamentarians. The resources, powers and tools the office of a parliamentarian has are immense and sacred. Unfortunately our parliamentarians do not realise its true worth.
If the hunger, poverty, injustice, illiteracy and the tyranny in my country cannot change the mind of the parliament for the better, then it is better that we change the parliamentarians.
My degrees are original, my taxes are paid, my assets have been declared, I have paid all government dues, I have no unpaid loans from any bank, I don’t have any criminal conviction, I am also not roaming around on bail and I do not have a dual nationality.
I have filed my nomination papers from NA-250 and PS-113 as an independent candidate. I am a middle class man who has lived all his life till date in a rented accommodation. My father is currently out of employment with limited savings. I know the fear of not knowing how I will be paying my bills a few months from now.
My personal total savings were Rs25,000 which I have put in my election fund. In the quest to see how far a common man can go to take ownership of the problems of his country, I have already risked my job and given the intolerance in our politics. I, in the words of my parents and friends, am risking my life. I, with the support and criticism of my friends and the readers, have decided to overcome my fears.
My question to you is that if I as a common man can risk it all to contest elections and endeavour to bring change through the electoral and democratic process, why cannot you risk a day and come out on election day and vote, regardless whoever you may wish to vote for?
To the youth, this is your country. It is about time you start taking interest and start being a stakeholder.
Your ignorance is worse than any drone, any terrorist attack and any corruption. Pakistan Zindabad!
PHOTOS: JIBRAN NASIR
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.