Dear leaders, we expect you to care this time
Despite the hardships of the past four months, we are engaged in the most momentous elections in Pakistan’s brief democratic history.
For once, this nation is echoing a uniform concern: who is worthy of shaping the next five years of our future? And as we arrive at the answer to this question independently, something has changed.
Our expectations from the next government of Pakistan have changed; our standards for what we will settle for in the next half decade have changed.
To the future government of Pakistan, elected into power on May 11, 2013, I want to say:
You are more than merely a body of elected officials. You represent a turning point in the history of this country. We demand that you listen to our voice. Stop watching in silence as our journalists and social workers are targeted. Give us true freedom of speech. Stop ignoring our demands, from unbanning YouTube to reducing electricity load-shedding.
Let us know what a better standard of life feels like. Answer us when we question why you let drone attacks kill civilians up north. Satisfy us when we ask for an end to inefficient, corrupt governance of Balochistan as religious minorities perish year after year. We will not settle unless you recognise yourself as lawful servers of the nation. Live like the average citizen. Understand that you do not have the right to disrupt millions of lives by jamming traffic every time you decide to cross a street with your VIP security protocol.
Accept that you must pay your taxes like you ask the rest of us to, so that you feel the need to see this tax revenue translate into facilities for your people. Stop buying land illegally and laundering money out of the country in your hidden bank accounts at the expense of thousands who starve to make ends meet. Feel the pain of your nation as if it is your own, so that you want to do something about it.
We are adamant that you put your country first, before everything else, before religion and kin and diplomacy and political ties. Stop addressing the members of your political party every time you make a speech. Address the entire population, including the Shias and the Ahmadis and the Hindus and the Christians.
Understand that before every other kind of affiliation, comes our nationality.
No matter what ethnicity or religion we identify with, we are all Pakistani. Give every citizen the right to live freely, without fear of persecution.
Be strong enough to fight your own causes. Work to stand on your own feet, without leaning on foreign political powers or extremist fundamentalists to serve your interests, only to have it all backfire in the face of your people. Make your decisions, and stop degrading yourself in the eyes of the world, and most importantly your own people.
Set some example, some precedence of justice. We are tired of watching our comrades die without any hope of an impartial investigation. We are sick of knowing that every time we get hurt, there will be no one to point our finger at, no punishment, and no reprimand. Erase the contempt of law, for which you yourself remain the worst offender. Let your people know what security feels like. Let the next national hero be someone other than another martyred innocent you could not save.
And when we criticise you, talk back; make it transparent, responsive, and accountable. Remind us that you are one of us, and be honest with us as to what the reality of our state is. Guide us in how we can serve this nation, instead of leaving us in the dark, fighting our way out of misery alone and abandoned.
We will assist you. We will stand by you, if you give us something to stand for. We are tired of being lied to. Do not deceive us as every one of your predecessors has.
Stop considering the military your back up plan for running this country. Stop using Islam as a tool to achieve political agendas. Stop watching us die from your heavily guarded forts.
Stop doing nothing.
As citizens of this country on the brink of casting our ballot, we have once again assumed responsibility for the fate of this country. It is time you reciprocate the sentiment.
It is time you share this responsibility, dear leaders.
Read more by Areeba here.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.