You voted and you won!

Published: May 13, 2013
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Moving on, there is more that needs to be done, and you are going to be the catalyst for change, not the party in power. PHOTO: FILE

Dear Pakistan,

When you walked into the polling booth, you didn’t vote for an individual party or a candidate; you voted for Pakistan. Congratulations on winning!

This was one of the bloodiest electoral contests in memory, yet you persisted.

The past five years for you were engulfed with markers of dissonance: The unforgettable lawyer’s movement, the NRO crisis that threw the nation in turmoil, Salman Taseer’s unfortunate murder, the Abbottabad fiasco, Memogate and the expulsion of Ambassador Haqqani, the atrocity at Sallala and the resulting NATO supply route blockade, the disqualification of former prime minister Gilani, Malala’s shooting and the subsequent outpour of sympathy from leaders across the world, along with the murder of countless Hazaras, Shias and other religious and ethnic minorities. Missing from this list are the narratives of the victims of the blasphemy law, acid attacks, and thousands of others who suffered and died.

We’ve been through much lately, no?

Nonetheless, the elections galvanised the nation and for that, you deserve credit.

You overcame, and voted – in droves.

Moving on, there is more that needs to be done, and you are going to be the catalyst for change, not the party in power. You are going to demand more on the various fronts we lack vitality in, education, economy, and security being the most important, but don’t forget to ask for those who lack voices in our system. We’re falling behind on a number of factors with respect to our neighbours, so now you’re going to have to contribute.

Reach across the border, and demand constructive ties with India; trade and bilateral talks will naturally follow. After all, it’s in our collective interest. Ties with India in the past couple of years have ebbed and flowed. We signed visa agreements last year, relaxed barriers to trade but what followed were months of cross border skirmishes. No longer can we afford a pause in our relationship.

2014 is fast approaching, which means Afghanistan will once again be left to its own. This is an opportunity to help a crumbled economy recover from years of warfare, so don’t let the chance slip. It’s an area of focus that is vital to our foreign policy, so act with prudence and measure. And no, there’s no such thing as the Pincer Movement stop with the hysteria, it does more harm than good.

Resist the forces of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)  and other militant outfits with resolve. Whatever your affiliation, realise that militancy is your enemy, not your neighbour who may be a member of another party or religion. Militancy is a parasite eating at the image of this country. On that note, your own laws reflect poorly on your image.

Don’t you think that with the talk of change and reform, the vaguely phrased blasphemy law needs to be scrapped?

Oh, and if you find the time, please get #FreeSherry trending as an ambassador, she is a victim of that same blasphemy law that brought shame to your name with the cases of Aasia Bibi and Rimsha Masih.

And most importantly, learn to question your leaders. Set a strong precedence so that others be warned before they mistreat the sanctity of the nation’s governing doctrine.

Here’s a story from the Humans of Karachi Facebook page that really reflects your hidden spirit embrace it.

 “An old baba comes out after casting his vote grinning toothlessly. ‘Kiss ko vote diya?’ (Who did you vote for?)

Shouts someone from the crowd waiting their turn. Hands up in the air he shouts, ‘Pakistan ko beta!’” (Child, I gave my vote to Pakistan)

That is precisely what you did today. You voted and you won!

Read more by Hamza here.

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Hamza Mannan

Hamza Mannan is a freelance writer and his work has appeared across various newspapers.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.