It doesn’t matter, unless you vote

Published: December 6, 2010

PPP’s leaders claim to have brought back democracy in Pakistan and consider it their achievement.

WikiLeaks has proven that the US is more involved in our domestic political affairs than we are. The hypothesis that no one can form a government in Pakistan without US support is correct.

The released documents also show that the most powerful institution in Pakistan – the Pakistan Army – also seeks the approval of the US before manipulating the political scenario in the country. These ground realities, however, do not fit well with the description of democracy – a political system that PPP’s leaders claim to have brought back in Pakistan.

“Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

These are the words of former US President Abraham Lincoln, but I believe in Pakistan’s case, these words can be revised to Democracy – of America, by America, for America.”

After all, we have borrowed the democratic form of government from them, just like hundreds of thousands of dollars. A lot of people in Pakistan are already unhappy, rather angry, with the policies of United States and I’m sure their blood pressures must have surged after reading about these reports.

But before we start criticising the US for its increased involvement in our domestic affairs, we need to ask ourselves one pertinent question: could they have interfered without our explicit or implicit approval? And by “our” I’m not referring to the political figures of Pakistan; I’m referring to the people of Pakistan.

The voter turnout ratio in Pakistan is 45 per cent and more than 75 per cent of that figure belongs to the rural areas. It means that less than half Pakistanis actually vote in elections. When more than half of the country has voluntarily given up its right to decide who rules their country, what gives them the right to criticise those who are ruling this country?

If we don’t want to have our say in who runs this country, why should we have a say in how this country is run?

I have seen people voting for parties that their father or grandfather voted for and it baffles me! I believe that we all should vote for the person who is better for our electorate. We need to remember that the character of the person we are voting for is far more important than the party that has issued the ticket to them. It is possible that a party has issued the ticket to a crook but just because I support that party’s manifesto, should I also be voting for the crook? By voting for the crook, I’m basically asking him/her to shred me.

An excuse I’ve heard from a lot of people is that “voting is not going to change anything”. In order to contest elections, one needs to have a lot of money and no one from the middle class can afford to pay for the election campaign. Thus, only those who have money can contest elections and become members of the parliament to vote on decisions that determine our fate.

I concede that contesting elections requires a lot of money and no one from the middle class can pay for it. But not all those who contest election are crooks; some are educated people, capable of doing good things.

We should vote for them. It doesn’t matter if the candidate we vote for wins or not. What matters is that if we cannot defeat the crooks, we should make it a tough fight. Let’s show the crooks that gone are the times when they could win with an overwhelming majority; the narrowed winning margin is our way of registering our protest. Remember: it doesn’t matter unless you vote!

Acknowledgment: The credit for  the line “it doesn’t matter unless you vote” goes to Waqas Qamar.


Omar Shahid

A business graduate who iworks at a marketing research firm. His interests include discussing socio-political affairs, networking and reading.

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

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