The status quo vs the dark knight – who is the right candidate for NA-247?

Published: July 8, 2018
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Being one of the biggest and formidable constituencies of Karachi, NA-247 enjoys a wide range of excellent candidates.

In the scorching heat of May 2013, my brother and I stood in line for eight hours straight at our designated polling station to vote for the one party we believed would bring revolutionary change for all of us – the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Perhaps if it hadn’t been for PTI, I wouldn’t have had the passion and resilience to believe in the power of my vote. Even though polling in NA-250 started later than the other constituencies of Karachi – a way to sabotage PTI’s vote back from this seat by the ruling party in the city at the time – nonetheless, I persevered and made sure I cast my vote for the bat on the ballot paper.

However, in my fervour of voting for PTI, I had missed out on getting to know the actual candidate for whom I was voting: Dr Arif Alvi. Even though he was one of the oldest members of the party, having founded it alongside Imran Khan and the rest, I was largely unaware of his merits and political acumen. It was the five years that ensued afterwards that made me realise how apt Dr Alvi was for this constituency.

Before we move forward, it is important to discuss the administrative dynamics that are prevalent in the area in question. Being a representative from NA-250 (now changed to NA-247) comes with its drawbacks. The MNA or MPA has to constantly deal with authorities like the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC), who are often directly responsible for implementing infrastructural changes in the area. Following up with these groups and making sure that grievances of citizens are addressed on time is often a Herculean task. But even with all these constraints, Dr Alvi was able to work for the electorate who voted him into power, by making sure he was on top of most major matters in his area.

Photo: Facebook/ Dr Arif Alvi

During his tenure, he was able to upgrade multiple primary and secondary level schools to cater for higher education by working on their infrastructure and facilitating the Department of Education. Additionally, he pushed for and implemented a swifter route for people to reach the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), making the hospital more accessible to all. Speaking of routes, Alvi’s advocacy was a prime factor behind the removal of barriers and opening of the road leading from Bilawal Chowrangi to Sea View, which was previously closed for public use.

Alvi ran multiple cleaning drives in Burns Road and adjacent areas, and mobilised cleaning trucks that would sweep the streets every morning. He also made sure that, in collaboration with city authorities, dumpsters and garbage disposal units were readily available in all areas for better hygiene. Perhaps the most important issue for people from his constituency is the availability of running water in the area; for this, he has hosted multiple protests and sit-ins in front of the CBC to make sure the water shortage was addressed.

Photo: Facebook/ Dr Arif Alvi

Keeping PTI’s general performance in mind, Dr Alvi has shown more merit and active participation in his constituency than most PTI MNAs. However, while his personal performance is riveting, I feel uncomfortable voting for him this year because of his affiliation with Imran and his party. PTI and its leaders have, time and again, made claims they were unable to stick to. Especially keeping in mind how we were promised a “Naya Pakistan, but all we have seen are old faces recycled under the new packaging of the PTI banner. This is not what real change looks like, and despite Dr Alvi’s performance, a vote for him would be a vote for PTI – and I cannot abide by that anymore.

So what happens next?

Do we simply let go of the idea of voting and enjoy a nice day off on Wednesday, July 25, 2018?

Not necessarily. Being one of the biggest and formidable constituencies of Karachi, NA-247 enjoys a wide range of excellent candidates who are standing for elections this year from this seat. Having this privilege, it would be a mistake to waste one’s vote. With powerhouses like Dr Farooq Sattar (Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan) and Ms Fauzia Kasuri (Pak Sarzameen Party) running from this seat, one enjoys many options to vote for – all of whom have enough political capital to implement effective change in the constituency.

And then there is, of course, Mr Jibran Nasir – Karachi’s knight in shining armour, and perhaps the one person who is truly worth my vote.

Mimicking a political career similar to Dr Alvi, who belonged to an established profession and fought against dictators like Ayub Khan to implement the rule of law, Nasir has also highlighted his efforts to fight against VIP culture, archaic policies and discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities. This strapping young human rights activist and lawyer has time and again shown resilience against the powers that be, and has used his voice to fight for the voiceless. His commitment to justice and equality for all resounds with my liberal beliefs, making him a prime choice for my vote.

Civil society activists led by Jibran Nasir lead a protest outside National Press Club. Photo: INP

From demanding the arrest of Abdul Aziz, the Lal Masjid cleric, after the gruesome Army Public School attack in 2014, to protesting against the chief minister and provincial government to ban extremist organisations from propagating their hatred, Nasir has shown his clear understanding of what Pakistan direly needs right now – a strong opposition to extremism in all forms and at all levels. The fact that he has been threatened by various extremist organisations, including a defamatory campaign run against him by Aamir Liaquat in 2017, and has often been questioned about his faith and religious leanings, shows he is doing something right. Only a true challenge to the status quo would elicit such strong reactions against him.

While both Dr Alvi and Nasir are excellent candidates, Nasir’s views and his liberal beliefs are incomparable; neither Dr Alvi nor his party can match them – not with his party’s current ideas and choice of alliances. Yes, Nasir is a one-man show and might not create a huge ripple effect even if he wins, but he is one of us, the common folks, and we all need to mimic his audacity to challenge the powers around us with nothing but courage and an unwavering trust in our constitutional rights. Voting for Nasir would be an investment into Pakistan’s future.

That is why my vote will go to Nasir this year. Better luck next time, PTI.

Faiq Lodhi

Faiq Lodhi

A journalism grad and news-buff, his interests include current affairs, arts, literature and social work. He tweets as @FaiqLodhi (twitter.com/FaiqLodhi)

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

  • Rocky_Babla

    Jibran Nasir is Asma Jahangir in making. Recommend

  • Parvez

    Good article with balanced reasoning ….. and yes Jibran is the future and we need more like him.Recommend

  • Stupid Intelligent

    I’d be surprised if even a thousand people vote for Jibran.

    Money always wins. Ideology is for the weak.Recommend

  • Zeeshan Khan

    People who think Jibran is a dark knight shall actually search about his history.. he is basically male version of Asma Jahangir…Recommend

  • Parvez

    So is that a good or a bad thing ?Recommend

  • Hashim Hasan

    A good article but it is important to vote for a team and not individuals. The reason being that individual fail to deliver because of lack of support. Dr Arif Alvi was only able to deliver because he was part of a team and continued to fight for the rights of his constituents. Whether one likes it or not, it is time to pick the right team if we want things done on a large scale.Recommend

  • Shahid Haq

    For honest liberal thinkers the choice is difficult. Jibran is the right person to be in the opposition but as a candidate he is a lost cause. Elections are not just a way of expressing ones views. We did it with the PTI last two times but it did not give us a channel to get the views implemented. Elections are a way of getting people in the right places to be able to do what you want done. People in the government need skills not just to protest but to be able to DO something concrete. That is where Arif Alvi scores much more than Jibran. So do not let your vote go to waste. Make it count. Vote for Arif Alvi.Recommend

  • ali

    Again Jibran Nasir is Asma Jahangir in makingRecommend

  • Faruque Ahmad

    typical example of a narrow vision. While agreeing that Jibran is a deserving candidate, what would he be able to do just as an independent MNA? You need to be in power to actually be able to make a change. Is it very difficult to understand?Recommend

  • Salman Khan

    Why vote for an untested dark knight when you already have a trusted capable candidate already in power? Like the majority of independent candidates, he too will eventually end up joining a political party after realizing he can’t accomplish anything significant alone!Recommend

  • ABKhan

    “Especially keeping in mind how we were promised a “Naya Pakistan”, but all we have seen are old faces recycled under the new packaging of the PTI banner.”

    So you thought naya pakistan means just new faces? You better vote for a new candidate every timeRecommend

  • Parvez

    Prepare yourself to be surprised ….. that’s funny because then it wouldn’t be a surprise. In 2013 when no one knew Jibran he got some 250 votes. Today, 5 years later with a fair amount of positive exposure he will do much better……and yes he does not have the deep pockets of his rivals but he has something they don’t have and that’s the guts to talk truth to power.
    Yes, most likely PTI will win ….. but it’s good to know that the likes of Jibran are there to balance the scales.Recommend

  • Noman Bughio

    He have Said He is Making a Party no matter the results Now He will be Contesting on Local Bodies Election with his Parties and people with like mindedness as HimRecommend

  • Syed A Zafar

    Well writing to write and comparing between two liberal elites is neither a solution for Pakistan nor it represents the majority of Pakistan. Both candidates are from wealthy families and posh areas of Karachi, and they are talking about democracy and equal rights for all. However, there is a big difference between these two candidates. The PPP which maintains and depends on false and deceptive slogans of Roti, Kapra aur Makan is represented, dominated and lead by feudal lords who are not sincere with the have nots of Pakistan. Because the falsely propagated impression that feudalism/elitism and the have nots of Pakistan are one and meant for each other is the biggest lie and political gimmickry. It is unnatural realtion. Rich and poor especially those filthy rich of Pakistan who never worked hard to earn their living and made their wealth through corruption can never and will not share their wealth and lands with the poor and well kept illiterate masses of Pakistan. When it comes to Jibran Nasir-a man from elite class too is certainly better than Alvi in my opinion, because he talks sense and takes stand for minorities and the victims of Pakistan. However, I see him more for recognition and not taking stand when it comes the victimization and deprivation of Urdu speaking people of Karachi and their party MQM. I pretty much know why he does such selective politics and human service. He needs to rise above ethnic politics and prove that all human beings are equal. Pakistan is filled with nominal human rights activists who belong to elite class of Pakistan. I believe they are for fame and fortune and have nothing to do with real issues of Pakistan. However, I will admit that among all human rights activists of Pakistan Jibran Nasir is the one who has the courage to talk on certain burning issues of Pakistan where most so called leaders and intellectuals avoid to do so.Recommend

  • bik74

    Jibran was someone that compared that Hazara suicide attacks with Burma muslims.
    Sorry Jibran is 100% fake and not liberal.Recommend

  • cutofjib

    Jibbys problem is he thinks HE is right. HE is the guy who can bring change, OTHERS are hypocrites, BUT JIB is the one, and only JIB. Jibrbrarian agenda must be followed.

    In reality he has a very undemocratic approach.Recommend

  • Nadir Butt

    The only thing Jibran Nasir will accomplish is to break PTI’s vote and increase the likelihood of Farooq Sattar or PSP winning the seat.

    No thanks.

    Also, for a person who is only running for one seat, he hasn’t fielded any solutions to the problems plaguing his constituency nor has he even mentioned, even once, the specific problem’s faced by the constituents of NA 247 in the limited vision that he has fielded on his website.

    Eradication of VIP culture, bigotry against minorities, and support for PTM are all national causes that require a whole, if not many, generations of education and cultural refinement. But he has no platform to affect national causes which will require cross-constituent solutions.Recommend