Despite everything, I will still vote for PML-N

Published: July 20, 2018

PML-N supporters take part in a march towards the airport ahead of the arrival of Nawaz Sharif in Lahore. PHOTO: AFP

When I moved back to Pakistan after completing my undergraduate studies in the US, I was not a supporter of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). In fact, my newsfeed was flowing so much with remonstrations about the ‘Jangla Bus’ (Green Line Metro Bus) that it was hard to even contemplate that possibility.

One day, I decided to test out this infamous bus service, from Model Town to Lahore Fort, expecting to witness how utterly senseless the project truly was.

Handed a yellow plastic token, I entered through the turnstile and awaited my ride. It pulled in and the doors parted with a hiss, just as they used to in Boston, London and New York. But inside was such a massive mesh of people that I thought it would be better to take the next bus. When the next one too was bursting at the seams, I stepped in with one deep breath.

From Model Town all the way to Lahore Fort, not a single passenger got off. To the contrary, and quite miraculously, more kept piling on. It smelled of a hard day’s work inside. All the commuters had hung shoulders and tired expressions, yet seemed to enjoy the ride. Three stops down the line, they would disembark at Shahdara, just outside the city; all for Rs20.

For me, a new story was writ that day; a story missing from my Facebook newsfeed even today.

Here was a project that was the scorn of the rich – and yet it was packed. For a meagre Rs20, gardeners, plumbers, waiters, students and salesmen alike rode in an air-conditioned bus. Neither confined by their locality, nor inhibited by the expensive commute they would otherwise have to take aboard a van, followed by a rickshaw, and then possibly a tonga (light carriage), they could now seek work wherever it was available.

Those who used the service had clearly voted in its favour. For them, this was a need, not a luxury.

That was the first time I thought to myself, these guys are doing something right. All of a sudden, I started seeing it elsewhere too. I saw signs of free Wifi in public parks, markets and universities. I saw that the government took the first step in starting what can today be called an infectious start-up culture in Punjab.

I also saw the truck from the Lahore Waste Management Company that would clean the road in front of my house every day. I have seen those trucks in every corner of the city I have been to. The green jumpsuits of the staff once again remind me of workers in cities the rich frequently flock to when the sun lays its heavy weight on the plains during summer. There is dignity in their uniform; there is pride in their service, just as there is in more developed countries.

This development was there for me to see all along, but I only noticed it after that bus ride. I was, however, still unsure whether PML-N’s vision for Pakistan matched mine. It was only when Nawaz Sharif celebrated Diwali – the first Pakistani premier to dare to do so – that I found my vision was not too dissimilar from his. This was followed up by a ‘Christmas Train’ from Peshawar to Karachi, taking the nativity scene through small towns and villages in a resounding celebration of diversity.

A vote can be cast for many reasons or none at all. It is an expression of choice after all. So in this upcoming election, I choose to vote for PML-N. Their performance and intentions over the past five years have me convinced. But starting July 26, they – or whoever comes to power – will have to start convincing me and everyone else all over again.

Kamil Chima

Kamil Chima

The author studied political theory at Harvard College and is a film-maker, who's first feature-film will be out in cinemas in 2019.

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

  • Jowaria Sohail

    Bcoz the tactic is to let people think about the very very basic necessities of life and let them stuck in the vicious cycle of daily problems by killing their vision so that no one dares to think about bigger problemsRecommend

  • fARooq…

    they can start a mini-helicopter service and that is how people will get another reason to vote for them ignoring the other parameters on which governance and statecraft are based.Recommend

  • Sahir Sumalani

    I’d really recommend you pay a visit to any city in Balochistan and I am dead sure you will definitely change your mind.Recommend

  • Jehanzeb

    Can’t even think to vote such corrupt peopleRecommend

  • Faheem Shahzad

    Good attempt Mr. Kamil. However, please note that Free Wi-Fi, Metro Bus Ride & Waste Management outside your home or across Lahore are not the only basic needs that everyone needs.

    Basic health care facilities, equal opportunities for free education, justice for all (across the board) are some of the “NEEDS” of a common man as well.

    Last but not the least, Lahore is not Punjab & Punjab is not Pakistan.

    Look beyond your boundaries and then come up with your logic of voting for PMLN.Recommend

  • Sam

    Please leave your Paris(Lahore) and don’t even cross a province. Just head towards South Punjab, you will see another vision for sure.Recommend

  • khizra niaz

    Pakistan is not just “lahore” for a change why don’t you visit cities in lahore’s vicinity!Recommend

  • Muhammad Shoaib Pasha

    No one in his right mind would oppose these buses, but it is a question of priorities. Aren’t education, healthcare, provision of drinking water, electricity, gas more important than green, orange, yellow buses and trains whose real worth / cost is merely 40% of the amount charged to the country’s exchequer and whose operation is eating away a lot of tax payers’ money by way of subsidies! Remember, resources are scarce and should be spent on the major segment of the population, not a few thousands!Recommend

  • Zaeemulhassan Khatri

    It is just what you can see and what you want to see. What about other parts of Punjab? How much worse he goes if he is satisfying your needs he is omitted from obligation.

    It is just like ” Yeah I have had a giant cake but I shared my leftovers with you even though mostly came up with their own ingredients, however I managed to hide mine for my private party”.

    But we were expecting a much bigger one.

    From the written blog it seems our ability to see beyond the need has passed away.Recommend

  • Ashiq Hussain

    So why provincial governments of Balochistan didn’t this?Recommend

  • Patwari

    Sadly and pathetically, the blogger fails to see what this represent to the rest of the nation.
    Supposedly he did his undergraduate work abroad. Yet his narrow view, with blinders on,
    reeks of provincialism, ethnicism and Punjabicism. He has no idea how the rest of the country
    looks at Punjab the Province of Privilege. That’s PPP. Which is another name, synonym for
    PPP the Party of Dead People from the graveyard at Garghi Khuda Baksh, Sindh. This must
    be karma in triplicate…coming down heavy on the Sons Of the Soil of Punjab.
    Besides, PPP of Nawaz can also be the Party of Incarcerated People at Adiala jail…PIPA-N
    Even the prisoners in Adiala shout slogans at the wanna-be- Ameerul Momineen.
    These yellow bus services, purple taxis, green commuter trains plus whatnot displays the
    Sharif Cabal’s decades of pouring money in their stronghold. Fortress Punjab. While the rest
    of the Pakland stood in rags, watching with amazement, at the transformation of Punjab-N
    Taking loans on top of loans to build a constituency that is enslaved to the Sharif Brothers, Maryam and Safdar Travelling Circus. Ran the country into the ground, near bankruptcy now.
    Thanks to Nawaz, Pakland’s money is sitting in Panama, Hong Kong, Macau, London, Caribbean Islands, Dubai, Lichtenstein and God knows how many other foreign offshore accounts.
    It all boils down to one thing, the blog writer took a ride in a yellow bus, and now he will vote for
    Who knows, he might eat chapali kababs in Qissa Khawani Bazaar and may vote for PTI, next.
    Or eat chop suey in Shanghai and vote for…Xi Ping. Or idlis and dosas and vote for Modi Sarkar.Recommend

  • humayun bangash

    You missed the point completely. 60%of Punjab”s budget was spent on Lahore. it may be worthwhile taking a ride in a bus in DG KHAN or LayyahRecommend

  • Faiza Noor

    I respect Kamil’s opinion as he perceived it through an eye that is sensitive about people’s needs. The ousted PM had definitely done efforts in Lahore but ‘nation- building’ is somewhat different than infrastructure building. In the long run, what matters is how we as a ‘nation’ have grown. Roads and buildings are not indicationd of our ‘development’. We as a nation are celebrating over his arrest failing to understand that ‘justice’ is not addressed in this matter. We as a nation are politically stagnant for we have failed to understand the essence of justice.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Will definitely vote for PML N rather than seeing an overrated “captain” to head the nation.Recommend

  • Hammad Mian

    The writer thinks that Lahore is the only city in Pakistan. Have you ever been to Southern Punjab ?Recommend

  • James Caan

    … will India !!!!Recommend

  • hamza khan

    this is precisely what the proponents of infrastructure projects do not have an answer for. pakistan is not punjab or lahore. the rest of the country matters, and the ruling party has to ensure the progress of the state and well being of ALL its people. NS and co failed miserably on that front.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Because Balochistan or Sindh or K-P do not have the money.
    Money has been shunted to Punjab. For decades. By corrupt
    politicians like the Sharif Brothers Cabal. Because their voters,
    who elect them, again and again and again, live in Punjab.
    Therefore all the money is mostly spent on Punjab. Leftover scraps
    are thrown at other provinces. Like throwing coins at beggars.Recommend

  • sterry

    People vote for a party for its policies and whether the party delivers. Despite all the rhetoric, PML N has largely delivered. I think the majority of educated voters will see the infrastructure projects, the realization of CPEC, improved stability and decreased terrorism as the result of the current government’s efforts. Importantly the energy crisis was addressed and largely improved. This is what matters and despite the negative politics being played by those against the government, people can see through the smoke. Like you I had the opportunity to sit on the Metrobus from Rawalpindi to Islamabad and I realized that the common man appreciated the efforts made by the government for tackling their basic needs. Why has PTI started to make a more expensive but inferior version of the same Metrobus project in KPK after years of calling it janglabus? All the smoke and tricks of other parties cannot hide the truth. I too will be voting PML N for obvious reasons as will most fair minded and educated Pakistanis who want a prosperous and developing country.Recommend

  • sterry

    Forgot that the PPP government under the control of Zardari based in Sind ruled for 5 years the previous term or that we had a dictator from Karachi rule for 10 years – they accomplished little compared to the improvement seen in the country in hardly a few years of the current government. I would save your clever diversionary tactics to fool others. We all know that provincial governments have a budget. There is an NFC award. If the provincial government in Punjab has done a good job of improving cities in the province with provincial resources, what stops the provincial government in Sind or any other province from doing the same? I live in Rawalpindi and I have seen it improved. Maybe one day you will understand that people vote on the basis of delivering on campaign promises and improving the lot of people in the country.Recommend

  • Amer

    This is typical “me” and “my” mentality that’s driving people to vote for PML-N and PPP etc.Recommend

  • Usman Abbasi

    My brother Mr. Patwari,
    Sindh’s developmental budget for the past 10 years was Rs.1500 billion. That’s almost $15 billion (according to the old exchange rate) my friend. Now that you have the correct knowledge, you would agree with me that they haven’t put forward a single mega project?
    Don’t be influenced by the media my dear brothers, learn to read between the lines. Development in any nation in any area is hard to miss, if only you open your eyes, just like the author stated :)Recommend

  • Sahir Sumalani

    let us not alter the context, you’d closely monitor the services that you hired for, you’ll pay money only if you are satisfied, what is the check and balance in Balochistan? Shrouded entities are paid heavily and no audit is performed. Yes, everything exists but, its on papers.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Its a shame that educated people can not see beyond a red bus and an orange train …….. the Sharif brothers correctly assessed this and in the process bankrupted the country and enriched themselves. Mr. Zardari was far shrewder, he gobbled up the whole cake not even leaving a trail of crumbs to trace it back to him.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Remember, Sindh has two entities. There is Karachi and the ‘other’ Sindh.
    which is called Zardari’s Sindh. Two separate places. Ruled by different people. Does not matter a hoot what YOU think. It’s ground reality.
    So by virtue of your logic, the dictator from Karachi helped Karachi
    only,…for 10 years? So Karachi must have prospered? Not Sindh.
    Well, the Sharif Brothers, Hamza, Maryam and Safdar Travelling Show
    has been benefiting Privileged Province of Punjab since Zia ul Haq’s rule.
    That is more than 30 years. Anyway you count it.
    Which is besides the point that the Sharif Cabal shunted money to Punjab under any pretext. Nothing was ever transparent. After all when your voting base lives and festers in Punjab, you will take every opportunity to make them happy. With a fake pseudo economy. With manipulated figures. [Thanks to the absconder Dar] Even CPEC is not transparent. To date.
    Sindh does not have many natural resources. It is basically desert country.
    with a half empty Indus River trickling down it, and a seaport.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Agree with you to an extent. Sure, there is massive corruption. 4,000
    ghost schools and colleges. Every thug in the Sindh assembly or NA
    has a house in Dubai. They commute to Karachi to work.
    Then you have the Marquis of Paris sitting on top of the pyramid and getting his 10% bhatta,…from everything.
    But when you are in charge of the federal govt. then you play by the
    Robert Mugabe Rules of Corruption. a whole different ball game.
    More money to keeps the indentured Punjabi Peons happy with dal/roti.Recommend

  • Shah khan

    well we would have believed your admiration for you favorite leader nawaz if he was truly a humble sincere leader lead this nation to prosperity in 30 years of his rule and not to the helhole of poverty,

    people would have loved his honesty if he was living with his family in pakistan not london just like common people away from corruption, if he would have strict on his crooked corrupt ministers or government dept heads which act under his commands,
    stop playing you should accept that your leader make his family and cronies super rich with the expense of the poor nation. this man deserve a greatest punishment that becomes an example for the whole world.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    For writing this. The Darbari from Raiwind
    is one of the most corrupt man in Pakistan.
    He has looted and plundered this country to
    near bankruptcy.Recommend

  • sterry

    I would prefer to look at where the country and the economy is now and also compare where we were before. Then you should vote. If you are honest with yourself, you will see the indices showing a clear improvement in all spheres. I am not going to listen to nonsensical name calling and throwing around accusations with no proof. Save your talk about corruption and looting for people who can be hoodwinked. Nothing was proven in the courts except a demonstration of a politically motivated judgement based on assumption. In hardly 5 years ( not 30 years) this country has seen an improvement and was destined for even greater improvement had not Kaptaan obsessed with instability causing dharnas and attempts at calling in the umpire. Let the people vote on performance and who will perform – not on name calling and false accusations.Recommend

  • fARooq…

    well if you wish to stay in a static position, that is your choice. I wish for that time to come soon where “people vote for a party for its policies” but we currently live(for all the reasons) in a post truth society where narrative and perception is all that matters. Your love and devotion towards nawaz and his party is acknowledged but who are you to speak on behalf of the educated class of the country. Interestingly, can you name any political party in a democratic country which is named after a single worthless personality like PML (Nawaz).. plus, also a party named Muslim league in a country where multiple religions are practiced. And the leadership includes nawaz, shahbaz, maryam, hamza (wtf) … seems like the sperms in the scrotum of your leaders are waiting to lead you .. this is your party, its policies and its deliverance.. ( let me cool down)… lastly.. voting for the same party again and again is like watching a single movie throughout your life believing that others are far worse… grow up man ….Recommend

  • Patwari

    Very well said. Awesome!Recommend

  • sterry

    Well you don’t disappoint with your language! You can imagine the sperm in my scrotum or Nawaz’s scrotum or Imran’s scrotum if that is how you decide your voting preference !Just supports my theory as to the level of thought you process. That being said, I frankly wouldn’t care if Nawaz Sharif or his family were or were not at the helm of affairs – I am talking about economic policy and which party has delivered or has the best plan. One day I hope that the people of the country can get over the politics of personality worship and think about where the country is headed. Even a worthless Nawaz or a worthless Imran or a worthless Zardari won’t matter when the political system and the institutions of state are functioning. That is why ( to use your words a worthless personality like Nawaz) has managed to improve the country in a few years with CPEC, infrastructure and stability more than a worthless person like Zardari could do in 5 years or a worthless person like Musharraf could do in 10 years. Now get back to thinking about sperm since that is how you decide election voting !Recommend

  • fARooq…

    hmm. if you have problems in understanding english prose, then i have to simplify things for you. You stand here and support a party that believes in dynasticism and family politics. Contrarily, you are countering my “sperm” argument right on me (that is silly). And CPEC, let me elaborate that (if you do not have a blinkered mind). The whole concept of this initiative is a refurbishment to the old Silk Route. More than fifty countries(including European ones) are sheltering under the umbrella of this economic enterprise. Chinese are investing heavily in multiple African states that will surely boost their economic growth. And according to your theory, i should be praising the filthy rulers of those African countries as well despite knowing them by and large. CPEC is a small part of that enterprise. You need to understand that these rulers did not beg or presented something opportunistic to the Chinese. Rather the Chinese invited them to have something like this which anyone would grabbed straightforwardly. Try to think critically. Don’t take everything for granted.Recommend

  • fARooq…

    come on .. your response ???Recommend

  • Sam Villa

    Nations are not built by infrastructure of convenience (metros,motorways), but by infrastructure of productivity (dams, railways, canals, powerlines). A farmer doesn’t buy a car, a farmer buys a tractor first. A welder doesn’t buy a motorcycle first, he buys a welding torch first,Recommend

  • Asim Khan

    Because public transport is such a one-time novelty experience for you, what you fail to understand is that those buses are jam packed because they ban all other public transport on the same route in order to eliminate competition with their initiative. Traveling on the same route was much more convenient on the small Toyota Hiace vans which were also cheaperRecommend