#ETBlogsAsks: If YOU could remove one political party, which would it be?
With General Elections upon us, we took to the streets of Karachi to ask people the political party of their choice, with a twist: our very own Game of Politics (GoP). Everyone wonders who they’ll vote for, but how often do we question who we would NEVER vote for?
Talking to a variety of people, across gender, age and social class, we noticed some interesting patterns in what people said, and interestingly, even what they didn’t say.
Women were largely uncomfortable with answering questions pertaining to politics and being on camera as well; amidst a group of friends with both boys and girls, the boys would either put themselves forward or the girls would push their male friends forward to do the talking. We did encounter one woman who seemed interested in answering our questions, but before she could consent, her male relative (brother, husband, not clear) answered for her and walked away.
A lot of people refused to answer the question, warning us that it might be dangerous to even talk about this here. One man went on the extent of saying:
“Yeh Karachi hai beta, yahan aesi baatain nai karsaktay hum log.”
(This is Karachi, you cannot discuss these things here)
These are the aftereffects of a city that has been terrified for far too long. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)’s influence might have died down but Karachiites still hold onto the fear and refuse to say anything that might get them into trouble or even cost them their life.
Men in general had a lot of feelings over what parties should be removed from Pakistan’s landscape, and were enthusiastic about speaking up. On the other hand, several women were either apolitical or sheepishly admitted to having no knowledge of or interest in politics. One university student told us that her family was voting for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which is why she would too, despite not having any particular inclinations or interest in the party.
Across social class, while those stemming from middle to lower class backgrounds tended to have political opinions and share their grievances and the reason why they would want a party out, people belonging to the upper class either thought the question was unfair – that every party deserves to compete – or were politically neutral and did not have particularly strong opinions on who to eliminate. A lot of the people belonging to the upper class even saw the elections as useless. They believed that there was no point to voting and that Pakistan was headed toward its inevitable doom
We also came across a woman who showed her grievance on not being able to cast her vote. Her identity card was not made, despite going to National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) offices multiple times. She mentioned how she has never been able to vote because of this and thought that her ID card issues were due to the fact that she worked as a maid and was not taken seriously.
We went in with the hypothesis that people might want to get rid of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) considering the party’s current standing and corruption charges on its leader. Our hypothesis proved right, 29.4% people wanted PML-N to be ousted from politics. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was just behind, with 23.5% people claiming they do not want to give any further chances to the Bhutto party. In PTI’s case, 11.7% of the people refused to vote for the party while the other 11.7% wanted to get rid of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). One person wanted Karachi’s most popular party, MQM, to finally pack up their bags, while another person, hailing from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), wanted to eliminate Awami National Party (ANP). Moreover, 11.7% of the people did not want to eliminate anyone.
Surprisingly, even though Karachi arguably owes a lot to Mustafa Kamal, his party, Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), was not mentioned by anyone we interviewed. This is either a cause to rejoice for the newbie because people did not seem to think the party deserved to be kicked out of the political arena, or it could be a cause of concern that the party is not noticeable enough to Karachiites.
Across the country, most political parties have certain regions where they are strong, giving voters in the region the option to choose between a couple of parties. In Sindh, however, particularly in Karachi, this is not the case. Every political party – be it PML-N or PPP, who are unlikely to win, or PTI, MQM or even PSP, who stand a chance – is running a strong campaign with the possibility of getting elected. An independent candidate even having a small shot at winning an important constituency like NA-247 and PS-111 is proof that Karachi is entirely unique when it comes to electioneering and voting patterns.
May the best party for Pakistan win!
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.