In Okara: Why Twitter is not enough

Published: September 9, 2011

Tweets about which coffee house you are in while discussing Pakistan helps no one.

I had joined Twitter sometime ago, and was truly disgusted by the so-called thinkers sitting in the luxuries of their air-conditioned rooms, tweeting about how Pakistan is in dire need of help. Tweets about which city they are in, or which coffee house they are in will not help the situation of the people who need our help. “Why don’t they go out and do something?” I wondered.  Thus, I decided to be proactive.

It has been a year since I started working as the PPP president for Okara district, Punjab. Growing up in a political family, I witnessed my father working day and night. I clearly remember the many hours I spent waiting for my father; he was hardly ever around, as he was always at the beck and call of the people of his village. It was routine for us wait for my father to arrive to eat dinner. Often when he finally did arrive he would leave the table in a matter of minutes because a guest from Okara had come to visit him.

He loved them and they loved him.

His relentless hard work and determination definitely left its mark on me, and I too wanted to follow in his footsteps. However, it is easy to watch someone work whilst you reap all the comforts of this hard work – what is even more difficult than just earning a living is earning the respect of other people. In our family, respect is valued much more that than having all the wealth in the world. However, I never realised just how hard it is it is to earn peoples’ respect.

Okara is a large district, comprising of three tehsils. My grandfather migrated from the Indian tehsil, Ferozepur, to settle in a small village named Wasawewala. I grew up in Lahore because there were no schools for girls back home. However, now we have a number of government and private schools and collages for girls in our village. We even have a cadet college, and will have a university soon too. Furthermore, I am proud to say that the road network of Okara is one of the best in Punjab.

All of this development, however, did not occur overnight – it took 35 years.

When I went back to my village for the first time, I was excited and scared at the same time. I was excited as I would be doing what I always dreamed of doing, and scared because I did not want to make any mistakes. Now, I go to Wasawewala once or twice a week. It is a five hour journey both ways.

It is a very emotional experience for me to return to my village, and I am always plagued by the mixed feelings of happiness of being home and the immense sorrow of seeing people suffer so relentlessly.

I never go to Wasawewala with the objective to sit in an air conditioned office. I make an active effort to visit small villages and conduct meetings in order to give women from these villages the opportunity to talk and share their problems with me. It is heartening to observe these women who wait for hours before my arrival just to talk to me. They bring no applications or documentation. All they bear in their weak hands are copies of their identity cards.

At first, I used to get annoyed on receiving a mere copy of an identity card. “What am I supposed to do with this?” I thought.

However, on observing the relief on their faces when they handed me their ID cards, I understood that these women had so much faith in me that by just handing me this piece of paper, they believed that I would take their problems away. They felt a sense of comfort in my presence and perhaps hope that I could make their lives better. As this realization dawned on me, I felt a sense of responsibility and an urgent need to help them. This is why I have been visiting these women at least once a week for a whole year.

I will never forget the day when I went to Minchiriyan to announce the opening of a school for girls. There was no electricity, and these women just wanted a vocational training school for girls in order to teach them some hunar. As soon as I stood up and announced the opening of the school, the woman standing next to me started crying hysterically. They were tears of happiness.

On arriving in Lahore after every visit, I often have sleepless nights as I wonder what else I can do to help these women. At the same time, I feel relieved that I am making a difference in peoples’ lives and thus my existence is not useless.

This year I celebrated Eid in a somber mood with no mehndi on my palms or bangles on my wrists. I had been in my village for last three days of Ramazan, distributing ration bags in all the main cities of Okara. I wanted to make sure that every single bag went to the only the most needy people. I had 2,000 bags but even this was not enough, and many poor people did not receive ration before Eid.

However, I am glad that at least some people had a good Eid and were able to cook full meals in their houses. This thought brought a smile to my face. Even though these people can’t give anything except their prayers to me in return for my help, I am content to know that I am making a difference. I often wonder how I can use my resources to help them even further.

If more people stood up and came forward to help these people by just going to rural areas and listening to these people, Pakistan would be a much better place. We can help people by simply listening to them.

Please, make a group and visit the poor people in villages close to you. Even if it is just once a month, it can make a difference. It is hard work, yes, and it does require sacrifices. I too, just like my father come home late. My children wait anxiously for me just like I used to wait for my father. However, the feeling of achievement I get after helping those in need is unparallel to any feeling of joy in this world.


Jahanara Wattoo

President PPP Okara. An ordinary girl with a big dream to change the world.

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

  • Rabia

    I am truly disgusted by the so-called thinkers sitting in the luxuries of their air-conditioned rooms boasting about their corrupt political families, tweeting about how Pakistan is in dire need of help. Recommend

  • Dr. Adnan

    I hate your party let me just clear the facts here :PRecommend

  • Ms Marium

    Excuse Me! This article is abt twitter or your social work ? Recommend

  • The Critique

    here comes another self bragging politician! Recommend

  • R.N.Kiani

    the text and title don’t match but….!!!!
    I think that some times things are not as easy as they look like. it doesn’t matter whether i have my sympathies with your party or not what matters is that how the people of your region regard you because they got the voting rights and if they vote you it means you people are probably giving rendering some services of their interest to them.
    With the hope that you will become a good politician.Recommend

  • Hassan

    I cant believe that this kind of shallow self praising write up gets accepted and a lot of others get rejected unbelievable maybe if i write that i am a PPP goon i might get a chance on Express tribune….hey that rhymes!!!!!!Recommend

  • Bangalore.

    The title and text match. what the author is saying is that – just expressing views on twitter is not enough, you’ve got to do something concrete. I don’t know much about politics and politicians in pakistan, but people give the lady a break. Maybe she genuinely wants to do some good, maybe she is genuinely doing some good. In the face of the current situation in pakistan, You’ve got to appreciate that !Recommend

  • shoeb

    @hassan shair-e-mashrik bro shair-e-mashrik respect ..haha ;)Recommend

  • Tariq

    self promotion …Recommend

  • Amina

    Love it. she is doing a great job. we need more positive people like her. Recommend

  • Ali Noor

    Finally!!!! A politician that understands helping the constituents. KudosRecommend

  • asad

    A very commendable effort. the purpose of the write-up is, we believe, duly served. Okara too, like other districts of Pakistan, facing poverty and development challenges and it requires someone from within the established administrative system to address the issues. It takes courage to face the challenges and getting involved rather then staying put from the comfort of our homes. God speed miss watoo.

    to all the naysayers .remember the old adage ‘im not laughing at you, i am just laughing near you’Recommend

  • jahanara M Wattoo

    @Ali Noor: thank you Ali Noor,i really appreciate :)Recommend

  • jahanara M Wattoo

    @R.N.Kiani: thank you for your comment..your opinion matters to me..yes people of our area have faith in us and inshallah i will always do my best to come up on their expectations..thanx again.
    Jahanara M WattooRecommend

  • Tanzeel

    May God give Jehanara Watto courage to fight against feudalism in her constituency. Recommend

  • Tariq

    @Rabia: it’s easy to ridicule someone’s work but one has to look in the mirror and ask what have I done ? Please do tell…..Recommend

  • Columbus

    i appreciate ur efforts and re advising u what ever Tanzeel has said…Recommend

  • Maqsood

    This country really need educated, energetic, passionate and progressive lot to come forward and take part in Politics. I am really impressed with the amount of work that her family has done for their constituency. Keep it up the great work!

    I am confident that she will even go one step further in serving people of this country.Recommend

  • Rizvan

    i do belong from okara and the writer truly depicts the storyRecommend

  • Ovais

    why Zardari is not enough?? that we have to see the ordeal of Mirza now Recommend

  • Hassan

    Stopped reading as soon as I got to ‘I am a PPP president’, to have your political affiliations with them says alot about the credibility of what you are writing.. I dont need to waste my time on this!Recommend

  • CK

    Whats the purpose of this article?Recommend

  • anonymous

    bragging much?Recommend

  • Ali Noor

    @Jahanara: My pleasure. Hope this thesis helps you even further in your endeavors.


  • Parvez

    Today in Pakistan claiming affiliation to a political hierarchy is almost as good a committing suicide in the eyes of the public. All credit to you on being forthright.
    You are fortunate to realise that giving is far more rewarding than taking and the more you give the more you shall be rewarded.
    If we had more ‘big name’ offsprings doing what you are doing things will improve slowly.Recommend

  • Ijaz

    Great to read about your development efforts, this article sheds some much needed light on the both the plight of the disenfranchised and the responsibility of those who can make a difference in their lives. Keep up the good work!Recommend

  • Point ?

    Only one word comes to mind

  • Jahanara M Wattoo

    Thank you so much
    @Ijaz: Recommend

  • Mansoor

    I have read the comments above , We actually are living in such a situation where there is no trust in each other thats why if sombody even really wants to change the condition we wonder what kind of intentions he or she has in mind. Just being in “PPP” does not mean everyone is bad in the party (I personally do not belong to any political party) may be we need such kind of young and educated politicians as the auther is to make the image of politicians and certain parties better in the eyes of public. If i am a bad person doesn’t meean every Pakistani is bad. I belong to a village and author is aiming good points and looks like she is working on it while going to these people instead of siiting in her bed and writing this article on a notebook :) We should give chance to these people atleast. May Allah bless PakistanRecommend

  • Sohail Anwer

    Dear Author(Jahanara Watoo),

    Since you are an office bearer of PPP. Please tell me why can’t Zardari control Zulfiqar Mirza from issuing callous statements, why is the PPP government acting like a pawn in the game of the establishment? Why don’t you follow the Supreme Court orders especially re opening Zardari’s swiss cases and scrapping the NRO forever? Why has the PPP failed to curb inflation and unemployment? Why is teh PM and his cabinet defaulting on their taxes? Why can’t PPP bust the curse of corruption which has grown many folds? Ms Watoo your party is despicable it destroyed Pakistan in 1971, mohajirs in 1996 by Naseer Ullah baber and in 80s by the dozens in a day. Ms Watoo please come clean with your party’s past and tell me you can play a role to do something or you will quit this corrupt party if your conscience is still alive. Any queries please email me at [email protected] i am looking forward to hear from you.Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    you are not ordinary girl . you are feudal lord by birth. and got PPP president for Okara district, Punjab position without any hard work due to your family. and soon you will MNA and then minister.

    why not you and your party selected someone from your village, who know these pplz more then u for PPP president ?Recommend

  • Anthony

    A couple of things:

    1) Good job in your efforts, all credit given, however
    2) Not every twitter commentor has a political family or the kind of clout required to make a physical difference, but at least they ARE speaking up.
    3) When people don’t say anything, we say why aren’t they silent? When they say something we say ‘why aren’t they DOING anything?’ When they do something we say ‘why are they doing it with THAT party’?
    4) There are many folks on Twitter who I know personally who tweet about issues in Pakistan AND who are actively involved in making a difference in reality as well. Just becuase they don’t boast about it in Tribune doesn’t mean they aren’t doing anything.Recommend

  • Javeria Mahmood

    All the best for your good work…. may Allah give you more strength to help poor and needy people…. keep up the good work Recommend

  • Sohail Anwer

    Author(Ms Jahanara Watoo)

    I don’t understand how could a feudal do any good for the common man, these bastard feudals and the rightist elements along with the capitalists have destroyed this country. We need someone from the middle class or lower class to stand up and become a minister and tell us how to move as a nation. Ms Watoo and other feudal are just an eye candy/eye wash. These people can never do any real development for any one!!!!!!Recommend

  • jahanara M Wattoo

    @Javeria Mahmood:
    thanks Javeria..Recommend

  • Aamir Chaudhry

    THE Article is good and trueRecommend

  • waqar

    Well I thought you are going to write something about twitter and OKARA! I do not believe on PPP so automatically does not agree with you! Try to go with PTI :pRecommend