First, let me clarify that I’m not an intellectual like most Pakistanis. I don’t wake up each morning with a new, no-fail solution to all our problems and I certainly don’t spend my daytime trying to cram my warped socio-political views into others’ heads like every Hamid, Talat and Kamran is found doing these days. I’m a regular time-wasting, politics-hating young man who couldn’t be bothered about who’s running the country as long as I’m provided with all the basic necessities of a comfortable urban life like I should be in the 21st century. Incidentally, that makes me selfish, materialistic and fairly brutal when it comes to judging people at face value, which is why I want the people I hire to do their job right.
Yup, that’s right. I want my country to be run by a man who knows what he’s gotten himself into. I want to be able to relate to him as my leader, and for him to have the decency to at least try to achieve my respect, admiration and ultimately, if he’s able to deliver what’s required of him, my absolute trust, devotion and the next vote. I want him to be a practical man with a spectacular vision for my future and wellbeing, and not someone who will rob me of every last Rupee I make and then feed me nonsensical crap about the sanctity of democracy and judiciary and the constitution without result, because frankly, I don’t care for these phenomena if they’re not going to benefit me directly, which – drum roll, please – they don’t. At least not in the Pakistan I know.
I believe in simple, straightforward things, and for me, politics is not an exception. If you deliver, I’ll vote for you; if you don’t, I won’t. Period.
And up until a few days ago, I was torn between supporting the man of the hour Imran Khan and lamenting the flagrant degradation of the man my countrymen love to hate – General Musharraf – by not voting at all.
Why torn, you ask? Because Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari didn’t just fail to fulfill their purpose, they’ve embedded in me an intrinsic fear of sweet-talking democratically elected civilians who woo before woe-ing, and the only time I ever felt like I was remotely being taken care of by my country and leader; the only time when I wasn’t downright ashamed to call myself a Pakistani as I interacted with the world was during the nine years this military “dictator” was in office. This might be a rather ingenuous conclusion for some of the more politically erudite Pakistanis out there, but for me it really isn’t, for today, suddenly, just days before the day that will determine my country’s fate for the next five years, I woke up pleasantly enlightened with an epiphany: Yes, I will vote for Imran Khan because if nothing else, he is an honest – albeit selectively delusional – man who I now truly believe, despite never really seconding the teenybopper-like, all-hail-the-messiah mentality people generally have about him, that he will, even at his absolute worse, still do a better job at running the country than the bane we’ve just suffered for five excruciating years.
Suddenly, the answer seems so simple. Suddenly, I know I must vote for Imran Khan. Suddenly, I see my life not as a multifarious puppet show the strings to which aren’t in my hands, but as mere days, hours, seconds that I must revel, live, appreciate life – for myself.
And today, just days before the day that will determine your and your country’s fate for the next five years, I ask you to do the same.
You and I have been through enough already – we deserve better.
Sure, he still has much to prove, but let’s remember that this is the man who has in the past brought our perpetually distraught nation pride the likes of which it hasn’t seen since ’47. This is the man who has fought, in both cricket and politics, for Pakistan for 40 long years. And above all, this is a man who is not Benazir Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif or Asif Ali Zardari.
So if Imran Khan despite his many follies wants us to give him a chance, we must.
For surely the time has come to finally stand up and leave the familiar comfort of passivity behind: Let’s hold each other’s hands and find our way out of this dark and gloomy labyrinth of eternal uncertainty. Let’s break the curse that’s damned us to not be able to tell our friends from enemies; inherently incapable of identifying, uniting and standing up against the real issues that are eating away our beloved Sabz Hilali Parcham. Let’s get our priorities straight and stop fretting over complex, multifaceted issues like maintaining the freedom of our divine judiciary, preserving our holy constitution and taking revenge through the pain that this ill-fitted democracy phenomenon has turned out to be before knowing and demanding our basic human rights. Let’s instead start caring about issues like inflation and affordability and crime and national pride and science and technology and new products and services and education and inventions and health and happiness and progress and entertainment. Let’s start giving a damn when our kids are publicly shot down or beaten to pulp and their murderers never brought to trial. Or when our children have to go to bed hungry because the urban metropolis we live in unexpectedly goes on a complete shut-down just because someone somewhere died. Let’s start demanding justice when our women are raped and paraded naked through the neighbourhoods they make the mistake of calling home. Let’s start getting offended when our brothers’ homes are burned down by a religiously charged mob in the light of day and our governors are shot down in the middle of the road. Let’s no longer tolerate the rabid suicide bombers that continue to blow our brothers and sisters up in the name of religion. Or the dime-a-dozen tried-and-tested democratic monarchs that plague our country and have become so comfortable in our woeful indifference that they demand our vote as if it’s their right.
Well, not anymore. Because today, fully aware that he will not miraculously transform my country from a bedlam of hopelessness and corruption into the stuff of dreams, I’m ready to vote for the first step towards change. I’m ready to vote for a Naya Pakistan. I’m ready to vote for Imran Khan.