Operating on exactly one hour’s sleep, I got up to single-handedly change the fate of my country. Or at least that’s what all the news channels said I could do.
“The country’s in YOUR hands, you must bring the change.”
Change…what? As a purely subjective yet officially registered voter, I felt I was in a good position to stamp my opinion and not think about it twice. I wasn’t initially going to vote, but a friend changed my mind by saying my vote would just go wasted and I should feel more responsible towards my country.
On the TV, some old man with an impressive beard was talking about “swing voters.” Explanation: People who keep oscillating between political parties and don’t know where their loyalties lie, even to the time of giving in their vote…that was me.
My enthusiastic Imran Khan supporting mom and I, her sullen brooding child drove over to our polling station. On the way I did notice a few things. For one, the shiny apple red Metro Bus that runs in the city. I saw the gleaming stations, the walkways, the signs, and the people to whom such a system must be a luxury, preferable to walking on hot summer days that Lahore is too generously endowed with. I started to think. Voting for Nawaz Sharif might not be a bad idea, would it? He solved a major transport problem, after all.
Further on, I saw a gleaming back jeep sporting four PTI flags, and also happened to notice (no blame here), the extremely cute guy driving it. So then I reasoned, Imran Khan had somehow motivated the complacent ‘young people’ of Pakistan to get up at 8 am, and go cast their votes. The voters for PTI generally seemed more sophisticated, educated, tea drinking and Ray-Ban(s) wearing people. Plus, the supporters for PML-N seemed not to know the difference between a tiger (their actual mascot) and all varieties of cheetahs, lions and cougars…My vote fluctuated back to Imran Khan and his red and green campaign.
When we finally got to the heart of the city, three police trucks lined up in front of the car, chock full of barbed wire, bats and some particularly vicious looking policemen. Added to the fact that there had been bomb threats by the Taliban threatening to stop the elections, I got properly frightened. What kind of country was I in, where democracy was thought to be the enemy? Therein, I decided not to vote at all.
When we finally reached the polling station, I saw the vote casting sheet and spied a really cute ostrich symbol. I didn’t even know which party it belonged to, but I thought it looked adorable and thought of stamping on it. However, after all was said and done, and I was standing behind the flimsy cardboard cutout that was the ‘polling booth’, I realized I was just exhausted Tired out from the constant shifts, tired of my parents supporting different parties, and people telling me what to do. I thought about it for two seconds. The Metro Bus wasn’t a solution – it was a band-aid. Pakistan needed more vital things. Imran Khan was willing to address the core issues, the ones that mattered. And the ostrich was a ridiculous symbol for politics, since its a giant bird that ducks its head in the sand…
Stamped on the bat and walked out. Still subjective. Still half glass empty.
I have no delusions about the future of this country.
*These political parties are the only ones that matter to me. The other ones weren’t worthy of being mentioned here.