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The author is disappointed by the absence of PTI leadership from the protests taking place in Karachi.

Naya Pakistan is such a vague expression, that it could mean anything to anyone. This was a clever slogan for the elections to pull the masses and rally them behind. Nobody can point exactly what it means beyond probably end of corruption and maybe a chance for an untried and untested party.

On May 11,2013, I drove around four constituencies of Karachi and went inside the polling station in two of them. The numbers were phenomenal. People actually went out, stood in line and cast their vote. Even the polling stations that never opened were crowded. People went out believing they were voting ‘for Pakistan’, a term coined by the media that again doesn’t mean anything but could emotionally charge people.

Melas are thing of the past in Karachi, because of the incessant violence in the city the only picnic spot for families is Clifton beach; for all 18 million people. If anything came close to a family outing on May 11, it was a visit to the polling station. Families thronged, sisters giggled standing in line under protective eyes of their mothers and fathers, waited outside as they do outside an examination center.

It could have been a clean and clear victory for PTI, despite probably being the only party that had not set up camps, and if they had, there was no one to man them. The idea of polling agents is probably a very complicated idea for PTI and hence in most places they were not there. Mind you, I was not in the strongholds of MQM rather in the middle and upper middle class localities, but except for NA 250, I noticed MQM everywhere. There posture though was very docile.

Now Karachi is complicated. MQM does not have respect amongst the professional class anymore, the class that has always stayed purposefully depoliticized and has been most politicized in the last few years. They live all over Karachi but majority lives in the areas that are partly covered in each of these constituencies, i.e,  NA 250, 251, 252 and 253. So in the context of hatred for MQM politics and campaign for Pakistan, the eventual result was that PTI got votes without having to go door to door. In my area, I had not seen anyone campaigning for PTI; even the camps set up were neither manned nor lit up. It was as if the actual voter might just come from either their social media contacts or from regular TV talk shows. And they actually did on May 11. Hence, we all believe that PTI got much more votes then the ones that were counted.

Now, what has happened once the results start coming in shows that the social media action that turned into ballot action is turning into road action. The anger is real and genuine. These ‘kids’ that were imagined to be too pampered to brave the heat and sun feel deprived, imagined to be too immature feel the responsibility and imagined to be politically annoying  unbeknownst are leading the protests. The most disappointing role has been of the leaders and former candidates of PTI. They were visible neither before nor after the elections. The chaos and disorganization is felt by all who stand on the sides to watch.

It is not easy to name MQM; actually coming on the street and blaming them squarely for the rigging was also hundred times unthinkable till only about three days ago. It was only in our wild imagination that we thought that thousands could block roads to demand action against the party. Since Election Day, MQM position and threats also puts into question the MQM’s claims of being upholders of Karachi’s democratic rights. Their action and words put them in the same position as the Talibans are considered to have. Again, the PTI leadership is avoiding direct conflict with MQM. It may be that they want that such protests die  a natural death sparing them the effort to confront and risk.

PTI supporters in Karachi have taken to the streets because they believe in the PTI’s quest for change, and hope that by raising their voices against injustice they can still make it happen. That hope will die the day Imran Khan pacts with MQM and dilutes the issue.

The author is not a PTI voter, neither is brave enough to publish his/her name with this post. 

Image via Dawn.com

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