Flashback to five years ago: the country was nearing the end of a tenure. Elections ke naarey surrounded us. Imran Khan started becoming more popular, too. Especially with the youth. People were excited about voting. From my constituency, the main candidates were from two parties I couldn’t really see myself aligning with.
I personally didn’t support either of the candidates from my constituency, so I ended up not voting.
Before I get any crazy hate comments, let me explain what my thought process was:
To me, it was as if nothing could save Pakistan. What was the point of voting when everything was going to be the same anyways? Nonetheless, none of the candidates from my constituency represented my beliefs or supported what I stood for. Voting is a right for every citizen, and not exercising that right, is my right as well.
Not taking part in the election campaign also sends a sign to the government, right? Even if I did vote, any party could, through corruption, could make sure that they win (funny part is, that the results of my constituency were proved to be rigged later on).
But, the last five years made me change the way I look at things.
We, as a country, since the last elections, have seen and faced many ups and downs in our political system. From the Panama Papers, to the ousting of the Prime Minister, we’ve actually experienced every institution, especially our judicial system, doing their job independently.
However, while all of this was happening, I felt like I didn’t have a right to say or complain about what was going on in my country.
Why? Because of the fact that I didn’t even do my bare minimum requirement for a democratic system to function, which was to vote.
I felt like I wasted my vote when I could have given it to the best of the worst in my constituency. Now I see that even if any party does rig the election result, that shouldn’t stop me from voting because I did what I could do, and played my role as a democratic citizen of Pakistan.
This time, five years ago, I wish I realized that every vote, every opinion, every tweet does matter in our country, it’s like a chain reaction. Any opinion or article I share online could inform another person, and make them more politically aware. Thus, being democratic isn’t just about voting, it’s about being politically aware and spreading that awareness.
Not only do I regret not voting, I regret not spreading political awareness amongst the masses.
I regret not actively encouraging everyone to vote and take part in the elections in some other way if they couldn’t vote. We are the future of Pakistan. If we won’t work hard to bring a change, who will?
I’m an apolitical person, but I was glad to see that action was being taken against those that it needed to be taken against. All the actions that took place recently that went against the status quo in Pakistan, changed my whole thought process about how I saw the political system in Pakistan. It motivated me to not give up, to fight for the freedom and struggle that Jinnah once fought for.
I also felt grateful for a chance to actually speak up for what I believe in, when many in my very own country get that right snatched away. So the fact that I took that for granted, and thought that maybe if I didn’t vote it’d make a difference, made me feel pretty shitty.
These elections, it’s not just a matter of voting or not, it’s a matter of making sure my voice is heard and my opinion is counted.
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