Don't Unfriend: How Election Disputes Are Leading Pakistanis To Ruin Their Friendships And Relationships

By Alveena Jadoon | 16 Jul, 2018

With the election coming up, everyone is involved in political debates. The last five years have certainly pushed people to be more politically active and assess which party they feel inclined towards. These decisions are not made in isolation, rather every person has their own set of principles and criteria on which they choose and pick whom they want to support.


Instead of engaging in healthy political debates and understanding that there will be disagreements, what people have been doing is bringing each other down for their political opinions and not giving any space for dissent

In the time leading up to the election, people shun their closed ones and break off ties merely because they cannot digest their political views. Many even go on to name and shame them on every possible avenue available.



The Pakistani society is plagued by what philosopher Emile Durkheim calls mechanical solidarity

Mechanical solidarity is the kind of social integration in which people within a society hold the same beliefs and values. They all work towards creating the sort of environment where individualism does not find any growth. The values and beliefs act as the collective conscience of the society and serve as the basis for each action.

If we apply this theory to Pakistan, we realize that mechanical solidarity exists. But while theoretically according to Durkheim, these values and beliefs help the society, here in Pakistan they have become life-threatening. Here is how – we want everyone to think, speak and act like us. This is ingrained in us so much that a person who chooses to deviate even a little bit is called out and often treated like an outcast.

There is no space for dissent or difference of opinion. We want to have those around who will think exactly like us or who will adapt to our ideology of life. People growing here have not learned that individuals can very well get along if they do not hold on to the same beliefs. Here it becomes a matter of life and death.



The idea that each individual should have the same core beliefs is so ingrained in us that we refuse to accept that individuals have agency and they are capable of deciding what they believe in and how they want to act

While the core belief “we are the most superior beings because we have a brain” is rigorously taught to us but the idea that an individual actually might use his brain to decide things for himself is simply not acceptable. Wherever there is dissent, it is snubbed and we are seeing its result at the most crucial time a polity can ever witness.

Our second democratic tenure is coming to an end, a greater apolitical crowd has started showing its interest in the politics of the country and there is a growing focus on accountability in the system. During such times, people tend to have different political affiliations but there is barely any acceptance for it.

Instead of accepting that each person has his/her own unique frame of reference, people have started calling each other out for our beliefs. They think that they are superior over the others because they are inclined towards a particular political party. People who have known each other for years are ending friendships because they cannot digest the difference in opinion.


The irony is that the same view is also being reinforced by some mainstream politicians too

They call out supporters of other political parties and try to portray them as stupid. The followers then act out on the words of their leaders and fail to understand that each person has their own sets of beliefs and principles which might differ from other people and hence, the difference in opinion is alright.

Imagine no one ever disagreed with you – what would then push you to actually think through whatever you are doing and whatever you believe in? This is precisely why the smallest of disagreements lead to boycotting relationships because the qualities of acceptance and respecting the disagreement are inherently missing in Pakistanis. Just think about the number of people who are not in your life purely because there was something you guys did not agree upon?


This is exactly what sets the premise of orthodoxy and extremism. The election season is the perfect time period to work out these differences and learn to respect people for their opinions

Instead of shunning, maybe we can learn how to debate things out with respect. Learn to express your opinion and listen to others with respect. Discuss why you feel a particular way and give others space too – and if despite that you do not reach the desired conclusion, agree to disagree.



If You Are Between The Ages Of 18 And 27, Here Is Why You Need To Vote In This Election, Now More Than Ever


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