MY JOURNEY AS A VOTER BY FARDAN KHALID
Flight 411: Patriotism, Belief, Betrayal. My journey as a voter, by Fardan Khalid.
“A wise man once said, that you can’t make monkeys understand that honey is sweeter than banana”.
A disappointing end to a trip that started on a promising note on the 10th of May 2013. I started my journey from Dubai, like thousands of others who wanted to bring about “change” in Pakistan. I, like many others were making the trip to ink our thumbs, with the hope of seeing our country prosper, under a man who has devoted his life for the cause of serving his country, restlessly.
I arrived in Lahore in the early hours on 0130 am, saturday morning, after a trip that lasted 7 hours due to delay by bad weather. Flight 411 carried overseas Pakistanis, who were anxious to vote a particular man in power, a man known to the world as “Imran Khan”. Once a great sportsman, then a great philanthropist, and then running for the coveted prize as PM to turn the tides of a battered nation of 18 crore. A man, who has tirelessly taken punches from a nation, who failed to understand the extent of his sacrifices he has made to help us, battled by corruption, extremism, lack of unity, and most importantly, lack of self belief.
Reaching Lahore in the early hours, with hope in my eyes and belief in my ambitious mind, I could hardly sleep through the night. Upon reaching the polling station of NA-125 in Cantt, I hardly knew the candidates standing for our party most loved by the youth, but I was told that a man named Hamid Khan, stood for the National Assembly. I didn’t know him, but the one thing I was certain off, was that I had to stamp the box that carried his election symbol, the Bat. As I stood in the long queue, under scorching heat, with thousands of ‘burger kids’ from DHA, I finally believed that change was on its way. Speaking to them, I felt pride, that finally, Imran shook and awoke 4 provinces, calling themselves Sindhi, Mohajirs, Baloch, Pathans & Punjabi. My sentiments ran through my spine with the thought that finally, I was not standing in a queue of individuals from provinces, but a line of people who would soon call themselves, ‘Pakistani’. Making my mark was by any definition, the most emotional highlight of my life for I had voted for my belief in the man, my belief in my country, my belief in Change!
A proud Pakistani walked home anxiously awaiting the results of the polls. Switching on the TV at 6pm to find out that PMLN was leading with 90 seats and PTI with 60, with counting still in progress. I noticed that major contenders like SMQ, JH, an IK had triple leads respectively from constituencies they stood from. By the late hours of the evening, the results drastically changed with many of us crying foul play. A stench that flew straight from Raiwind, to hijack the common patriotic Pakistani, of his/her mandate to select a leader, under the fallacy called democracy. PMLN & MQM had rigged us of our rights to have a sane, educated leader.
Glued to the telly, during the early hours of Sunday, defeat under a rigged system had become certain. Imran had lost, yet again. Lost from whom?? A system that promised to be just but failed throughout 65 years in existence. However, Imran didn’t lose the elections, he lost from a bunch of thick skinned awaam who weren’t interested in changing their future. He had lost from people who disregarded his sacrifices for his country, all these years. Along with him, came down my hopes, hopes of a respected country, hopes of equality with the 1st world, hopes of honor to call myself a proud Pakistani that I always was, but ashamed under leadership of the percentage man.
With anger in my spine, and an incapacitated brain, I hurled abuses at anyone who gave me the news of an NS victory, or someone who hadn’t voted for change!! A dejected overseas Pakistani (as I righteously call myself) had failed to help Imran bring Hope and Change.
A dejected man writes this note from a flight back to Dubai, buried with unaccomplished dreams deep down in his heart. I was told by my father, that my elders made sacrifices for a muslim homeland, a nation was born but the humans that lived inside us died, along with the father of the nation. Our holy book says that “never will a nation’s fortunes change, if we the people are not willing to change” More dejected than I was, I was somewhat happy that my grand father was not alive to see this day, a man who had sacrificed his fortune, for a muslim land we once called home.
Imran failed to probably shake us hard enough. I maybe a punjabi coming back to Dubai, but not at all, a proud Pakistani is on a flight back home. Years later, if my little girl grows up to question me, I will hold my head held high, telling her that my conscience is satisfied for I fought for what was right! I fought with all the power I had inside me, to change fortunes of my people, and most importantly of my children.
With hope in my heart, and dreams in my mind, I will be strong to stand up, yet again. We live to fight this battle another day, yet again!! Because, that’s what the winner Imran Khan calls it, Naya Pakistan, InshAllah.
Fardan Khalid – A Pakistani & a true Insafian till the last breath!!
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”.