For the majority of people in Pakistan ‘free elections’ mean free meals, free fun, and free holidays. Whatever the lawyers, disposed judges, media, APDM and civil society says of boycotting the elections, the thing is that majority of our population, who lives in the villages and is illiterate and ill-informed is not boycotting.
Elections are the times of fanfare and festivals. It is one of those rare times for these people to extract anything from their candidates. These candidates are normally the Chaudhary, Khan, Sardar or Wadera of that area, who do nothing but open a ‘Lunger’ on their ‘deras’ for the masses. People come there; eat lavish meals, and take tea, smoke for free, praise the candidate, and leave to comeback the next day to reiterate the short-lived saga.
Besides of free food, people eagerly await the public meetings and processions and the ultimate day of election. As all these become a source of income for them. Candidates typically pay from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1000 to each individual to participate in their public meetings, and on Election Day, they cash their votes. The cost of vote depends upon the number of votes. The more the votes you have, the more prices you are going to receive. Votes are precious in the fatherland.
Many people wonder that why exactly people elect the same person or the same family member again and again in every election, despite of the lack of any development in the area. People live in the same dingy localities with no electricity, no gas, no running water, no sewerage, no education, no infrastructure, no health facilities, and no employment opportunities and yet in the next election, they once again elect the same crook, who last time promised to make their area nothing less than a paradise.
The truth is that people don’t really care much about that. What their care is their vested interests. In villages, they are more concerned about ‘Thana’ and ‘Kachehry’ rather than the development. They are more concerned about the attendance of their elected member in the funerals and wedding rather than the education and health progress for their children. They care more about the volume and quality of the meals and price of the votes rather than the larger interest of the country.
Elections not only provide a golden chance to people to enjoy and earn, They also expedite the economy as these candidates open up their Ali Baba’s treasures and start investing in their publicity. Printers, hoarding, board, banner, poster manufacturer revel in receiving big orders from the candidates, as the aspirants for the bigger office want their names, achievements, promises more vivid and visible than their rivals. They not only use the printed form, but in these elections they are fully exploiting the power of cable TV network, which must cost a fortune to them.
Doesn’t it seem paradoxical that a country which is so poor can manage to spend so much on the Election campaigns? If only this money had been spent on the welfare of the people, Pakistan would have been a different country altogether.