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Imran Khan and Pakistan's D-DayGul Jammas Hussain Salem-News.com
In many urban and semi-urban areas, numerous PML-N and PPP candidates are buying votes in many other ways.
(TEHRAN) - Over the years Imran Khan has made a habit of winning against the odds, but the May 11 parliamentary election in Pakistan will perhaps be the toughest test of his 40-year public life.
Not only will the election determine Khan’s status in Pakistani politics, but also it will decide which path the country would take -- a path leading toward a new, democratic, tolerant and progressive Pakistan or a path returning to the old, feudalistic, and intolerant Pakistan.
Khan’s young Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is competing with the old and established political parties -- Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and Asif Ali Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) -- to win the greatest number of the seats in the parliament.
The country is holding election for the 272 directly elected seats in the National Assembly, and an additional 70 seats will be allocated on the basis of each party’s share of the directly elected seats. The election for a total of 577 seats in the four provincial assemblies will also be held on Saturday.
The PML-N and the PPP have been in power for decades and the parties have made billions and billions of dollars by plundering the national exchequer and by exploiting the power in their favor during their days in office. The parties are now using this money to clinch a victory in the election.
Both parties, particularly the PML-N, have invested heavily in newspaper journalists, newspaper owners, private television owners, TV journalists, and opinion poll conductors to change public opinion in their favor and demoralize PTI supporters.
The PML-N and PPP candidates -- mostly aging decadent feudal landlords or their sons, in some cases their daughters, nouveau riche industrialists and property developers -- are also deeply entrenched in their constituencies. They have invested public funds as if it was their own money in their favorite areas, which they think will pay off in a plurality of votes for them.
In many urban and semi-urban areas, numerous PML-N and PPP candidates are buying votes in many other ways. Those families that have a good number of votes are being offered motorcycles, televisions, refrigerators, cash money or jobs for their family members by the candidates. In return, the families have pledged to cast votes in their favor.
In such an atmosphere, realistically speaking, the PTI candidates, who are mostly new, young and inexperienced in politics, may not stand a chance, but Khan’s unlimited passion to see a better Pakistan and his never say-yes-to-defeat attitude has inspired millions of people across the country to join his, what he calls, democracy tsunami.
However, the democracy tsunami is limited to urban and semi-urban areas and has not reached with its full strength to Pakistan’s sprawling rural areas where nearly sixty percent of the registered voters reside and where the feudal landlords’ grip on power is still very strong.
People’s thinking in rural Pakistan is also very different from that of their counterparts residing in urban areas. The Pakistan village is still more or less an independent unit. The village does not need much from the state, but provides a lot to it. Every Pakistan village has two or three so-called headmen who decide for the villagers for whom they should vote. Usually, these headmen have long-established connections with their areas’ members of the parliament -- mostly dynastic politicians. The headmen do not change their loyalties easily. They do not care much about the fact that one candidate may be better or worse for the country; they only care who is good for them and their areas.
The PML-N and PPP candidates have established firm connections with the village headmen, or village lackeys as many Pakistanis call them.
Despite all these problems, the PTI’s workers have convinced millions of Pakistanis, particularly the youth, to join the democracy tsunami and contribute in making a new, democratic, tolerant and progressive Pakistan. Because of their efforts, the PTI is all set to steam past the PPP and possibly surpass the mighty PML-N, which has gathered every corrupt and dynastic politician known to be electable into its fold. And the PML-N is also backed by certain external powers, which have traditionally influenced the Pakistani politics.
In Saturday’s election, even if the PTI does not garner the seats required to form a government but wins a number of them equal to what the PML-N captures or close to it, such an outcome would definitely be considered a decisive victory for the young party and a good omen of a democratic future for Pakistan.
The writer, Gul Jammas Hussain, is a Pakistani journalist based in Tehran. Gul's writing takes into account the long struggle of the Palestinian people, whose plight is largely ignored by western media. Salem-News.com is extremely pleased to feature the work of Gul Hussain as we believe that Americans and other western people, need to receive information about the Middle East, from the Middle East, whenever possible. We are glad to amplify the voice of Gul and other writers who seek to deliver true, unfiltered information to the world at large.
If you would like to contact Gul Jammas Hussain in Tehran, you can send an email to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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