Prepare for battle | Pakistan Today

Prepare for battle

  • Little time to go now

What would normally be the vacation season in the country has turned out to be the busiest workwise. Amidst the scorching heat of the sun, the countrymen are busy prepping up. Its election season for the Pakistanis.

Step by step the politicians are battling the odds in a quest for victory. The first round? Nomination papers. Second? Party tickets. Third? Election tribunal. Fourth? The final battle.

To begin with, the candidates remained daggers drawn to get their nomination papers accepted and their opponents’ rejected. As if the returning officer’s weren’t enough, most of the candidates approached the election tribunal of the Lahore High Court in a bid to oust their opponents before the final leg of the battle. While some faces shined with bright smiles, the other remained heartbroken. Political temperatures naturally face an all-time high, at the moment. Not just traditional political opponents but close family members are also face to face.

Once the majority cleared the nomination papers stage, then came the struggle for the party tickets. With a few of the confirmed tickets being awarded, almost every constituency had multiple hopefuls for the ticket. PTI stumbled the most when it came to the award of party tickets. They backtracked the most on earlier decisions recalling a few tickets and awarding the same to other candidates. Even Bani Gala for the first time faced protests and sit-ins by the workers lodging protests against award of tickets to new entrants. The two factions present within PTI didn’t remain behind the curtains and came out in the open. Imran Khan himself had to eventually acknowledge their presence.

Nevertheless, the battle for tickets now over, the candidates can focus on the final leg of the long drawn battle. Not with peace of mind though. A lot many candidates rejected during the ticketing process have stepped into the arena as independent candidates. They might now win but may well serve a significant dent in the insaafians’ vote bank.

As the day of battle approaches so does the nervousness rise for all candidates

PML-N on the other hand had its own set of woes. Where at certain places they had to pick and choose between multiple candidates, the same had to face humiliation at the hands of a significant number of candidates. Mostly from the South Punjab, the N league candidates returned confirmed party tickets and refused to contest under the lion’s banner. A troublesome development for Shahbaz, who has announced himself as the next Prime Minister, an unlikely development though. Though certain contested areas did face backlash over the award of party tickets. Leaders draped in chains took to the streets outside model town in a move to register their protest.

The former prime minister had two sleepless nights before being granted relief by the High Court. His nomination papers rejected and he found himself disqualified for life. A final decision on his eligibility has to be made yet however, for the time being Khaqan Abbasi can consider himself in the list of eligible candidates.

With the prerequisites of the battle now done away with, the preparation for the final battle has begun. Official campaigns have been launched by all quarters. Bilawal, by introducing his manifesto for the upcoming elections. Shahbaz, by unveiling his singing skills. Imran Khan, by taking refuge at the Dargah of Baba Farid.

No debate about whether he prostrated before the shrine or merely kissed out of devotion. It is a very common practice for devotees to kiss the entrance to the shrine before entering. To the extent that Khan himself visits shrines of revered Sufis in a bid to have his prayers answered is of no concern to the general public. However, when leaders within his party employ religion as a campaigning tool that is worrisome. We already have fanaticism abundantly present within the citizenry and enough tools to exploit the same. If educated parties such as PTI will also join ranks in calling out religious slogans so as to proclaim victory then our country rather than progressing would go back to where it was a decade ago.

Most of the leaders have highlighted the issue of ‘Khatam e Naboowat (PBUH)’ for gaining mileage in the electoral race. Democracy, as we proclaim it to be, shouldn’t be based upon religious sentiments because the same cloud our judgement. Instead of religion dominating the canvassing for the election, candidates should provide effective solutions to the general public’s problems rather than hiding behind religion. People should be able to choose their leaders in a transparent manner without the sword of religion handing on their heads.

PTI should focus on its manifesto and their proposed solution to the everyday problems of the common man. Effective solutions are the only way forward for them and the country. Focus on the prevalent problems such as the water crisis and the FATF list would be more prudent.

Be that as it may, the ball is in the people’s court now. In spite of whatever campaign promises that the candidates may make, the people of today need to use the power of their thumb. Every individual might have his or her own views about progress and betterment however, I would merely urge everyone to exercise their right in a manner which serves the best interests of the country and not based on populist movements for any one party.

As the day of battle approaches so does the nervousness rise for all candidates. Despite strong positions a margin of last minute upset always remains. This battle which defines the course of the future for five years is the most important political battle that the country encounters. Amidst the fervour of elections, the politicians who spend their days and nights in air conditioned mansions are out in the open. With disregard to the hot weather the leaders leave the comfort of their homes and work tirelessly to get themselves elected. For once, it actually seems as if they are akin to the common man. Of course, the real faces are exposed once the dust settles following the battle.

Till then, the gladiators remain charged up in the arena.