“Revolution” seems to have re-entered the public debate lately. But recent events once again raise the question – who is the “public” in this debate?
Last year it was “the Bangladesh option” that was on the tongues of all of the chattering class. Lately, Altaf Bhai’s talk about “patriotic generals” and the French revolution has re-inspired the dreams of the talking heads. But these people exist in climate controlled studios and expansive flats with all the modern conveniences. In a nation of 160 Million people with a Gross National Income per captia of under Rs.85,000 (US $1,000) and a literacy rate of about 55 percent – what do the common people think?
In a way, it’s hard to know what the common people think because usually nobody cares to ask them. Sure, there are a lot of people who claim to speak for the masses, but when was the last time Shahid Masood had a hawker or a farmer or someone’s driver on his show to discuss their “Views on the News”?
The only time the common people are asked what they think is when they are asked to select the person they want to represent their interests and opinions in the assemblies. So if we want to find the best measurement of the popular opinion, we should’t be looking to the media elites talking “live from satellite”, we should be looking at who people are actually voting for.
Judging by the results of yesterday’s by-poll in NA-184, the people are not clamoring for a revolution.
Khadija Waran, wife of Amir Yar Waran and candidate of Pakistan People’s Party has won by-elections in Bahawalpur’s constituency NA-184, according to unofficial results.
The unofficial results disclosed that Khadija Waran bagged 75507 votes and leading by 27362 votes. Her closest rival was Pakistan Muslim League-N’s Najeebuddin Awaisi with 48,145 votes.
Polling for by-elections in NA-184 was held today from 8 AM to 5 PM without any interruption. Reports of minor clashes were received from different parts of the constituency during the vote.
So, despite the chattering classes predictions of the demise of PPP, it seems that ruling party has at least one constituency that still supports it – the voters.
But what’s even more telling about this recent by-poll election is that it not only undermines the claims that the people want (or need) a “revolution” or that the PPP has overplayed its hand is unpopular with the masses. It also exposes the media elites for being completely out of touch with the people about what issues matter most.
For months now we’ve been hearing all manner of funeral speeches for the government because a handful of people had “fake degrees”. This was an issue that was created and cared for only by the media – and even some of those darlings were unimpressed.
But the NA-184 by-poll proves that outside of the comfort of Geo’s studios, nobody really cares. The newly elected MNA, Khadija Waran, is wife of Amir Yar Waran – the outgoing MNA – who had a degree declared fake. If the people really thought fake degrees was important and that PPP was discredited, wouldn’t they have voted for someone else? Certainly so.
But the voters did no such thing. Rather, they spoke clearly with their ballots: We don’t care about fake degrees issue. We don’t want “revolution”. We want the government to be given the opportunity to work.
Salman Tarik Kureshi makes a perfect point yesterday:
For a nation like Pakistan, with no monarchs to behead and an already extant constitutional democracy to run, the concept of revolution is irrelevant. We would only add a few million more violent deaths to the numbers already generated by the Partition massacres, the East Pakistan civil war, the military actions against the rebels in Balochistan and the MRD (Movement for Restoration of Democracy) movement in Sindh, the sectarian killings in Punjab, the ethnic killings in Karachi, the continuing terrorist atrocities and so on and so forth.
We are fortunate to have already established an independent republic, a democratic system, popular sovereignty and a constitution. It is these we need to cherish and nurture.
The decision to change the government lies not with carefully coiffed media talking heads and wannabe revolutionaries. The decision lies with the people only. If they want a revolution, they will make it at the ballot box. Judging by the actual votes of the people, they’re not interested.