Clash of the Biradiris

Clash of the Biradiris

The dawn of October 31st 2015 saw yet another entrenchment of the basic pillar of democracy. Opinions might differ but the local bodies elections were another milestone in strengthening the ‘Nizam e Jamhooriat’ in Pakistan.

Different analysts have argued that the results of the election were a victory for some and defeat for other political parties. What majority of them fail to highlight is that local government election goes down to the grassroot level. Everyone and anyone is suddenly a politician and is a contender in the poll. Biradirism is the nucleus for any election in most parts of Pakistan. Punjab however witnesses the most influence when it comes to voting. A ‘Shah’ will only vote for a ‘Shah’ , a ‘Jutt’ will only vote for a ‘Jutt’ there is no second opinion on that. A dramatic or emotional speech by an elder from the respective biradiri is sufficient consideration for the helpless voter who is in no way allowed to disagree and will eventually end up voting for whomever he is instructed to vote for.

Blaming any party or its leaders for defeat is very easy for a layman analyzing the outcome on social media from the comfort of their living room, however one must understand that if three members of the same clan are contending then it does not matter whether they are waving bats, arrows or lions. What matters is the difference of a few numbers which decide their fate at the end of the day. Take for example Faisalabad where two groups belonging to the same party were in the run for local power. Moreover it was merely a matter of ego rather than the empty slogans desiring progress in the country. Chakwal yet again is another example where the independent group led by Sardar Abbas succeeded in securing a majority hence proving party affiliations to be of little importance. It is pertinent to mention the defeat of various family members of sitting parliamentarians which hereby seconds the argument that the dynamics of the local body (LB) elections are way different than that of the general elections. Urban cities might prove to be an exception to this but what happens in the the rural areas which are in majority, is what matters the most.

Speaking of rural areas, I personally witnessed a prominent personality from the world of journalism, also very closely related to the famous ‘chirya’ of Pakistan, running a door-to-door campaign and canvassing for candidates she had personally fielded in Shergarh Okara. May it be a personal quest for territorial popularity or a rift in the local biradiri, the supposed unbiased nature of journalism was quashed in an instant by her as she was smiling down from the huge flexes and banners plastered all over the city. But will she be answerable to anyone? I think not. Because you may catechize a politician, judge, businessman or anyone for that matter but you dare not question anyone from the media, you just don’t. And obviously the use of official state machinery for these purposes is not a big deal either.

On a lighter note, the role of the media in bringing forward the various violations of the code of conduct is commendable.

Sindh on the other hand has once again proved that haters are always going to hate yet the slogan ‘aj bhee Bhutto zinda hai‘ remains alive. Bhuttos are the only biradiri whose name is sufficient for the Sindhis who have decided from time to time not to ask for their basic rights like education and development but only an affiliation with Bhutto.

The government’s policy can lead to the building of roads, introduce metro buses and create a bubble of development for people to see but the concept of voting according to their respective biradiris blatantly shows a lack of education. Obviously no one wants the masses to be educated enough to demand their rights freely, how else will the biradiris be ‘The Biradiris‘.

Advocating change, Imran Khan may not be the desirable leader for many but due credit should be given when it comes to change in mindsets. The participation of women voters in rural areas is and should be a reason to feel dismayed while talking about progression. Yet it is still considered progress in a country where the greatest shame for an expectant mother was to give birth to a girl who would eventually be buried alive by the father.

Meanwhile merely sugar coating the fact that the LB elections were a democratic achievement is in no way a permit to ignore the government’s  incompetency in holding a free, fair and peaceful election. People are still crying over Imran and Reham Khan’s divorce but I do not see any candle light vigil being held for a dozen people killed in Khairpur. The entire polling day was marred with reports of violence throughout Punjab and Sindh and as usual the grievances of PTI over changed voter lists and all sorts of discrepancies remained unaddressed. Polling staff was yet again not sufficiently trained which is a clear indication that the PML(N) government couldn’t care less. Not to mention a jailed convict securing a seat on a PML(N) ticket.

The painful irony in this whole situation is that the masses are clearly happy with what they have and by voting again and again for the same people in exchange for roads and a few jobs for family members proves that the long due change in the system is still due. With the exception of one, the entire chain of command running the country is flawed. Who is to blame? It is we the helpless citizens of Pakistan so used to being victimized by the powerful that we forget to stand up for what Quaid guided us to.

 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization with which he might be associated.

Syed Kaswar Gardezi

The writer is a student of law at the University of London and an intern at a Lahore based law firm.