I will not vote for Imran Khan
A lot more was expected of a party that is dominated by the elite, youth and the educated.
In less than a week’s time Pakistan reaches a historic milestone- we vote! One might be a little sceptical of how free and fair these upcoming elections might be, but regardless, this will definitely be an achievement for us as a nation and it will prove that the democratic process seems to be thriving in Pakistan.
As a citizen of Karachi, I have had a history of having unorthodox political views and have enjoyed being the odd one out, not concurring with the masses and arguing endlessly. However, what has alarmed me recently is that it has become increasingly difficult to not be someone swept by the tsunami.
These days, it seems as if you have committed a crime if you don’t believe in the “Naya Pakistan” that Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) promise.
To address this issue, I have decided to take every conversation I have had attempting to convert an Insafian into someone rational and put it in one place.
Let’s begin by addressing the “we haven’t been tried and tested” argument.
Khan himself has spent over four illustrious years in the parliament, during which he chose to vote for Maulana Fazlur Rehman for prime minister and voted against a women rights bill that would require rape victims to present scientific evidence rather than four witnesses to prove their assailants guilty. These two moves on Khan’s part are considered unimpressive.
The standard retort is that Khan was a lone member of the national assembly (MNA), what could’ve been expected of him to achieve? Well, of a leader of his alleged calibre, in a span of four years, the world is expected.
Let’s not forget that one of this recent government’s very popular achievements, the prohibition of corporal punishment in government institutions, was the result of a private member bill.
Additionally, the likes of Javed Hashmi, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Azam Khan Swati, who are all former ministers and members of the PTI Executive Committee, countless other Insafians have spent ample time in government just not under the PTI flag and, dare I say it, “have been tried and tested”.
Moving on, let’s talk about the real problem with Khan - his stance (or audacity really) to negotiate with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
I strongly feel like there is no room for negotiations with that horde of barbarians because there is simply no middle ground. There is nowhere that the TTP can be met halfway. They have three very clear demands - Pakistan must break off all relations with the United States, Pakistan must accept their version of Shariah law, and must restore the caliphate.
The first demand might be a matter of foreign policy, but the second and third are matters of lunacy. How will these negotiations even go about?
What we can do is ban music but can’t ban women from driving cars?
And let’s not forget that TTP feels that all minorities from Shias to Ahmadis to Hindus are ‘wajib-ul-qatal’ (allowed by religion to be killed). Now, will we give up a piece of our country and gift it to TTP to rule so that they may impose their barbaric practices openly on a few Pakistanis before moving south?
Another reason why it is impossible to maintain that middle ground is because TTP is unreasonable and not trust worthy. We have seen them time and again dishonour peace deals while using that time to consolidate and regroup. Imran Khan himself could only enter Waziristan and his infamous drone march had to return from Tank; so do we expect him to get the TTP to put down arms and become responsible citizens of the Islamic Welfare State of Pakistan?
Regardless, what is truly beyond reason is that these are the same people that have openly and boastfully admitted killing thousands of our innocent men, women and children. They have beheaded our brave soldiers and attacked hospitals, schools, shrines and places of worship, and are now even preventing three provinces of Pakistan from taking part in the election process by bombing electioneers and campaigners and threatening voters. I for one can never come to terms with what they have already done and even consider dialogue as the thought is cowardly and treasonous. TTP is a force that must be crushed, not appeased.
Also, if Khan was truly the leader he claims to be, he should have openly and strongly condemned the threat the TTP posed to the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and exempted his party from the patronising and disgusting offer of protection. He has instead chosen to allow his rivals to burn and die while he sets the record for most rallies conducted in a specified amount of time - not very free and fair.
To conclude, all that needs to be said is that while I am somewhat impressed by the political acumen (in terms of certain policy issues) and stamina the PTI possesses, a lot more was expected of a party that claims to be dominated by the urban elite and the educated and claims to represent the youth of my country.
I might be starving for leadership that I could be proud of - a leader that is attempting to change the face of my country for the better, but I will not allow blind support to cloud my judgment and rationality and I will not vote for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
Follow Shahryar on Twitter @Shahryar92