KARACHI: The so-called electables in Sindh are likely to face stiff resistance during their campaigns this election season as voters, particularly the youth, seem to have decided to register their disapproval over the previous government’s poor performance.
Several videos have surfaced on social media over the past few days featuring feudal lords, who were once not to be crossed, now cowering before angry crowds questioning their stature. Each day, different groups of dissidents protest, stage sit-ins and post videos through social media, announcing their decision to not vote for the status quo. They are disgruntled by the lack of quality education, health services, drinking water and the dilapidated road infrastructure.
“Vote hai zameer ka, na pir ka na mir ka,” shouted protesters who managed to surround the car of former home minister Sohail Anwar Siyal on a visit to his home constituency in Larkana. The former home minister refused to disembark from his vehicle and sped off.
On Wednesday, another video emerged of enraged voters venting their frustration with the outgoing chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah. “One of our villagers has died while pleading for a job for his son,” shouts a man in the video. “We are deprived of all faculties. Why have you come here,” he questions. The former chief minister, instead of responding to his rhetorical questions, threatened the protesters to put away their mobile phones.
In another video, former Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA Saleem Jan Mazari faced the force of voters’ anger on a visit to his constituency, which falls in Kashmoire district, a couple of weeks ago. “We need a university in the area,” several youth who have blocked the road can be seen shouting in the video. Mazari, accompanied by his guards and a local influential personality, disembarked from the car and chided the protesters for their manner of protest. The youth, however, refused to back down. “Education is our basic right,” one of the men remarked. “There is no electricity or gas in our area. But none of the assembly members have even addressed our problems,” he said. After much pleading on Mazari’s part, he was forced to leave the area assisted by his guards.
PPP’s former MPA Khursheed Junejo who is now contesting from NA-201 (Larkana-II), attempted to appease his voters, but they refused to be placated. During his campaign visit to the area, several protesters repeatedly questioned why he hadn’t bothered to visit the area in the last five years.
Junejo attempted to prove that he had visited the area after the 2013 general elections. “Ada Ahmed, can you please tell these people how many times I have visited this constituency. Is this my first visit in last five years?” Junejo asked a landlord. “I have visited four times,” he answered his own question.
When the protesters inquired the dates of his visits, Junejo replied after a pause: “I had come to condole someone’s death.” The protesters, however, would not back down and questioned his commitment towards resolving their issues. “There is no school in our village. We lack basic health facilities. You had promised to give us all facilities, but all in vain,” one of the protesters shouted. In response, Junejo said: “I will look into the matter after the next general elections.”
Senior journalist Nisar Khokhar termed it a social media revolution. He explained that with the passage of time, people had become more aware of their rights. “In the old days, no one dared talk about such issues and votes were cast on the whims of petty landlord and influential people,” he said. “Now, the social media-savvy youth knows well their duty to hold the elected representatives accountable,” he added.
According to Sindhi writer Prof Aziz Kingrani, such dissidence is a good start, but feudal lords still have strong roots in society. “It will take time, but looking at the social media revolution, one believes change is inevitable.”