Bringing change: People freeze so others don’t have to in the next elections

About a thousand people were expected, but only a fraction of that number turned up.

Express December 26, 2011

KARACHI: Though the mercury dropped a little lower on Saturday, the chilly winds were not the reason why about a hundred people ‘froze’ near Zamzama Park - they did so to make sure that the youth cast their votes in the next election.

Though around a thousand people were expected to participate in the event, only a fraction of that figure turned up. A few moments before 4:30 pm, the time at which the activities were to start, the administration of Zamzama Park told the organisers to take the crowd elsewhere as they were concerned about security. The participants were undeterred - they decided to go ahead with their plans at a parking lot situated next to the park.

At the beginning of the event, the participants, who were holding leaflets with the word ‘vote’ written across them in bold letters, arranged themselves in a circle. A whistle was blown after which they started walking about in different directions. The whistle was blown again and the participants froze. They remained this way for almost two minutes after which the whistle was blown for the third time to signal that they were free to move about again. This procedure then repeated.

ActOne, an organisation promoting arts and wellness in Pakistan, coordinated with Origami, an event managing firm, so that the freeze mob could be held simultaneously in Lahore and Islamabad.

Three student organisations from different universities, namely the Social Welfare and Trust from the Institute of Business and Management, ‘Jaag Meray Talib-e-Ilm’ from Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology and ‘Rahnuma’ from Indus Valley School of Arts and Architecture, coordinated with ActOne. One of the organisers, Hazan-D, said that they are not affiliated with any political party. “We just want the educated people of the country to be a part of the decision making,” he said. We do not want voters influenced by the landlords, he added.

A group of students from the Asian Institute of Fashion Design said that all wanted ‘inquilab’ (revolution). But Madiha Vaswani, said that she doesn’t think that the event would raise any awareness. “I don’t think people will be inspired to vote this way,” she said. Her friends added that the younger generations support Imran Khan because he is the best option.

Talha, a 16-year-old student from College of Accounting and Management Sciences, said that he learnt about the event on Facebook and decided to participate with his friends, even though he won’t be able to vote in the next election. “I will vote when I can,” he said.

Though the participants were mostly from the younger generations, a few adults were also present. Rubina Babar had come to the event with her daughter. She said that a change can only be brought about if young people vote.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2011.

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