Mohammad Jibran Nasir, a 26-year-old lawyer is determined to give seasoned +politicians a tough time in NA-250 because he believes he has the courage to address issues others shy away from.
Facing this independent candidate on the national assembly seat are Jamaat-i-Islami’s Niamatullah Khan, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Khushbakht Shujaat, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Dr Arif Alvi and Pakistan Peoples Party’s Rashid Rabbani. Nasir is also contesting the related provincial assembly seat, PS-113, which covers DHA and its surrounding areas.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Nasir fearlessly stated his political convictions as he addressed issues such as the blasphemy laws, removing hate-speech from school curriculum, minorities’ representation in assemblies, marital rape, forced conversions and special courts for racially and religiously motivated violence.
“I have tried to embed certain hard-hitting points in the manifesto which our political parties despite their millions of voters do not dare to talk about.” Nasir has risked his dream job at a leading law firm to pursue politics full time, even though his parents are fearful for their son’s life.
In a white shalwar kameez with a small Pakistani flag on his chest, the Lécole for Advanced Studies and Northumbria School of Law, UK, alumnus had no qualms about calling himself a “common man”. His father exhausted his life-savings on his education – a little less than one million rupees only on a law degree from Lécole. Later, his uncle supported his post-graduation from the UK. “I fear how my family is going to pay bills for four months from now if I do not find a job immediately after the elections.”
Nasir has been involved in various charitable ventures for the past three years – volunteering for relief work after the floods and after the Abbas Town blasts, in particular. But he felt that these activities were merely damage control. “Such remedial work would not affect the minds of the people, the policies of the government, our education curriculum to develop a new positive thinking for the Pakistan of tomorrow,” he said. With the conviction to bring about change from the top, Nasir decided to take forward the voice of the common man.
As he gears up to campaign for the elections, Nasir refused to plaster the walls of his constituency with huge billboards and life-sized posters of himself. Rather, he decided to spend the money fixing sewers, removing garbage and placing waste bins, and helping those in need of immediate help. “I am recording this experience as a model campaign for the MQM, PTI, JI and the PPP to adopt.”
According to Nasir, he is expecting around 10,000 votes because if he aimed to win then he would have to twist his ideals, obscure his perspectives and sugar-coat his words. “Right now my aim is not to win the election because for that I will have to make a number of false promises,” he accepted. “I only aim to win the elections in a fair manner while being completely true to my voters,” he said, adding that if he stays truthful, he won’t be able to get more than 10,000 votes.
“If my miserable failure serves to educate the people, then I will pay my duty to the society,” he said. “People should learn that telling the truth requires a lot of courage and that it’s a long, but right road.”
For more details on his campaign log on to www.facebook.com/Mohammadjibrannasir
‘DHA parks have become red-light districts’
Independent candidate for NA-250, Mohammad Jibran Nasir, pointed out that the commercial areas of DHA and Clifton and parks in the neighbourhood have been allowed to become unofficial red-light districts. “When a friend of mine strolls down the street from Espresso on Zamzama towards Pie in the Sky, she gets offers hurling her way.” They shout, “Chalo gi?” assuming she is a sex worker.
Nasir also wants to shift all diplomatic missions, consulates and embassies out of DHA and Clifton and proposes a diplomatic enclave on the city outskirts. “Being high-value targets, their presence in residential areas poses a mutual threat to the residents as well as the staff.”
He also opposed the expansion and security protocol of political palaces, including Bilawal House, which had deprived commuters of roads meant for public access. To prevent street crimes, he suggested strategic placement of the police at sensitive points, such as Korangi Road and Punjab Chowrangi, where people get mugged everyday in broad daylight.
Why Nasir decided to contest
The reason why NA-250 independent candidate Jibran Nasir did not align with any political party is because he failed to find one that he wanted to vote for. This and the fact that he wanted to prove that a concerned citizen has lost all hope with political parties. “All you need is a bit of will to take politics out of the drawing rooms,” he said.
Nasir was an ardent supporter of the PTI, until he felt that the party was merely changing faces and not policies and mindsets. “When you talk about change, then what are you doing differently from ‘Noon’ and ‘Qaaf’ leagues?” he asked, referring to PML-N and PML-Q. The young lawyer came across his rival candidate, Dr Arif Alvi, nearly 14 years ago for a dental check-up and remembers him as a wonderful dentist. It is the PTI’s policies that he doesn’t see eye to eye with.
JI’s Niamatullah Khan is, in Nasir’s opinion, a wonderful administrator. “An elected member of parliament has to play, however, an entirely different role as compared to a mayor that he was,” he said. He felt, however, that Khan’s religious affiliation will come in to play when he has to form policies on issues, such as abortion, marital rape, or blasphemy laws. “He is bound by the party manifesto, which does not talk about these issues.”
Despite his appreciation for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for being secular and never misusing ‘Islam’ for politics, he could not make concessions on the “party’s violent history outside of politics”. He also felt the party failed to act even when it had the opportunity. “A party that has the power to close down the city in five minutes, does not have the power to solve even the city’s sewerage and sanitation problems in the past five years.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2013.
Note: In an earlier version of this story, Nasir was quoted as saying that he gave up his dream job to pursue politics full time. Nasir has retracted his statement and the article has been revised to accommodate this change.