MUZAFFARHGARH: For the last 50 years, he has been known as Chacha Mushtaq Cholaywala.
Today, this 70-year-old resident of Qaaim Waala Colony, whose real name is Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, is contesting a provincial assembly seat (PP-254). For all these decades, he has wandered the streets of Muzaffargarh, selling his cholas. He took up the profession after failing to land a job, despite being a graduate.
As he speaks to The Express Tribune, his frustration with the current system, the same faces, is evident.
After being denied tickets from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Mushtaq is contesting as an independent candidate.
“All political parties are in the grip of feudal dictators,” Mushtaq says vehemently. “Be it PTI, PML-N or the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), they all seek political figures that either support the status quo or support opportunism. [People like me] can do nothing, even if we are elected, because all those sitting there already have factories and murabbay, and I have nothing.”
Mushtaq adds. “Everyone knows the reality. Sixty years of capitalistic parliamentary history makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.”
According to Mushtaq, the political process is flawed, because there is simply no equality and no distribution of resources amongst political candidates.
“I go for political campaigns in this hot weather on my bicycle, while my rivals sit comfortably in land cruisers. I cannot even dream of owning such a vehicle in my life,” he remarks.
And yet, even considering all odds, his optimism and hope are inspiring.
“I will never lose hope,” he states calmly. “I have faith in Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Pakistan, where one can live and contest freely. The middle and lower classes have a chance; they just need unity and hope.”
Chacha Mushtaq’s bravado must be admired. He is set to lock horns against PML-N’s Hamad Nawaz Tipu and PTI’s Abdul Hayi Dasti, both feudal lords with powerful backing.
Armed with the symbol of the trolley, carried by daily wage labourers, and the knowledge that he won as a general councilor from union council 36 in the local bodies’ elections of 2006, he believes he can, once again, defeat the likes of established political parties.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2013.