As the results of Election 2013 started coming in, and the pendulum swung in the PML- N’s favour, my Facebook newsfeed became infested with despondent statuses from PTI supporters — the gist of most was about how there is no hope for this country, that the choices of most of the citizens were uneducated, apart from those who voted for Imran Khan as he was the only one who could have saved us and how it was time for all of us to relocate to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Something that every status had in common was the ailment which I feel will be the end of us all — self-righteousness. Since Imran Khan is an upright man, as a consequence, so are his supporters?
People have “unfriended” each other over arguments and conversations of a couple of minutes have turned from a friendly debate into personal attacks. When a mutual friend tried to reason, somebody rightly pointed out, “You are apparently trying to be rational. It never works when politics, religion or Justin Beiber are concerned”.
It was unrealistic for PTI supporters to believe at any point that the PTI was going to win the elections. I know a lot of people who have knowingly and willingly voted for the MQM or the PML-N not because they were forced to but because they thought it was the right choice to make for the country. Whether most people who voted for them had sleepless nights afterwards is a discussion for another time.
However, my brave people, after all these years and after all that we’ve put one another through, continue to underestimate themselves and still want to be saved by God and more recently, by Imran Khan.
There is no doubt in my mind that Imran Khan is a good man, a born leader who has motivated this county. He did what he thought should be done as a patriot and as a citizen of Pakistan. But ultimately, it’s the people who made the change happen. And for that, we should be congratulating not just Imran Khan but one another. That is what Imran Khan ultimately wanted to achieve — more power to the people.
If Pakistan needs saving, you and I, we, have equal parts to play. It is very convenient to pass on the responsibility to a single individual as it puts one’s conscience at ease. It gives one somebody to blame if things go wrong and then wallow in collective self-pity, which is also a favourite pastime. For PTI supporters, being complacent is no longer a choice they can afford to make. If the PTI wants a shot at happily-ever-after and not go down the same road as the PPP, PTI supporters will have to be more proactive.
For PTI supporters, coming out and voting was just the first step; it took the PML-N and the MQM decades to have the kind of following that is loyal to the party and not just to the individual. PTI supporters need to decide whether they are in it for the long haul or just because Imran Khan is the more fashionable choice. It will also be interesting to see how the PTI engages its supporters to ensure continuity.
Perhaps, it is time to put more faith in principles rather than individuals. Perhaps, it is also time to be tolerant towards one another’s choices and realise that the person you are voting for is a mere mortal and has and will make mistakes like each one of us. It is time to not be a sheep and become aware of the fact that we are not as powerless as we think we are.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2013.