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The battle for Karachi – a fight for our rights!

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Contrary to popular belief, General Elections were held in Karachi too. Well, atleast one party says so. The others claim that elections were never held in Karachi. And by God, we the citizens of Karachi, bear witness to it.

The people of Karachi were misguided to think their vote actually meant something. They were misguided to think if they step out of their homes to do what they can for change, somebody is actually going to care. The state, the judiciary, the media, all seem impervious to the state of Karachi and the strong resentment that Karachiites are filled with, against the rigging.

Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the two large parties after MQM in Karachi, have taken the mantle for demanding re-elections in Karachi. And public sentiments are with them. Infact, perhaps that is the reason why no one is interested. Perhaps if a militia-backed party had violated Karachi streets in protests, the way they did on Election Day, Pakistan and its stakeholders would have been interested.

The bottom line is this : Karachi revolted. The vote bank of MQM is shifting. These elections were a chance for Karachi to let parties know they cannot terorrise and rule over them much longer. Their electoral revolt however, was cruelly stifled and killed. The powers in government / establishment it seems, don’t really care about Karachi. We have been handed back to the rule of tyranny. It seems Karachi has not shed enough tears, has not lost enough blood.

Even though Karachi contributes massively to Pakistan’s economy, and continues to display unflinching resilience in their daily lives, it seems the people of Karachi have been assigned to the dustbins of Pakistan’s national matters. Are just and fair elections really too much to ask? Is it too much to ask of the media to give fair coverage to the undeniable expression of truth on the streets of Karachi that the elections were massively and shamefully rigged, and that the current results DO NOT represent the mandate of the people?

A lot of pseudo-intellectuals have done nothing but expressed dissent over the protests, mocking it as unruly behaviour and a means to disturb the stability of Karachi. How stable exactly, is Karachi in its current state may I ask? How safe is it for a citizen to roam on the streets? How safe is it for someone to question illegal protection money, and the use of force to effect acquiescence?

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Why does the protests of JI and PTI irk you so much? Which of their demands does not seem reasonable? Why has fighting for your rights become such a degradable concept? Did the people who mock us really think change would come without any agitation? Did you have in mind that people were going to smile and accept the absolute thuggery displayed on the polling stations? The whole city witnessed first hand the hi-jacking of polling stations, the by-force ballot paper stamping, the stamps without ID cards, the screening of pro-MQM voters and the theft of polling rights of the people who weren’t. What, did the people mocking the protests think no one is going to revolt?

Loopholes in ECP preparations were already made before elections. JI most of all, had repeatedly highlighted the pre-polls manipulation being orchestrated in Karachi. JI’s decision to boycott elections, questioned by many, has now proved right. MQM is pushing to grant re-elections only in NA 250, the seat where PTI made its stand by not boycotting. However, PTI stance has to be respected. These political games are new to them and Karachi is a deadly game. Keeping that in mind, PTI has responded admirably and courageously, led by Arif Alvi. He has emerged as a fine leader in the wake of Imran Khan’s injury. He has connected with the people and given Karachi a new voice. People may degrade this as a burger movement, but it is far from it. It seems people have wanted to stand against Muttehda’s domination for years and now they have got a voice they feel proudly affiliated with.

It is very disturbing to see that in crunch time, the very torchbearers of democracy and freedom are questioning Karachi’s right to exercise their freedom of choice. All those expressing dissent at Karachi protests, know that if we succeed, you will go down in the footnotes of history as people who indirectly backed oppression and the bullying of Karachi citizens.

Re-elections in Karachi are not important only for the number of seats to be gained. They are important because it is Karachi’s right to choose fairly. Even if MQM wins and they probably will, re-elections are called for in the belief that the results will show the true representation of the political parties involved.

Victories of nearly 200,000 votes affected through rigging are an effective method to stifle hope in Karachiites. Victory by small margins on the other hand, will give Karachi hope. And by God, if fair elections are held, Karachi will prove just how close they have come to ousting corrupt parties from power in Karachi.

PTI Shahra-e-Faisal Dharna - joined by Dr. Merajul Huda JI

PTI Shahra-e-Faisal Dharna – joined by Dr. Merajul Huda JI

The people of Karachi, quite frankly, are frustrated. They are tired. I was there at Shahra-e-Faisal, people are ready to stand for something. That is an acheivement. They are tired of being mugged, tired of being killed, tired of being held hostage to the whims of non-representative political clashes. Most importantly, people find it impossible to wait for another five years for justice. For if they back down now, who can guarantee the next General Elections will not be rigged?

Muttehda, through media statements in the last three days have shown Karachi how they have alienated the people of Karachi from rest of Pakistan. Terming the protests burger, and a clash of classes, is the rhetoric they have used to maintain the safety of its voters. These are bold statements, when you consider Sardar Nabeel Gabol’s transformation into Nabeel Gabol Bhai. Today, we are nothing. Just heartbroken citizens of Karachi. Our city remains hi-jacked.

This is a call from a wronged Karachiite. Keep the protests going! Day 4 – PTI and JI keep the anti-rigging protests ALIVE.

The anarchy of peaceful protests – a classic oxymoron

Could they have done anything different? Could the protests have been any other way? I mean, we all know by now that almost none of the prominent religious scholars can be trusted to raise an unconditional voice against the madness that comes automatically programmed into an average Pakistani protestor. It also remains undisputed that the large-scale protests were nothing, if not political. All religious groups and parties have proven beyond all doubt that presently, the religious scholars of this country are not fit to lead anyone.

So who can?

It may be fair to conclude that most of them did not want what ensued a month ago. However, none of them have displayed the courage of going against the popular norm. None of them publicly denounced with conviction the chaos that was taking place. No, their tone, their stance against the angry mob was how one friend might talk to another close yet misguided friend; ‘Yes I understand what you are doing and why you’re doing it, I know , I am hurt too, but please don’t do it.’

  

It’s come to a point where you’ve got to ask, ‘Who are they kidding?”. I mean, we have a long and colorful history of mass protests in which we have repeatedly exposed our distasteful disposition to violent behavior. Are our religious leaders really that naïve? Is their shock and surprise at the destructive nature of the mob really genuine? I don’t believe it, but if they expected something different, it would only go on to confirm the level of their disillusionment with reality!

As much as it saddens me to say it, for I have been a firm believer in the mantle of leadership being borne by our religious scholars, this is a combined failure of the whole religious organizational and political structure. The notion that we can be led and guided by them in these testing times has come crashing around our feet. Their wisdom and their politics both have disappointed me. The idea of religious leadership is dead.

This is what @tazeen had tweeted about them, and to which I fully agree:

Why is the protesters’ leadership called Ulma-e-Karaam by all the TV channels, surely we all know that they are hooligans.

Mufti Naeem on TV the other day, publicly denounced these acts and yet he had the audacity to talk about them in a polite and understanding manner, asking protestors to please go home and that God will reward them for their emotions and actions.

   

Does that not confuse you about the message they are trying to convey? Are our religious scholars not aware that an unruly faction is always waiting for such mass protests to create havoc, burn and loot valuables and public property? Do they not themselves recognize these events as an opportunity to promote their own agendas and display their hypnotic power over the masses, and do the protests not waiver strictly from the original purpose to everything deemed un-islamic? Why were banks and cinemas attacked and American flags trodden on and burned if that’s not the case? Their leadership and mandate has no direction; their political statements are more or less garbled insults at everything American (they are well aware of how much an average Pakistani likes to hear that).

   

On Saturday at Jauhar Chowrangi, a religious party had laid down an American flag on the road and took pictures as cars drove over it. I am greatly saddened for currently, there is no future for this country if such religious leaders continue to hold power over the masses. A peaceful protest in Pakistan is just a myth.

If you go on a social media round, as I’m sure most of you have already done, you might go on to question who the heck is on the roads when most of us seem to be in agreement on not resorting to violent discourse and adopting peaceful and more beneficial means of countering such anti-islamic propaganda. But then we all know that the majority does not have access to the internet for a start; a large majority of those who do, have not yet embraced social media. Add to that our unfortunate language barrier. As a result, we, the bloggers and the writers, only seem to be talking and discussing and expressing horror among ourselves! We may occur as intellectuals, but practically, what are we doing other than showing how sharply we can think and how eloquently we can write?

Maybe we need to ask ourselves if our efforts, with all our best intentions, are even sufficient to make a tangible difference. We debate, we argue, we discuss and exchange views. Yet this exchange and development of thoughts is not trickling down to the masses, most of which cannot even read. It’s just a theory, but there’s got to be something wrong in what we are doing. Are there any avenues for us to reach the masses? We know Pakistan does not have a vibrant reading culture. Can we reach out to the masses in a better way? Can large communities be educated through seminars and schools?

I am stumped to be honest. The only way I see to improve the situation is to break through the barrier between the intellectuals and the mere followers. How can we do that? Let’s generate ideas and share our thoughts. I am sure that when all of us start to think in these terms; we will come up with great ideas to expand the information flow from a trickle to a river.

The majority of our people only get to listen to the perpetually inflammatory media and the sermons of the self-appointed representatives of religion that are well aware that they are their only source of knowledge.

We must challenge that source. 

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