Although there had been a lot of talk about “change” and “hope” prior to the elections, it turns out that even now a major fraction of Pakistan cannot get out of the ethnic mindset.
As Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML N) moved ahead of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Movement for Justice (PTI) during the late hours of May 11, very disturbing reactions emerged online regarding the people of Punjab province (known as Punjabis).
Well done to Pathans for recognising the true value of Imran Khan. Punjabis have decided to have another 5 years of slavery. #PakElections— Maz Bonafide (@MazBONAFIDE) May 11, 2013
Bitter but true:
People be hating Punjabis coz they voted #PMLN lol.. puhlease.. There can never be a Pakistan..— ThatOnePainduGurl (@LaaLaoChittar) May 12, 2013
Since Nawaz Sharif has always had a stronghold in Punjab during his previous two terms, he has been infamous for his linguistic bigotry. And this particular trait of the rulers in this country has always been a major concern. This time around, especially on the social media platforms, people expected Imran Khan’s PTI to be the next big political part in the country since Khan didn’t really execute any signs of linguistic or racial discrimination in his said policies and agendas.
Former government Pakistan Peoples Part (PPP) was widely perceived as a political party serving the interests of a particular section of the population throughout its rule. This left the rest of the nation aggravated and made Khan an even more viable option based on his unbiased political leanings. Facebook and Twitter were (beyond) rife with praise and support for the former cricketer. And this online support had been garnered over a period of almost three to four years.
But when PML (N) began to surge ahead in election count especially with overwhelming support in the province of Punjab, a rather ugly discussion sparked off on the social media platforms. A discussion so wrong that shouldn’t have been initiated in the first place as the people taking part in it were the very people who were hoping for a better future for their country a few hours ago.
Though it’s true that the public is wrong to start off this kind of debate now, but the fact is that they have strong basis to criticize Nawaz Sharif for his previous two terms which were probably the worst, developmentally speaking, for all the other provinces other than his own. The bitterness, however vile it may be, has roots in Sharif’s previous conduct as a ruler. It’s therefore his responsibility to work really hard to rid the people of all the doubts and concerns for successful and effective leadership.
Meanwhile, a better future for the country can only be acquired if one starts the change from within. The bitter comments about the Punjabi community are proof of the fact that the people of Pakistan do not need a change in the system; they need it in their mindset. Abusing a particular group of people for the election of a former failed ruler is not the way to go about change.
The overly-negative reaction on the social media website reminds us of the fact why we haven’t been able to overcome our problems yet. It makes no sense to curse or laud the Pashtun community to vote for Imran Khan and the Punjabi community to vote for Nawaz Sharif. It’s just a sad reminder that the Pakistani nation has to learn and change as individuals before revolutionizing the corrupt system.
Also, it’s true that the frequent incidents of rigging and harassing of the polling staff during the voting procedure left a huge question mark on the whole idea of “free and fair” democratic electoral process but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the nation has to engage in an argument based on linguistic differences. It’s pointless if the people of Pakistan really want to see some positive development in near future. Internal conflict (of ideologies) is the last thing this country needs right now.
If a choice has been made, it ought to be respected. One should agree to disagree. It’s sad to see the term “Punjabis” trending on Twitter. Either for praise or for swearing, ethnic associations for any purpose will not do any good for the people of Pakistan. These online arguments and discussions are never trivial, not in this age we are living in. These social media platforms are one of the most important reasons why the voter turnout this year, especially among the youth of the country, was higher than ever before. The awareness, the sharing of ideologies and viewpoints on these microblogging sites considerably helped to shape political choices and leanings. Anything that sparks online now often makes its way into the real world.
That said, it’s time to let go of grudges and any sort of “sorting” among the nation. Do not fuel the differences, remove them. Pakistan needs to stand united now more than ever. Developed nations like the United States and the United Kingdom were not made in sixty or seventy years. It took more than a hundred years for them to evolve into the nations they are now.
Stand united and work for a better tomorrow!