Emad's Blog (Under Renovation)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cheated. Robbed. Rigged!

As I write this, I struggle to keep control as a barrage of emotions gush through me. I feel wrong, cheated, frustrated, and very very angry. This is what the feelings of many of us today are. Many who have been grossly denied their right to a political identity. Our right to be a citizen of Pakistan. A right to voice our opinion. To be empowered. To own a part of this vast country. It's all stolen.

Like many of my fellowmen, I cared enough to break through the barriers of apathy and risk physical harm by going out to vote today. Over the last few days, there was a lot of confusion about the registration of my vote as I was a first-time voter, too young to have voted in the last national elections. It's not everyday that one gets to practice democracy in this country, so filled with excitement and a form of pride, my dad and I headed to the polling station. On the way there I was pleasantly surprised with the number of people that had braved it. Perhaps it was the sentiment to vote out the establishment. Whatever it was, I continued to accumulate positive energy while reiterating to myself the reasons why I was going to vote the way I was for the National and the Provincial Legislature. I impatiently waited to carry the inkmark on my thumb as a medal proclaiming: I Voted. I challenged Inactivity. I voted.

I did not.

Upon getting to the polling station, there's a number of different 'stalls' outside of different political parties. They have the lists from the National Database of all those that have a vote. Pakistan is one of the very few countries in the world that actually have a national identity card scheme where anyone that is over the age of 18 has a computerized ID card. Everyone. The list was merely a list of everyone in the constituency that had an ID card, their names, ages, and addresses. We walked up to the first desk and sitting in a relatively advanced setting at the PML-N office, we got to check our name out at the computerized kiosk. It wasn't there. Now, my dad's always voted at elections so he was extremely surprised at this. We were told that it was evidence of rigging but being distrustful of our technical expertise, we headed to the PML-Q booth that had a printed list. Nothing. According to this genius, no one from our address existed in the database. We then headed to my grandma's which is my registered address. She'd voted. Hmm. So that guy was certainly wrong. We left again to check up a PPP booth - the last resort. Having gotten there we decided to go through the lists ourselves and were shocked to see that only two names of the 14 people in that house with IDs were in the list! We wanted to fight with someone, just simply didn't know who. We were left stranded without a lifeline. We were not happy. Many people standing there were as furious since the case of the 'missing' IDs was a rather common one, it appeared. Where were these missing numbers? They had to be counted somewhere. In favor of someone... Where? Who? I looked to my right to see a woman screaming and fuming off saying 'To hell with this election. To hell with Musharraf. I don't have a vote. Why don't I have a vote?'

According to the workers, house is registered (circled below) but I'm not, although the address is clearly stated on my fancy ID Card (above) complete with visual recognition bars


Many have voted though. I hope it leads to something constructive, but I grow skeptical.

These elections were hailed as being centralized and automated. The website of the election commission fails to recognize me as a citizen of Pakistan

I came back home and switched on TV to watch Fatima Bhutto (Benazir's niece) giving an interview with a voters list in her hand. To my shock, that list had names, but no ID numbers. Which essentially meant that there was no way of verifying anyone's identity. Furthermore, her mom was fighting over a mismatched ID-name issue.
Lists, Lists everywhere.. But no vote..

Last night Musharraf made a statement that his favoring PML-Q was going to win. Even before the 'free, fair and transparent' elections! Later the presidency denied having made any such official statement.

At this point, I feel a strong association to Imran Khan that decided to stay out of the sham election. More than shame for this statement of national affairs, I feel lost. A friend of mine asked me why I was even surprised. I don't know why. Perhaps I still had some faith. All I have now is disgust. More than ever before I feel a strong inclination to change things. To fundamentally transform the foundations of the system. To right the wrongs of the future.

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8 Comments:

  • Same happened to me too dear and I can very well understand what you are going through.
    Well, the news channels here shows that in any circumstances, Mushy would make it.
    Hope everything falls into place and Pakistan be in safe hands.
    Anxiously waiting for the results tomorrow morning.

    By Blogger sharmin, At 18/2/08 19:16  

  • Mush isn't running so his position is safe in any case. But whether the house is pro or anti him will depend on the outcome of the elections.

    By Blogger Emad, At 18/2/08 19:29  

  • Well, there are people who are supporting parties which are supporting Mush. I am!

    By Anonymous Ramla A., At 18/2/08 21:01  

  • Offf! i'm terribly sorry to hear about all this! Ah, this is so sad! :( not being able to do anything about it makes one very frustrated!

    i'm speechless ..... but also happy that it didn't make you wanna give up!

    InshAllah things will improve!

    Delia

    P.S. I'm also very disappointed by my political class today (actually i'm always disgusted and disappointed by them but today their attitude towards Kosovo pissed me off)

    By Anonymous Delia, At 18/2/08 22:26  

  • @Ramla: Thanks for sharing

    @Delia: Yeah, you're right.. we should discuss your views on that sometime. Romania appears to be taking a hardline stand on this.

    By Blogger Emad, At 18/2/08 22:49  

  • I'm also sad and frustrated to join the club - but my plan was to NULLIFY my vote - I truly felt there was no one in my constituency worthy of being nominated for election let alone be worthy of my vote - but after braving the storm I stand disenfranchised as well

    By Blogger Teeth Maestro, At 19/2/08 02:41  

  • I had more or less the same experience when I got my ID card 2 weeks before the previous elections and went to vote. That was when I discovered I hadn't 'registered' - just another red-tape measure to keep voters away, I assumed. This time, I too went to the website and yes, I am not recognized as a citizen as well. I thought I would go to the Pakistan embassy in Singapore to try to cast my vote. Alas!

    But I am not very surprised at your post Emad.

    And I can't decide whether it's me who has failed democracy or democracy that has failed me.

    By Blogger Nubeals, At 19/2/08 09:37  

  • @TM: Yeah, It's quite sad the state of affairs. I did consider nullifying my vote, but at the same time had to weigh in the differential from voting pro-opposition vs abstaining. Since Pakistan doesn't report on 'Abstained or nullified' votes, I figured I would have made a larger impact through a different means.

    @Nub: Yea there's some serious amount of red-tape involved and this year is was even more confusing since most of the people got registered automatically by NADRA giving everyone the impression that the same would happen to them. Your absentee ballot would have counted, but oh well. Next time perhaps. Glued to the coming results for now.

    By Blogger Emad, At 19/2/08 13:17  

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