In the past few years social activism via keyboards has really increased in Pakistan, whether said keyboard is connected to a PC, a laptop or a cell phone. From SMS spamming to wedding invitations and from political activism to revolution, everything seems to start from a keyboard and quite often ends with a fiery argument on the same set of keys.
Gone are the days when too much time spent on PCs or cell phones would cause suspicion among parents about a possible girlfriend of boyfriend. The scenario has changed, with parents now assuming their kids must be engaging in some form of activism or the other.
I myself am not tech savvy, but necessity has always been the mother of invention. It took me ages to finally set up accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, and then learn how to use them. However, when I finally did get connected I had the chance to interact with some youths during the 2013 General Elections, both online and offline. The people I spoke to seemed really enthusiastic and politically motivated, and for the first time I personally experienced young people understanding the importance of their vote and urging their friends and family to vote as well. They were all geared up for a ‘New Pakistan’. And yet at the same time, some of these same people thought nothing of violating traffic rules just to get to the polling station on time.
I then realized that for people morality and respect for the law had zero value while they somehow felt the vote would change everything. What change were they looking for exactly? I once had a Twitter conversation with a ‘change-supporting-lady’ and decided to ask her directly “Why do you want your candidate to be Prime Minister?” Her reply was the following: “Because he won us the cricket World Cup”.
I have to admit the reply really shook me, but after the initial moments of shock it got me thinking. If we as a nation believe that winning a World Cup is qualification enough to become Prime Minister then doesn’t Younus Khan deserve to become Chief Minister of one of the provinces? What about Roshan Khan, Jehangir Khan and Jan Sher Khan for their contribution to squash? They hoisted the national flag for years, so perhaps they at least deserve one Federal Ministry each. And let’s not forget Hassan Sardar, Sami Ullah, Islah Uddin and Shahbaz Senior – the National Games legends – as well as all the boxers, snooker players and athletes like Naseem Hameed that have represented us at prestigious forums like the Olympics and the Asian Games.
While thinking all this the thought also struck me that the ICC World Cup is going to take place next year in Australia, once again giving the Pakistan team a chance to bring the Cup back home under the leadership of Captain Misbah Ul Haq (also known as ‘tuk tuk’, infamous for his slow and depressing batting style). Just imagine if Misbah were to win us the World Cup in 2015 and 21 years later we decided to elect him as Prime Minister for this achievement. I’m not saying that winning a trophy is an easy task but we need to understand the difference between winning an award, being a best seller and running a state. We respect our stars for their dedication, skill, performance and contribution to their country but these stars cannot automatically become successful leaders.
What we need to focus on is replacing the bad politicians with good ones, and this will only come from an understanding that the political system we have today is a reflection of our own society. Corruption is endemic at all levels, not just at the very top. And any cleaning up of this system will be a long and time-consuming process. It is impossible for things to magically improve in the blink of an eye, and anybody who claims so is simply fooling us with tall claims, false promises and contradictory statements.
In fact things start getting worse when the difference between what you say and what you do becomes ever more glaringly obvious. When your stances change more quickly than your clothes. When you claim to fight the status quo with the feudal sitting next to you. When your narratives on key national issues are tailored according to your convenience. When you condemn drone attacks standing next to the Foreign Minister of Pakistan who was in charge the moment these attacks started taking place. When you talk about an equal education system and the lady who owns one of the most elitist school systems of the country holds a strong decision-making position in your party. I can go on and on, but from where I’m standing this is certainly not ‘the change’ that lady was arguing with me on Twitter for, or that young boy broke the traffic signal for. This is not ‘the change’ our youth was convincing each other to go and vote for. This is not The Change, and you are not ‘The Right Man’.