Pakistan Elections 2008: Awam Express Has Arrived

Posted on February 28, 2008
Filed Under >Deeda-e-Beena, Politics, Society
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Pakistan election 2008They were always there but nobody gave them any recognition. They waited patiently and long for their day and at long last when it arrived, they acted. Quietly they arrived in their millions, got their thumbs inked and had a line marked at the edge of their thumb-nails. They went into the privacy of the polling booths, stamped the symbol of their choice, performed their sacred duty and left as quietly as they had come. What each of them did as an individual, aggregated into a colossus.

The results we are now witnessing are not the result of any plan or a grand design. Simply put, they all thought like-mindedly and voted to that focus. By not giving any one party the run of the place, they have also created their own system of checks and balances – each keeping an eye on the other. With the maturity they have displayed this time; their message to their elected representatives and the political parties is loud and clear: “We will be watching.” Hopefully there will be a next time for them.

Carefully scrutinising the print media and TV coverages of people lining up to vote in the February 18th election revealed that a certain class of people were absent. Talking to scores of our “like-minded / looking” confirmed that many of them did not bother to vote. That is not to say that all of them were absent. This election their excuse was fear and security but for their preferred reasons they never vote any way. With a degree of pride, I have heard them also say that no one deserves their vote. Often enough they donot bother even to register as voters.

Amazingly the elite hiding behind euphemisms are now extolling what they as the so called “civil society” and the newly created category – “the stake-holders” – have accomplished. Who would like to stand for hours in long lines among all these Awam, await their turn and Vote in the cause of democracy so dear to us?

No one is giving credit to those, whom in a condescending if not disparaging manner we have been calling Awam. Yet it is these Awam who came out in multitudes and accomplished what we, the elite only talked or wrote about.

Another disappointment in the cause of democracy was very low showing in voting of the group of youth. The lowering of voting age to 18 years has not translated into enlarging the vote banks and the parties made little effort to encourage, reach out and include them. Add to that the miserable showing, even in some areas in the country, discouragement and banning of female voters. These factors must be added to the explanations being given for the low voter turn-out.

Let us look at these photos as a mirror and face the facts. Do we really see in these droves a reflection of ourselves?

What brought out the Awam in such numbers and a clear focus, that they could, in one fell sweep remodelled the entire dynamics of the system? When George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton It was said: “It is the economy stupid.” Who can imagine this complex and sophisticated economics would be so clearly simplified and acted upon by these Pakistani commoners. Several factors could be cited for reaching that clarity, to name just two. Firstly, they were hurting in their pockets for long but did not come out on the streets and waited. Secondly, the proliferation of TV media played a pivotal role in creating an awareness and understanding of the issues. Let us remember they may not be literate to benefit from the printed word like us but, they can watch and listen and God has given them a brain to comprehend.

In this and other forums, I have often asked who “the Awam?” is I have also asked here on this Blog “Am I an Awam” and no one has so far responded. Is Awam the same as “the People” in Urdu? If so, then “We the People” would translate into “We the Awam” OR “Hum Awam” By accepting that it would eliminate the virtual Caste system that we sub-consciously practice all the time and in all our inter-actions with “Them.” And do we really wish that to happen?.

20 responses to “Pakistan Elections 2008: Awam Express Has Arrived”

  1. Ahmed3 says:

    I have been reading Pakistaniat for quite sometime, but not thought of adding a comment on Deedai Beenas post on issues like Geyser Gas Waste, Kerry Luger, confusing Speed Sign boards at Islamabad on speed limits. His terrorism and signboards posts did get more attention showing the number of hits. Regrettable it is that no Authority, Civic Agency, NGO”s , Media, the Column Writers, Anchors of the various TV Channels and the Judiciary, and even the Editorial chief of the Media took cognizance to oversee whether an initiation taken on the issues could be furthered up in the Public interest.

  2. Yes Deedai -e-Beena is very Rite. Who are the AWAMS. None so far has come out with an answer.

  3. AAA says:

    On the comments, it is always funny to me how our urban elites likes to decry others in the urban elites. Like that other article about voting too. So who is it who is criticizing the urban elites, the urban elites themselves. Something fishy here :-)

  4. Rafay Kashmiri says:


    Chiun-keh, app zahiran, mu’ennas hein, lehazza,
    aik aur qata’a apki nazr hay

    @ Khawassan-e-Haram ko nadamat ho nehein sakti,
    Awam-u-naas, aati hay Magar, nadamaton ko liay

    Aadam-o-Hawa ko, darpesh ne thay kia kam Siapay,
    jo bana liya hay ab usnay ‘awaamon’ ko shararat kayliay

  5. Faraz says:

    You have a very good point.

    However, I must ask who could we have voted for?

    PPP – Corrupt, failed twice, dynastic politics.
    PML(N) – Corrupt, failed twice, reason we ended up with a dictator
    PML(Q) – the party of lotas
    MMA – do I need a reason?
    MQM – lets not even get started here
    ANP – ethnic party

    The rest of the parties either boycotted.

    So you have a point, but if people stayed home it may be because that seemed like the best option. Although, you could argue that we should have justed voted for the party that sucks the least.

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