All the King’s Horses and all the King’s Men – The Pakistan Presidential Elections 2007

By Sonya Rehman

The impending, and fast-approaching Presidential Elections are only a mere two days away and the next 48 hours will prove to be extremely crucial for the country.
After Nawaz’s exile, and Musharraf’s eight-year long rule, it finally boils down to the 6th of October – Pakistan’s judgment day.

Who will hold the country’s reigns, and who won’t, will khaki uniforms be flung off, or will they not…who knows, Pakistani politics really is, by the end of the day; a gambit of lies, secret  ‘brokered’ deals, conspiracy theories, and a cesspit of  murky, grey areas – seasoned in absolute bunk.

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Are today’s youth pro-active whereas local politics is concerned? Many are. Others: zapped, sapped and desensitized.

Speaking with Instep Today, Fizzah; a 30-year old writer’s take on the imminent elections is rather fervent. She states: “I am totally pro-Musharraf because no one can lead this country better than he does. I mean look at Benazir’s recent statement regarding allowing the US to strike Pakistan – to eliminate the Taliban – if she were the country’s leader! It’s incredibly embarrassing the way she’s promoting herself like this towards the West. When the General Elections will happen, I’ll definitely vote for Musharraf because I desperately want him to stay on board for the next five years. Look at Pakistan – it’s a different country with Musharraf! You know, when I was young I used to be absolutely crazy about the Airforce and I really wanted to be a part of it – and I hated the fact that they wouldn’t take in women back when Benazir was our country’s Prime Minister. And now look, ever since Musharraf, women have been allowed to be a part of the Airforce, it’s been four years ever since and I think it’s just wonderful…and the army too, accepts women soldiers! Doesn’t that say something?”

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“I have a different criteria for voting”, Waqas, a 25-year old MBA graduate explains; “Benazir is an absolute no-no for me because she knows fully well she’s done something wrong and then has the nerve to ask the General to free her money – which is just crazy! Khuli badmashi! Personally, I’d want Nawaz Sharif to be elected because whatever his government did or didn’t do in the past, they made Punjab what it is today. I mean all Musharaff’s doing is building underpasses near his house! I love Mushi, don’t get me wrong, but if only he had better advisors. Take the Lal Masjid issue as an example; if he’d solved it two months earlier, it’d be resolved in a better way. And recently the removal of the Chief Justice from his seat, Musharaff was simply pressurized by his advisors to take the man off! I feel Nawaz knows his politics far better than Musharraf.”

Another young twenty-something, professional services’ consultant, Fauzan, has a different perspective. He states: “The only thing I would personally want from the Presidential Elections is to see the army step out of the nanny role it has been playing for the past eight years. I for one support President Musharraf…he should continue for another five years but he should learn from his mistakes and make amends. I think he’s making a lot of mistakes due to his ‘advisors’ – I don’t know why he listens to them! Also, he needs to be a bit more tactful where handling the media is concerned.”

Paulo Coelho in ‘Like the Flowing River’ writes: “The person who dishonours his country, dishonours himself. In one of the classic Greek creation myths, Zeus, furious because Prometheus had stolen fire and thus given independence to mortal men, sends Pandora off to marry Prometheus’ brother, Ephemetheus. Pandora takes with her a box which she has been forbidden to open. However, just as with Eve in Christian mythology, her curiosity gets the better of her. She lifts the lid to see what is inside and, at that moment, all the evils of the world fly out and scatter about the earth. Only one thing remains inside: hope. So, despite the fact that everything contradicts this, despite my sadness and my feelings of impotence, despite being almost convinced at this moment that nothing will ever get better, I cannot lose the one thing that keeps me alive: hope – that word treated with such irony by pseudo-intellectuals, who consider it a synonym of ‘deceit’. That word, so manipulated by governments, who make promises they know they will not keep, and thus inflict even more wounds on people’s hearts. That word that so often rises with us in the morning, gets sorely wounded as the day progresses, dies at nightfall, and is reborn with the new day. Yes, there is a saying that states that ‘you cannot argue with force’; but there is another saying: ‘where there’s life, there’s hope’. And I hang on to that saying as I look across at the snowy mountains on the Chinese border.”

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Coelho’s right. ‘Hope’ really is all one’s got right? It can either be a crutch for the weak, or a silent prayer for the eternal optimist – depending solely on how one wants/decides to look at it.

And speaking of change  – whether or not the elections will bring it – we must realize, always comes in bits and drabs…quite a temperamental little fellow ‘change’ is, he prefers to loll about and ‘waft in’, rather than jump through the doors of life, yelling: ‘Hello there I’m back! Look who’s here!’
It will be years and perhaps even generations down the line, when we’ll be able to actually ‘see’ change make his appearance – like a cloaked figure in the dark, he will emerge…and like a murky pool, his waters are bound to clear, making way for a transparent view within, a deep (or shallow) reflection.

What each of us will then see, will depend solely upon what the 6th of October’s results will entail – for now, we wait with baited breath, we – the people of Pakistan – hang in balance. All of us; we the laborers, the poets, the professionals, the farmers, the musicians, the people. Hail change!

Instep Today, The News

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