What can the people of Karachi learn from the Judicial Commission report?

It is 11th May 2013. I am standing in front of a school in DHA, a loud and agitated young participant of an angry mob. Voting has stopped in this polling station and nobody has been allowed to vote since noon. This is NA-250 and the story is the same in many other polling stations of this constituency. This is not my constituency, mine is NA-252 and I have already voted. The turnout is unprecedented everywhere and phenomenal in NA-250, but nobody is being allowed to vote here.

As sun sets, the optimism and energy of the morning starts turning into anger and despair. I receive a phone call from a friend. He says that he and some of his friend were at a polling station in Gulshan and accidentally witnessed rigging. A couple of boys from an educated, secular and moderate party were stamping hundreds of ballot papers in wider national interest. They somehow thought that my friends had filmed this act on cell phones. These cell phones were confiscated and searched. No video was found, but they found photos of Imran Khan. The cell phones were broken and stomped on, as were my friends. After receiving a thorough thrashing my friends were not in a particularly democratic mood.

Frustration starts to creep in.

By sunset, the mob in front of the DHA school loses all hope. After wasting energy chanting and protesting they begin to disperse, planning a revolution for the next day. By this time videos start pouring in. Secular and moderate people stamping sheets of paper in bulk in Urdu Science College. Another video shows a woman, who is no doubt secular and moderate, telling other women to stamp on sheets of paper as fast as possible. Another video shows that a mob has infiltrated a polling station (or are they election officials on two payrolls?) whatcha gonna do bout it?

Everyone has stories. There is a feeling in the city that someone has just died. I find the corpse in front of my house the next day. Hundreds of stamped ballot papers in a garbage dump. One of them is mine, no doubt. I take a photo of the corpse and share it on social media. With a bit of googling you might find it. It is a part of  internet history along with photos of cats,bathroom selfies, and photos of delicious looking food.

The next day we gather at 3 Talwar. That is also a part of history. After many protests, re-polling in NA 250 is announced. A small victory that calms us down. All this while, Imran Khan is incapacitated. PTI is leaderless. I fantasize that one day Imran Khan will come to Karachi and we will tell him what happened in the immediate aftermath of the 2013 elections and he will be proud.

We fast forward to the 2014 Dharna. There is little mention of Karachi. Karachi has been ignored. Murder of democracy in Karachi goes unnoticed once again, like all murders in Karachi. We fast forward to 2015 Judicial Commission inquiry into electoral irregularities. There is little mention of Karachi. Karachi is not in the line of sight of the judges who sit in their high and mighty chairs in Islamabad. Maybe it is a logistical thing. Karachi is too far south geographically. Maybe that is it.

In Karachi, a General can give amnesty to thousands of convicted murderers and nobody bats an eye. In Karachi a ruling party creates a terror outfit to counter the militant wing of their own provincial coalition partner. In Karachi, the government officials steal water from people just to sell it back to the people. In Karachi you cannot leave your house without contemplating on the mortality of man.

The judicial commission report says that the elections were largely free and fair and representative of the mandate of the people. What can I say about the respected Judicial Commission without risking being held in contempt of court?

I have only one suggestion for the honorable judges of the Judicial Commission: The Supreme Court of Pakistan should be moved to Karachi. The honorable judges are old, their eye-sights might be weak. They should live here, work here, send their children to school here. They too should move without guards and bullet proof cars on the streets of Karachi so that they too can contemplate on the mortality of man every time they leave their house. Maybe then they will see what the actual problem of Karachi is and that nobody in the whole wide world from MI6 to General Pervez Musharraf to Imran Khan to the esteemed Chief Justice of Pakistan, nobody, wants to fix it.


Waqas Ahmed

Waqas Ahmed

Waqas Ahmed is Editor, Digital Media, at Daily Pakistan Global. You can reach him at waqas@dailypakistan.com.pk