Supporters of the head of Pakistani militant organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Hafiz Saaed, look on and listen as they meet the members of the newly formed political party Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek, during a campaign meeting in Islamabad on July 21, 2018, ahead of the general election. Photo: AFP / Aamir Qureshi
Supporters of the head of Pakistani militant organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Hafiz Saaed, look on and listen as they meet the members of the newly formed political party Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek, during a campaign meeting in Islamabad on July 21, 2018, ahead of the general election. Photo: AFP / Aamir Qureshi

Voting is a duty and moral obligation in a democratic system. By voting for someone you bear witness that he or she is honest and trustworthy. According to the constitution of Pakistan, all contestants in an election have to submit an affidavit that they are honest and trustworthy. They have not been convicted of any crime and bear a pious and moral character.

While voting for a candidate, you acknowledge his or her good personality. It is a big responsibility, and one should be extra careful and judge the candidates to the best of one’s capabilities.

By voting, you are delegating your power to someone who will represent you in the national or a provincial assembly. Those elected will protect your interests and reflect your issues and concerns on the legislative platform. They will fight your case with full sincerity and to best of their capabilities.

It is just like a lawyer who on your behalf argues in front of a judge. If he fails and the judge sentences you, you have to obey the verdict. Therefore when choosing a lawyer to fight your case, you are careful to pick someone who will fight your case. The same care must be taken when choosing those who will represent you for the next five years in the national or provincial assembly.

Your vote will decide your future, and your country’s. You can change your fortune and your country’s fate greatly. Vote for the right person who protects your interests as well as national interests. A corrupt, dishonest or incompetent candidate can ruin your future and can damage the country too. Know the power of your vote and think smartly and wisely.

There is a certain class who do not participate in elections. But that is equally bad, as it will leave the wrong persons an open field to grab power and, after being elected, engage in all kind of crimes. Therefore, it is requested to all that you must exercise the right to vote. You are the best judge of whom you should vote for.

Major challenges

In just a few days, this Wednesday, July 25, a general election will be held in Pakistan, and the political environments are heated and a bit tense. Political parties are busy in blaming one another and are putting less emphasis on their party agenda or manifesto.

The nation is facing major challenges, the most immediate and serious of which is the national debt. Next month Pakistan has to pay its due installment, while the national treasury is almost empty, or at least does not have enough to pay what is due. The International Monetary Fund is ready to bargain with Pakistan but very harsh terms may be imposed on Pakistan. But unfortunately, no political party has taken this seriously enough to have come out with an appropriate solution yet.

Water is another big issue, but political parties are keeping silent on this very serious, life-threatening issue. India is engaged in depriving Pakistan of its due share of water. Education, health, jobs, and the economy are also major challenges in Pakistan.

The public should emphasize their issues and elect only those whom they trust. Only the honest, trustworthy and sincere candidates with clear vision may be able to change the future of Pakistan. It is the right time to differentiate between right and wrong.

Educate the voters and achieve positive results. The media are very active and the best tool for educating the masses. Social media, meanwhile, are more popular among youth. Around three-quarters of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 40. They might play a decisive role.

Changing attitudes, led by the young

Through my social interactions, I have witnessed a huge change in Pakistani society. In the past, traditional and family politics were practiced. Corrupt, dishonest and incompetent people were elected in the past. After winning elections, they focused on their personal gains and totally ignored the interests of their voters and sometimes compromise on national interests. As a result, they have become filthy rich and powerful while the voters and the country remain poor. As a result the gap between rich and poor widened largely.

Such people think they are above law and that their money can protect them from any law. They believe in buying votes with their black money.

But this time it might turn out completely differently. I have seen people talking publicly against such corruption, dishonesty and incompetence. They are challenging the politicians and demanding accountability. They are asking, what have you done for us? What about education? Health? Jobs? The economy? Welfare? Clean drinking water? Poverty elimination?

They are also asking, what was your contribution to the national economy? To development?

They are also asking politicians how they and their family became filthy rich, while the masses remain poor and the country remains underdeveloped.

I have witnessed divides within the same family: Youth are favoring one party while their parents and elder generations favor a different party. The divide is led by youth, and youth are our future. Trust that any move led by youth will change the future of Pakistan. The status quo will no longer exist in this emerging nation, which has the potential to develop rapidly.

I am very optimistic about the outcome of this election.

Professor Zamir Ahmed Awan is a sinologist at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Chinese Studies Center of Excellence, Islamabad, Pakistan. Posted to the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing as science counselor (technical affairs) from 2010-16, he was responsible for promoting cooperation between Pakistan and China in science, technology, and higher education.

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