Sunday, January 1, 2012

Recalling PTI election of 1997

My father contested the general election on the ticket of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in 1997. It was the first election of the PTI and the party lost all the seats. My dad bagged around 3,000 votes which were highest among the PTI candidates in Punjab.
The election taught my father many things. My father quit the active politics after that. The election campaign made a severe dent on our financial condition. We spent the money on campaign very wisely but still the campaign cost us around Rs 2 millions - most of it was the debt which my family returned during the next several years. We enforced budgetary cuts on everything in our home except our education.
The PTI was the most unpopular party. The Jew-lobby propaganda affected it badly.  Wherever my father held a meeting, people demanded clarifications on it. One of my father's friends, former Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Hamid Khan, also contested the election and lost it. Hamid Khan is still one of the leading personalities in the PTI, but many vanguards like my father quit the politics after the 1997 elections. The current SCBA president Yaseen Azad also ran the election. He has disclosed his political affiliation with the PTI in a recent interview. He has also quit the general politics.
We observed the mindset of ordinary Pakistanis about the democracy during the campaign.
Often people, holding a few dozens national identity cards of local people, would visit my father and offer him to buy the cards. My father didn't accept that, but his opponent - far richer than him - bought them. This practice is still prevalent today. Rich candidates buy the cards of their opponent's potential voters, preventing them from casting their votes. Money is also distributed among the potential voters to keep them faithful. Often a voter sells his vote to all the contesting candidates.
People having influence over 20 or so people, start behaving like king makers. They demand money from the candidate on the pretext of opening an election office or holding a corner meeting in their area. These people start pressing the candidate soon after his candidature is announced. Nothing discourages honest and upright people form running the elections than this public mindset. And this mindset is responsible when Air Marshal (r) Asghar Khan loses elections to a person far inferior than Khan's character, but far richer than Khan.


  1. Bravo Gondal sahib, you have summed it up. I remember when one of my cousin's was running for a seat and he sent a car for my mother all the way from our native village to our house in Pindi, so that she may cast her vote in his favour. After that we never heard from that cousin, although he won with a huge majority. It is only when the educated class will come out and cast their votes that we will begin to see a change, in a big way. I think the time is ripe now for that, and Khan may be successful.

  2. You Have Said All True.
    But Now PTI Can Buy Votes.

  3. See Declan Walsh's documentary on Jamshed Dasti.

    Aah k chaahiye ek umar asar honay tak,
    Kon jeeta hai teri zulf k sar honay tak.

    Instead of waiting for agent to bring ID cards, reach out to every card holder.