Story and photo by Ibrar Hussain
My first involvement in Pakistan’s elections was an experience to remember. I went to the old Pakistan and came back from a new Pakistan. How the campaigns work and the election commission carries out its duties, is similar to the electoral services in Sheffield.
I was in National seat NA55 / PP2 in UC 22 (the Attock district in Punjab) – National Assembly seat boundaries are complicated and have massive electorates. However, there is a vast difference between campaigning in Sheffield and campaigning in a local village in Pakistan: people meet in corner meetings, meet elders in the village and see very few ‘influential people’ in the villages.
My addition was very different, we adopted Sheffield’s type of campaigning for my party PTI (Pakistan Movement for Justice) and went door-to-door to speak to every voter and listen to their concerns, as well as give our party’s vision for the future. I found that voters were virtually the same, based on how they respond and find politicians.
They do not trust politicians and believe that they are all the same. Instead of leaflets, we used posters as a widespread display, and delivered them to local people, with the party’s manifesto on them; it was a surprising change, but a new initiative.
Pakistan is changing for the better and more has to be done to improve and reform the overall conduct of elections, especially with regard to campaigning in villages, which are home to 70% of Pakistan’s population.
I feel I contributed to being part of the solution by seeing this first hand, which is very different to seeing it on TV.
It is an experience that I will never forget, and I feel excited that I was there when the real change came.