At a Friday sermon yesterday, I was happy to hear the maulvi sahab, giving guidance on current problems that common pakistanis face today, in relation to the islamic teachings. That was a pleasant surprise, from the usual lecture of islamic history, leaving everyone to understand and relate it to present day situation and find solution themselves, which most of the naive people could not do themselves. He also touched upon election, explaining first that:
voting for someone is equivalent to vouching or testifying a candidate.
That leaves a huge onus on the person voting. Then, he mentioned we should not waste our vote either, by not giving it, which in turn allows an incompetent person to get elected, when the majority of naive people make such choices. But he also emphasized that:
it is an even bigger sin to knowingly vote for an incompetent person.
That again makes it important, to consider twice before making your vote. Further, he said, if you run into a situation, where you cannot find the best candidate of your choice, choose the better among the options available.
The importance of voting is driven by following factor:
- trust in government;
- degree of partisanship among the population;
- interest in politics, and
- belief in the efficacy of voting.
I, for one, don’t trust the current system of governance, which is predominantly capitalist system, driven by money. Influence of money has brought corruption, jolting the very pillars of democracy viz. media, judiciary, legislative and defence. As these pillars are weakened, this system has collapsed the world over. Failed attempts were made to resuscitate eg in US, by bringing first black president, luring people into believing that institutions have integrity and fairness, where someone from minority can get to the highest power and would bring change. But he also realized soon that he has to succumb to the corrupt system and after one term, people realized that there’s no change and they’re powerless as ever. As per the stats, voter turnout in Pakistan is less than 45% on average for the past 5 decades, while in US 48% on average during 1960-1995. Lack of trust in the government as well as politicians, are identified as the key reasons. No wonder, over the last 40 years, voter turnout has been steadily declining in the established democracies like United States, Western Europe, Japan and Latin America.
Another reason, I don’t trust democracy is because, it’s against Islamic principles, where Islam puts Allah as the sovereign authority, instead of allowing people making ANY law through consensus. Yes, we have Shariah law in place, and the constitution says, it’s supreme, but effectively it’s just a ceremonial law. For example, when there’s a clear-cut prohibition for the use of usury (interest) in Islam, then why is it the rule of business in the country, speaks a lot about the fact that laws are one thing and it’s practice another. I don’t mean to say, everything is un-islamic in Pakistan, rather, we are comparatively fairly non-secular unlike Egypt, UAE, Turkey or Malaysia and we comparatively follow many of the fundamentals of Islam in its true form. Another point to highlight here, we follow islamic ideals without government’s compulsion or force of any kind, unlike Saudi etc. Take for example, we don’t even have Friday as holiday, which is the holiest day in the week, yet more than 90% of people go for friday’s prayers, out of their own free will.
I don’t expect an islamic revolution coming right away, unless we start to educate our masses, about worldly and islamic wisdom out there. Once our educated masses cross 90% mark, like most of the developed nations, then only we as a whole, start to appreciate our own culture, our own values, our own language, heritage, people and learn to be patient, and be able to choose right from wrong and select the competent candidates. Until we overcome the education challenge, we still need to vote the person, who you think helps you getting closer to this objective. What you should look into the candidate, you can read my other post: Talk about change ? – Selecting election candidates. So, I conclude that we should vote the ones who are better among the choices available, instead of not voting at all.
The great thing about Pakistan today, out of 86 million registered voters, 41 million are youth (15-35), which is a significant number, that could drive Election 2013 result in any direction and in fact that’s our only hope for better time and better Pakistan. Our youth today is not only educated, but aware as well, compare to the older lot, with already a literacy rate of above 90%, compared to nation’s mere 58%.