Everyone Everywhere Is Watching Pakistan
By Shazia Mirza
April 29, 2013
I was listening to the radio in my car here in London a few days ago, the phone-in was called, ‘Pakistan – is it on its last legs?’ People were ringing in, angry, irate, despondent and confused. The presenter said, ‘Is this the end of Pakistan as we know it?’
I shouted at the radio “No! Someone save it!”
Pakistan has become like a drowning dog. It’s paddling on the surface, constantly being knocked about by bigger dogs, it’s screaming for help, but the only things that come to its aid are untrustworthy Rottweiler’s.
I remember being in Pakistan during election time. All I saw were huge pictures of all the male candidates hanging all over the streets and buildings and how they all looked very similar – hairstyles drowned in barrels of cooking oil, moustaches that looked like Persian rugs, and speeches that made promises like Father Christmas.
My parents always voted. Well my dad did, my mum was always cooking.
Growing up, I never knew what it meant to vote. I didn’t know why people did it, or why it was important. I just thought it was something you had to do if you liked someone in charge.
The old people’s home round the corner from where we lived was always our local polling station.
I realised voting was a good idea when my school turned into a polling station and I got to have the day off.
I starting voting late in life, I was previously apathetic and thought, ‘No one will care if I don’t vote, it won’t change anything’.
The first time I voted, I went to the polling station in the afternoon. It was quiet, and there was an old man and woman sitting at the desk in the Church Hall asking for my name and address. They gave me a slip of paper on which I had to put some crosses in the boxes of the people I wanted to vote for. I did it, put the paper in the box and walked out.
It felt good. I felt like I’d had my say, and I had the right to have my say, and no matter if people would listen or not, I had voiced something.
It is a crime that on 11th May 2013, 11million eligible women in Pakistan will not be able to vote because authorities have not granted them ID cards. Also, some clerics believe that a woman voting for a man they don’t know is un- Islamic.
In some tribal areas these women don’t work, don’t go shopping, can’t read or write and now, they can’t vote. So what’s the point of them getting out of bed in the morning? Oh yes, to cook clean and breed. To these men everything is un-Islamic. Being a woman, blowing your nose, scratching your armpit – it’s all-un-Islamic. That’s why if you can vote you must, so that maybe one day women don’t have to live under medieval thinking, rule bending, women hating animals like these.
Some people might not vote because they’ve been worn down over the years. Disillusioned by false hope, lack of trust and above all constant corruption – Pakistan loves a bit of corruption like my mum loves a bit of a gossip.
The corrupt will never want democracy. They want to hold on to their six homes, 12 bank accounts, continue money laundering through Swiss bank accounts, filling their bags with gold bullion whilst their people are starving. It’s no surprise then that the ordinary people might think ‘Oh what’s the point?’
Now what’s different is that this spectacle called Pakistan also known in the west as The Rocky Horror Show has got a huge audience. Everyone everywhere is watching. This week, people who know nothing about Pakistan have been sending me pictures of Pervez Musharraf saying, “Do you know this man?”
I replied, “Why? Is he single?”
“No. Apparently he’s a murderer!”
Everyone’s watching, so everyone must play their part. Even if you think it doesn’t matter, no one listens; my vote probably won’t be counted, the corrupt will win anyway, I’m a woman – who cares what I think? Just vote. Even if it’s for the adventure of going to the polling station and staring at the line up of hot male candidates with greasy hair.
Shazia Mirza is an award winning stand-up comedian and writer. She has performed all over the world. A columnist for The Guardian UK, she was named Columnist of the Year at the prestigious PPA Awards.