I happened to be returning home from a social commitment in suburban Islamabad via Kuri Road when I noticed an anomaly. Almost every vertical fixture along the road was bedecked with election posters of PML N and PPP –there was no PTI presence. Curiosity got the best of me, and I started asking my family and friends if my observation was correct. The response confirmed the deduction that either Khan Sahib’s Party had not set up a feedback loop for monitoring how his party’s campaign was being handled, or his candidates were demonstrating the same overconfidence that undid Ali Tarin during the bye-election in Lodhran.
Intrigued by the phenomenon, I began researching and talking to voters in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore. I endeavoured to find out how much door to door contact was being made by PTI candidates in their respective constituencies. I was horrified by the results. Barring a sprinkling of people like Dr Yasmin Rashid, none of the ticket holders had met their vote bank on a one on one basis. One family, I spoke to, went to the extent of asking me, if I could, as a columnist, somehow convey to the cricketing Khan that this was not the way elections were won and majorities manifested.
All around us, like a chicken pox epidemic, boards have begun appearing at strategically visible points along roads that had lain neglected and almost unnegotiable during the last five years. Some of these routes have had new life breathed into them just weeks before the polls, while others have not been lucky, but can still boast a board saying (read lying) that it was re-carpeted by none other than so and so political luminary of PML-N or PPP. With the voter now enriched with what can only be termed as new awareness, it would be interesting to see if the change has also affected his gullibility or would he walk up to the offending sign to appropriately carry out its disposal.
The NAB court trying Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son in law for corruption has reserved its judgement, which will be announced on 6 July 2018. Added to the Sharif Family woes is the fact that a flood of electable defectors has left the PML-N for different destinations. Whether the disqualified PM and his family members are convicted or otherwise, the PML-N has been gravely damaged. The only person, who appears to recognise this fact is Shahbaz Sharif, but he too has the ‘sword of Damocles’ dangling upon his head. I must, however, compliment PML N sources and what is left of its stalwarts, for setting extremely high benchmarks as far as optimism goes, but for the time being, things are not boding well for a party that had enough time to deliver good governance in multiple provincial and federal tenures, but failed to do so.
Monsoon downpours are nothing new in this part of the world especially Punjab. The Lahore of my young days had a reputation for celebrating rain at a time when the ‘City of Gardens’ was not the modern metropolis as it is today. It had a rainwater disposal system that predated independence and efficiently routed successive deluges into the Ravi. Then came a three-decade-long rule of the younger Sharif, with his grand designs of flyovers, metros and orange trains. There was no denying that Lahore needed flyovers, underpasses and a mass transit system to reduce and regulate traffic density, but these projects were built at a devastating cost. They were built with massive corruption involved, dereliction of healthcare facilities, contaminated drinking water, inefficient and politicised police, poor government education systems and most of all the apathetic and callous ruin of the city’s utility systems, such as rainwater drainage. Having washed his hands of all responsibility in a speech during his last day in office, the cloudburst over Lahore exposed Shahbaz’s real face of development to the residents of Lahore.
The writer is a freelance columnist.