The Problem of Choice

There’s a line in Tim Burton’s 2010 film adaptation of Alice in Wonderland that very aptly describes the nature of my complicated relationship with this country I call home, “There is a place. Like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger! Some say to survive it you need to be as mad as a hatter – which luckily I am.”

I have a confession to make: I have never really voted. Ever. I have had the opportunity to vote twice in my life, but I never have. Yes, I have been this naïve, and more. I am one of those sad people who would never take part in the political process of their country and arrogantly declare that they couldn’t care less. I have been one of those people who are naturally averse to politics, thinking that it is something quite beneath them. This cold attitude has started to disturb me now.

I have given quite a lot of thought to this peculiar issue of mine in these last few months, I have. This weird indifference to the system could be my natural reaction to the forever -adverse state of affairs in this land of pure. It could be a sheer lack of enthusiasm due to a general lack of interest in politics or plain old laziness. Who knows, even I don’t. Whatever it is, it has kept me from voting.

But this time, I have decided to go for it.

I shall vote, not because the country needs me or because some ‘change’ shall miraculously occur in the system just because one fine morning I decided to vote, or because I’m a die-hard fan of this remarkable person or that dazzling person, and certainly not because as a citizen of Pakistan it is my duty. This emotional rhetoric does not work on me anymore. Sad, but that’s how I am.

I shall vote because this is perhaps the only real occasion where my opinion really matters, if it ever does, that is. If I opt to laze around at home, glued to my smartphone instead of going out there and making my otherwise docile voice heard; I quintessentially lose my right to criticize anything in those drawing-room discussions that I so fervently take part in.

I have been in a dire state of confusion on who to vote for. My folks are staunch PPP supporters, since my father belongs to the generation that saw the rise of Bhutto. They still can’t get over that phase, and I don’t blame them. Most people around me are inclined towards this supposed tsunami of change in the shape of PTI, which has arguably devoured the sanity of everyone. I don’t blame them either. To each his/her own, I’ve been taught— I’ll just stick to that.

But this voting confusion has turned into a bit of an existential dilemma of late. To tell you the truth, I am just sick and tired of everyone trying to manipulate this nation that has a natural penchant for extreme emotionalism.

I do not want ‘this’ Pakistan or ‘that’ Pakistan; I just simply desire an environment without the elements of fear and uncertainty. I want everyone to respect everybody else’s point of view and just let everyone breathe; and I want to be able to see that in my lifetime. Having said that, I am pretty certain that the much-touted ‘change’ is certainly not happening anytime soon. What matters right now is that the egalitarian progress in the country should not falter, however slow it may seem. Stability needs time – nothing that is insanely abrupt can prove to be effective in the long run. Well, according to my meek view of things, at least.

I am still undecided about what I am going to do with my vote. None of the candidates in my constituency catch my fancy. And I do not see a single reason, which would justify my voting for any one of them. Disappointing I know, but this is how it appears to me at the moment.  Sometimes I feel that I might just end up casting a protest vote, can’t really say.

But vote, I definitely shall, yes. No doubts about that now. And so should you – just to put it out there. Because that is the only way by which you probably ever can.

That reason alone should be sufficient.

(Originally published at


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