In NA-251 & PS-115 at PECHS Girls College, Karachi
Reported on the People’s Resistance network
The dhandli [cheating] I witnessed in the five minutes it took me to cast my first Pakistani vote was beyond even what a cynical person like myself could have imagined. I laughed in the face of its blatant-ness and had many who joined in, albeit, for entirely different reasons.
As we walked in, my NIC number was recorded on the left stub of my vote, and I was handed a sheet that had already been torn out from the book, so the vote I cast wasn’t the one that corresponded with my NIC number. I don’t know if that matters, but when I asked about the discrepancy, I was told it did not.
Then came the coercion (in a slightly intimidating way, if that makes any sense) to stamp the ‘Patang’. The woman voting before us, asked where she could vote? She was told, ‘right here on the table’, but she asked for privacy and was shown the flimsy cardboard screen.
While waiting my turn to stamp my vote, I saw one of the two women, who had made themselves comfortable enough in the room, get up and proceeded to stamp four white ballot papers in quick succession, before adding them in to the transparent ballot box for the provincial assembly. Her associate then did the same. I gaped in complete disbelief, and asked who the votes were from, and the presiding officer who was seated right in front of the ballot box, laughed and said, ‘yeh votes Allah ki tarf say hain’ [These votes are from Allah.]. Outraged by the unabashed dhandli, I asked why I had bothered to come and vote.
The ballot paper itself was disappointing because it didn’t leave the vote confidential, the stamp showed right through the paper!! So the extremely biased polling agents and presiding officers knew our vote,and yes only one party seemed to be represented. I was leaving in disgust after I voted when they asked me to have my thumb marked, and one of the presiding officer cheekily remarked, ‘Iin ko mat lagao, yeh tow wapas aa kar vote karain gee’, [‘Don’t mark her thumb, she’ll be back to vote again.’]
I left saying ‘nahin, aap daal deyna mairee taraf say’. [‘No, you are welcome to vote on my behalf’]
So even though, I am no political analyst or soothsayer, I can tell you that the ‘Patang’ will win in my constituency.