We Pakistanis are always discussing two things; cricket and politics. If any of us does not discuss these topics at least once every two days, I start doubting their nationality. So, following and propagating the Pakistani culture, we friends were having a heated debate on the current political situation in the country. And of course, following another national tradition, we were criticizing the class of rulers we elect by casting our votes. We started discussing the individuals we had voted or not voted for in our respective constituencies. We dissected their rise in politics to their family backgrounds, their statements, so on and so forth. And our heated debate of “one up man ship” stopped at the query “how do these people even get elected?”
This, as it turned out to be was a million dollar question. One of our friends took out his phone and from the national assembly web site read out these pre requisites for an aspiring MNA:
He should be citizen of Pakistan
Not less than 25 years of age
His name must be enrolled as a voter in the electoral list
He should also fulfill the qualities provided in Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
After he finished reading, almost all of us said unanimously “that’s it?” the answer was affirmative. All of us went into deep thought. Our contemplation ranging from “man that’s too simple” to “there has to be more” and “what is 62 & 63” “who will define the Article 62 & 63” and “if these guys can pass this scrutiny, it should be a piece of cake for me”
Then the argument erupted on a level not known to us before that moment. What is that they have and we do not that makes them qualify to be in the parliament? The answer was simple: 60 to 70 thousand votes!
The discourse of the deliberations shifted to how those are acquired. All of us agreed, at least for that one instant in the night that its because these are the only options available to voters. These are the only faces they are familiar with, these are the only names they get to read & hear.
And probably the reason for this is advertising campaigns. The massive advertisements on TV, fierce poster pasting, sticker distributing, corner meeting, grip & grin movement that seems super human. And of course, most of these things have a price tag.
Our designated “google boy” searched for the ceiling of spending election commission has given to a MNA for the campaign. The answer was 1.5 million. We all laughed aloud and to the point when our ribs started aching. The answer was obvious. The difference between them and us was that of at least Rs.3 million.
So the question the night wrapped up with was, are we eligible to contest, are we eligible to meet the ‘contemporary requirements’ and are we eligible be a parliamentarian at all?