Salman believes that a change more important than the result of the elections is already here.
“As far as I’m concerned, the change has already come. Not only the youth, even common people are politically informed this time.”

I remember the elections back in 2008. They took place amid a highly charged political environment and yet, a vast majority of the youth was entirely disinterested in them. Most of the young lot didn’t bother to cast a vote or care enough about the political developments back then.

Fast-forward five years and things are totally different. The youth is not only determined to take part in the elections but is politically aware, active and vocal. Political parties may keep chanting their slogans of change but the fact remains that this change is already here. And credit for that goes to PTI and Imran Khan. I may have ideological differences with Khan, I may not even vote for PTI come elections – but I can’t deny the fact that thanks to Khan, the youth of this nation does no longer suffer from acute political apathy and has decided to take charge of their fates.

I don’t exactly care what is the outcome of the elections on May 11. As far as I’m concerned, the change has already come. Not only the youth, even common people are politically informed this time. They are hooked to their TVs and their mobile phones, keeping track of news, citing their opinions over political issues and dissecting the flawed narratives dished out by politicians. Social media campaigns, run by the youth, are in full gear.

At the same time, media and judiciary are busy in dismantling the fake degrees, corruption charges and illegal acts of anyone and everyone in the political arena, regardless of his or her position in the last government. These are very encouraging signs which will have a long-term impact in that whoever gets elected to the parliament will know that the sword of accountability hangs close. Of course the use of Article 62 and 63 is prone to abuse by the authorities and is certainly an unwise move, the overall performance of the Election Commissioner of Pakistan is such that it is probably the most empowered body of its kind in the history of this country.

From where I see it, whoever gets elected will have to face a very politically-wise opposition. We may not have a perfect parliament but if it stays for its entire tenure, and let’s hope it does, that will be a huge victory. If people have matured this much during the tenure of a single political government, imagine how mature our collective political conscience would be once two democratically-elected governments complete their tenures, back-to-back.

It is for this reason that I believe change is already here. It was triggered when Imran Khan brought together a huge crowd on October 30th, 2011. The day marked a new era in Pakistan’s politics, an era which will be led by youth, at least in part. This trend was further seen when PTI decided to hand out its tickets to a number of young candidates, something which also forced other parties to follow in these footsteps.

Until the fateful day I pointed out above, social media had been a rather dormant tool, used by a few and far between. But today, it is a highly effective tool for different political parties to launch their campaigns while at the same time, the common users can voice their opinions, point out the anomalies in political parties and dish out criticisms. In that sense, social media has a fairly critical role to play come the elections day, especially if the mobile communications are closed down on May 11 on the pretext of security.