In our society, it is easy to have an opinion. If you say it with enough confidence, barely anyone ever calls you out on a claim that is completely made up, whether or not it makes sense. Many of our journalists and analysts have thriving careers because of our national inability to think critically and argue logically.
In such a situation, making certain confessions can land you in deep trouble. One such confession is: “I am an Insafian”.
Once you make that pronouncement, the way people look at you will change. I felt as if I had grown a moustache in the 30 seconds it took me to say it and my audience to process it. Whether or not this person knows you well enough, they will react with a snotty purse of the upper lip. They will then give you a look like you’re a sorry creature who has decided to move in with the animals in the jungle because, let’s face it, you actually should be with the animals since you’re now a follower of “Taliban Khan”.
Your ability to critically analyze a situation, any situation, will be severely critically analyzed. Every time you try to break up a discussion where Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf is being bashed, even if it is only to add to the bashing, your opinion will have less weight than it did when you were still in the closet about your “Insafian-ness”. You will be told “Don’t be so detached from reality” by people who have barely ever stepped out of their house to observe the reality that they are discussing with such authority.
You will be relegated to the bottom of the food chain. Everyone who has an opinion will make it a point to drag you into the conversation, whether it is about politics, cricket, fashion, food, insects, computers, movies, music, pretty much anything where the concept of “Naya Pakistan” and “Taliban Khan” can be jammed in. You will then be made to feel like you should expect to be the target because you dared to support a party that is not the “progressive”, “liberal” and “secular” PPP, ANP or MQM.
No one will stop to consider that maybe you’re not in it because of hero worship. That although you love Imran Khan the man, you’re not crazy about his politics or his stance on religious minorities or his position on the Taliban. That you have allowed yourself to get swept by the proverbial Tsunami because you believe that there is a need for a third voice in parliament, even if that voice isn’t 100% representative of you. That you feel that this party will respond to criticism of its work, and that that response will not be a bullet.
I am an Insafian. I became one the night before the election, when I sat in my hotel room in Lahore wondering why I had argued and argued with my family to accompany me to Lahore where our votes are registered – I realized it was because Imran Khan had touched a chord in my heart. He had made me realize that if I missed my constitutional right and duty to vote one more time, I will not be able to live with it. I never believed in his promises of clean sweeping the elections, but I believe in his promise that any PTI MNA or MPA who falls short on the standard of PTI will be chucked out of the party so that the higher goal of better governance can be achieved. I took a leap of faith, putting my trust in a man who has both disappointed me and made me proud an equal number of times.
I am an Insafian, but that does not mean I have lost my ability to reason. It doesn’t mean that overnight I have turned into a Twitter troll or have decided to condemn the Taliban a little less. All it means is that I have found a reason to sit up and pay attention, an avenue to bring at least some fresh blood into politics and a national party to support and own because its leadership cares about what urban voters think and want.
I am an Insafian, and now a PTI voter, and I will watch my party closely to applaud the good, censure the bad and, hopefully, embrace a new kind of politics that is based on good governance.