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A Puppet Show: My Election Duty Experience

OpinionA Puppet Show: My Election Duty Experience
By: Anum Shafique

As I embark on recounting my recent experience, the title “Puppet Show” requires little explanation, given my role as a government employee during election duty. This narrative chronicles my journey, from the moment I was appointed as a “DARJA AWWAL MAGISTRATE” to the day I felt as though I had been condemned to hell, awaiting my fate—a feeling likely exacerbated by my lack of prior experience in such matters.

Although I was not alone on this journey, the sentiments I express here are solely my own. We underwent training twice before the big day, aimed at fully equipping us for our duties and instilling a sense of honor in us for being entrusted with such responsibilities. However, none of us from the new cohort could anticipate what lay ahead.

In my case, the constituency to which I was initially assigned changed twice. Eventually, I was informed that I would have a lower-ranking duty with fewer responsibilities. Secretly, I felt relieved. However, the day before the scheduled duty I was unexpectedly summoned by an officer from another constituency and instructed to report them immediately. Upon arrival, I was informed of yet another change in plans.

Given the distance from my residence, I opted to stay at the venue. The day before duty commencement, we were required to collect our necessary materials and assemble at the venue—an open area with large tents where officers called out the names of the staff assigned to duty. I found myself among them, herded onto Suzuki vehicles like chickens bound for slaughter.

My primary task was to coordinate with the assigned staff and ensure the smooth functioning of the process. However, one staff member, perhaps due to personal connections, refused to report to me. Another staff member swapped duties without proper authorization, leading to official documentation complications. In the midst of such chaos, managing these issues proved exceedingly challenging.

Fortunately, the venue management provided adequate security, allowing us to fulfill our duties tirelessly throughout the day. As night fell and the day’s tasks were completed, we were once again herded onto Suzuki vehicles and escorted back to our camp office. There, we stood in line to surrender our belongings, enduring a lengthy wait before my turn finally came, and I could submit and return home.

The true ordeal began the following day when I received a call informing me of discrepancies in an important document I had submitted. I was bewildered, as I distinctly recalled no such errors—any alterations had been made by the staff in my presence, in an attempt to rectify form-filling errors. Thankfully, I had retained copies of the original documents. After providing the corrected version, I found myself embroiled in a process for which I bore no responsibility, enduring mental anguish and uncertainty.

Despite fulfilling my duties diligently, I find myself plagued by lingering questions: Why am I unable to find peace and satisfaction? Why am I still tormented by unanswered queries, despite assurances that no issues exist on my end? These unresolved issues lead me to ponder the true nature of our roles. Were we merely paid puppets, performing at the behest of unseen forces?

In conclusion, my election duty experience has left me questioning the purpose and efficacy of such processes. While I may have played my part faithfully, the lingering uncertainty and stress cast doubt upon the integrity of the entire system.


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