During the last few days, I witnessed a beautiful display of voter mobilisation, not to vote, but to confront those who have been voted to power. A string of social media videos have emerged from different parts of the country where locals can be seen confronting their elected representatives about their absence from their constituencies, and their general lack of interest in fulfilling promises made during election campaigns. The first video I came across was that of Pakistan Muslim League — Noon (PML-N) stalwart, Jamal Khan Leghari, who was stopped by a group of young locals, mobile phones drawn, and questioned on where he had been for the last five years. Leghari tried his best to brush off the young men but much to his surprise they stood their ground and vociferously expressed their displeasure. Leghari, irked by the line of questioning answered with a question of his own:“Who do you think gave you this 45km long road?” to which a young man answered, “Democracy!” Leghari, then visibly infuriated said, “We know all about democracy. This road, I have given you!” He then pointed towards one of the young men and questioned him on having so much pride for casting one meagre vote for the sardar (leader) of his tribe. The young man replied, “We will answer your question on July 25”. Pakistani political elite, especially in rural areas, have always taken their constituents for granted. The building of a road, a bridge or a tube well is considered to be sufficient investment in a community to ensure their loyalty come election year. A few favours for the influential people, a job placement here and there, should give them enough political mileage to ensure representation in the parliament. Or at least, that’s what they thought until now. Traditionally, it is believed that Pakistanis cast their vote based on deep-rooted primordial identities, such as ethnicity, language, religion or tribal kinsmanship. However, the continuity in the democratic process, coupled with improved education, robust media and innovation in information technology, has empowered the Pakistani voter. Informed citizens are beginning to question their representatives, and realise the power of their vote. A second video circulating on social media features Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Sardar Saleem Jan Mazari who was also confronted by a group of protesting young men in his hometown Kashmore. The angry youth can be heard pleading their case passionately for their fundamental right to education and need for a university in their constituency. Mazari, visibly uncomfortable with the situation, tried to pacify the youth and exclaimed that he is a staunch proponent for education and highlights its importance in his speeches. He urged the young men to hear his speech to which a young man retorted, “We have been hearing the same for the last 50 years”. The young man further said, “If you promise to give us a university, we will give you our vote!” The political landscape of Pakistan is going through a transformational phase. There are 35 million social media users in the country with access to multiple platforms, which they can and do use to highlight their grievances. This is also a highly charged young population, which is not afraid to speak its mind and take on political aristocracy Similar cries of dissatisfaction have also emerged from other parts of the country. Sohail Anwar Siyal, former home minister, Sindh, was confronted by his constituents; but unlike his colleagues chose not to disembark from his vehicle and face the wrath of his voters. More recently, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was met with an angry mob in his constituency. The group was wearing black armbands and chanting, “Go Abbasi go”. One of the basic functions of an elected representative is to represent the will of the public and speak of the problems faced by their constituents in their respective Assemblies. But in order to speak for the people one needs to be in touch with the people. The common denominator in all of these videos has been the absence of elected parliamentarians from their constituencies and the disconnect between the voters and their representatives. It is high time the Pakistani voters broke from the tradition of going to the ballots based on primordial identities and choose leaders based on performance and merit. These are but a few examples of when society shows its representatives a mirror and I bet we will see many more before the upcoming elections. The political landscape of Pakistan is going through a transformational phase. There are 35 million social media users in the country with access to multiple platforms to highlight their grievances. This is also a highly charged young population which is not afraid of speaking its mind and taking on the political aristocracy. Politicians in Pakistan demand that people respect the vote (vote ko izat do) but in return completely disregard the voters once they are elevated to the echelons of power. These incidents are indicative of the fact that the political elite needs to change its attitude towards its constituents, to stop acting like overlords and start acting like elected representatives. The writer works for an International think tank in Islamabad. He can contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, July 1st 2018.