With free rides and meals, Pakistan elections blend marketing with democracy
As millions of Pakistanis vote to elect their next government today, a string of offers have been thrown at them in what can only be described as blending of marketing gimmicks with democracy.
So whosoever is feeling lazy about making way to the polling station has more than one reason to make the effort.
From restaurant owners to retailers and even cab drivers have come up with unprecedented ideas to lure voters. Anyone brandishing the voter mark - which is symptomatic of a voter having cast his vote - will be in for surprises throughout the day.
Free rides to free food and discounts on famous fashion brands are likely to make the day memorable for voters.
App-based taxi hailing company Careem, for instance, is offering free rides to polling stations if you are willing to cast your vote. This will leave them with no excuse for not having a transport or unwillingness to tackle parking woes.
“The company has introduced a Jamhuriyat Car type that will be driven by ‘Captains’ who have volunteered their vehicles and time to transport voters to and from their polling stations on July 25. Let’s drive Democracy,” the company said in a statement.
Marketing offers this election has gone beyond convenience and extended to fashion too. A famous fashion brand in the country, Ideas by Gul Ahmed, is offering 50 percent discount to all their products if one displays the vote mark.
“No vote goes to waste! You are not just a voter, you are a participant in building a better future. Show your inked thumb at Ideas by Gul Ahmed and get up to 50 percent off on your purchase….”, the company announced on its social media.
There is also a yummy part to this special day. Dozens of food outlets across the country are offering free food and drinks to those who have cast their votes.
From traditional dishes such as halwaa puri to fries, coffee and ice cream, your decision to vote is rewarded with numerous delicacies.
A local daily has even published a list of restaurants who are either offering free food or discounts to the voters.
Voters in Pakistan are often considered lazy as they prefer to stay at home instead of standing in queues outside polling stations for long hours. There is also a sense of apathy as they often feel that not much is going to change in the country after elections.
Pakistan, with 86.9 million registered voters, recorded a 55.02 percent voter turnout in the previous election of 2013. The country trails India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, where a lot more voters come out to cast their ballots in elections held between 2014 and 2017.
This time young voters in Pakistan account for almost 43 percent of the total electorate in the upcoming elections. Out of 46 million voters around 17.5 million are between the age group of 18 and 25 years, while 27.5 million voters are aged between 26 to 35.
Perhaps these marketing gimmicks are aimed primarily toward them. If these allurements succeed then the political parties should expect more and more people to come out and vote.
In other words, here’s more power to democracy powered by free food, free rides and free dresses.