Most countries are stuck with only one way of removing their governments; waiting until the next elections and then vote them out. How boring. Can you imagine sitting there and waiting for the full term of office to complete itself before something new comes along? No wonder the Americans begin their election campaigning just two days after the previous election ended. The modern attention span is limited to the length of an advertisement now; who has the time to wait around for the entire time? That just goes against the spirit of the 21st century. This is the era of variety. Gone are those days when you settled for the singular. When I was a child you had PTV and they showed 32 seconds of Heckle and Jeckle before the Sindhi news and an edited episode of Matlock before the end of transmission. If you didn’t like it you were welcome to watch snow on static on any other channel because that was your only option. Today, in 2012, I can turn on the TV and browse between over 100 channels, all showing radically different versions of the same political talk show and a Bollywood awards ceremony. This is what my ancestors died for, killed for even. Which is why, when it comes to removing the sitting Government, us Pakistanis want a veritable menu of choices.
1) VOTE THEM OUT IN NEXT SCHEDULED ELECTION: This would be the normal way of doing things but then who wants to be normal? Normal isn’t exciting. Plus, what if the leading party is able to win enough votes in that next normal election to stay in power? That is just too wretched to contemplate.
Which is why we can consider 2) FORCE AN EARLY ELECTION: This is enticing because the current five-year election cycle demands just too much patience. It doesn’t help that all our political parties are capable of scorched-earth levels of corruption and incompetence in a one-year period. To give them five full years is like committing suicide really slowly. Common sense would dictate that the elections be held on a four-yearly schedule, but then even that seems too long these days. We should just demand a fresh election every year. That way everyone gets a chance and there’s not much waiting around.
Or; 3) MILITARY COUP: This is something we love when it happens then hate in retrospect. Just like every single relationship you were in. Unfortunately, the novelty has worn off and at this point it would just feel like a retelling of a tale already retold a few times.
Moving on to 4) JUDICIAL COUP: An exciting new form of coup-ing. An unplanned by-product of the happy union between independence and judiciary, this allows for the Supreme Court to actually dissolve the government and demand fresh elections. It would be a radical way of changing governments in Pakistan, not just because it would see the judiciary so boldly taking on the government but would also prove that the judiciary is capable of doing anything at all, other than making vague statements that involve current benches asking for larger benches, until the law of diminishing returns takes over. 5) REVOLUTION: Even though the Arab Spring has been quite exciting, it just doesn’t translate here. Largely because an uprising like that makes little sense against an elected government that can be voted out. Plus, the last people’s revolution we had was led by the legal community and we still haven’t gotten over the embarrassment of Ali Ahmed Kurd’s hair.
Other more questionable options are 6) ASSASSINATIONS, 7) GOVERNMENT GOING TO DUBAI ON HOLIDAY AND NOT COMING BACK and 8) MANSOOR IJAZ ANNOYING EVERYONE TILL THEY COMMITT SUIDICE JUST SO THEY DON’T HAVE TO SEE HIS FACE IN THE NEWS ANYMORE.
No wonder we can’t make a decision. Times like this you let someone else do the choosing for you. Which is kind of our favorite choice of all.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2012.
More in OpinionEducation reform: a student’s perspective