A headless revolution

The last time the country saw a personality capable of changing Pakistan’s ideological foundations was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto - and he was hanged...

Samir Butt September 02, 2010
Pakistan will not experience a revolution any time soon. While the idea may seem fascinating, moving in that direction will plunder the wealth of the country like never before.

Revolutions seen by the world to date were inspired by a thought or an idea. Thinkers, philosophers and visionaries were responsible for highlighting the need for a better social setup and gave alternative ideologies. A radical social and political change in the organisational structure can only bear fruits if it is ideology-driven. Presently, Pakistan doesn’t have that. Without an alternative ideology, there can be no revolution, just anarchy.

The much quoted French Revolution did not just happen because the population was feeling miserable. Great philosophers like Voltaire and Rousseau were the ones sowing the seeds. Voltaire’s thoughts on economic disparity within the society and ideas on freedom of expression and religion were fresh and appealing. Rousseau’s argument that nature was good while civilisation was bad meant something to the people. He spoke strongly against the class-made institutions that helped the strong rule the weak. Hence, the people knew what they wanted. They realised that monarchy was the disease hampering their way of life. The goal was a people’s government. As the frustration grew exponentially, the anger erupted and the goal was achieved. While the thinkers were not leading the conflict directly, they were the spirit of the change.

Turkey saw a visionary leader. Kemal Ataturk was a military genius and a charismatic leader who had an alternative to the crumbling society. His secular agenda required basic changes in the Turkish society such as reinventing the Turkish language, promoting European dresses and removing religion from the official role. In this case, the person with the vision led the movement. People were motivated to think like Ataturk to the extent that they changed their lives forever.

Ayatollah Khomeini was yet another profound personality. His aim was to reform Iran and rid the country of the West-supported secular monarchy under Shah Pahlavi. The roadmap was clear, the leadership was available and a revolution materialised. This particular revolution was different from the others since the driving force was Islam.

In Pakistan, even if the people burn down the institutions and topple the government, they will have no place to go. This essentially means that things could get worse than they already are. There is no vision, just emotions. The last time the country saw a personality capable of changing Pakistan’s ideological foundations was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Bhutto had the popularity and a vision, right or wrong, required for changing Pakistan’s outlook. His journey did not last long.

Since we have not defined what a post-revolution Pakistan would look like, seeking a revolution is childish. In a country where a huge chunk looks up to Dr Shahid Masood and Zaid Hamid as thinkers, ‘thinking’ can be termed a grave issue. A ‘developing’ country is more than just the industrial and financial status – it is a state of mind.
Samir Butt A former Youth Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Fulbright undergraduate scholar, freelance writer, public speaking trainer, IT consultant and marketing professional. He blogs at http://samiranwar.net.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Talha | 13 years ago | Reply your blogs are always thought-provoking and having a logical flow.. keep up the good writing!
M. Musabbeha | 13 years ago | Reply @Mawali you have some excellent points but I’m sorry reality is different. The true reality is, that we as Pakistani's are not ready to give in that sacrifice to bring about a change. Look around, articles "like a Pakistan with no hope", and such ideologies are a proof to our shallow mindset. What we need to realize is that that we need to bring about a change from within us, if the people are corrupt a ‘danda’ will never rectify the situation. It may be a short term relief from the situation, but in the long run it will never benefit us. The reason why democracy isn’t allowed to prosper, and why we have the same dried out, corrupt political parties is because we don’t give it that chance. "Sitting back" and asking for a change is not only myopic, but also shallow and cowardly, what a democracy states is that the people rule, and for that- even if it takes time- the people need to bring about such a change from within themselves. Wanting someone to come and clean up the mess, is selfish, lazy and ignorant-even if it takes time, this is a struggle we need to put in- I know we’re sick of struggling- but this struggle is essential- and this period right now defines what our country demands from us. As an average Pakistani, I would welcome a revolution, but what WE need to realize is THAT is not what Pakistan requires. And here is where the paradox comes in, as a populace we live in our “self righteous” bubbles, we harp on about the many problems that riddle our country, but how many of us have actively done something for it. Not to mention we’re impatient, can we afford to put in that struggle in order to achieve a brighter Pakistan- I’m not so sure. Maybe that is why we say we need an Altaf Hussain to come and clean up the process, that is why we say we demand a revolution, because deep down we’re too cowardly to admit that “saying we want to help Pakistan”-are at the end of the day- for us,-just words-hollow and meaningless. Actively, we don’t want a part of it, and THAT is what defines the fine line between being patriotic and actively wanting a better Pakistan, as opposed to sitting back and asking for a "revolution". Revolutions are bloody. And at the end of the day, it’s the poor people who suffer, as we sit back in our "cool drawing rooms". I'm sorry but I think they've already suffered enough, I don’t think they deserve to suffer anymore. Look at the word itself "revolution". According to science, it means going round in a circle. According to the English dictionary it means, riot, insurgency. Altaf Hussain's demand for a revolution is not only plain twisted, but its heartless. As a country its not going to help us go forward, it would be like going round in a circle of violence, more bloodshed, more bomb-blasts, more dead bodies lining the streets,-using our poor masses as cannon fodder, oh another hundred heartbeats. And that is where the question comes in for all of you who love criticizing our country, and adding to the babble of comments, you're not hoping for a better Pakistan for yourself or for that small segment of society which you belong to, -you're doing this for that 160 million people, who are Pakistan.
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