Do we have any idea how many protests are taking place in Pakistan these days? Probably no one does, because no one is keeping track. The frustration amongst the general public is increasing because these protests mean bloodshed.
Typically, in a protest, political parties participate for a few minutes, pose for pictures and that’s that. They are thus not a real threat to the government. It is only when a political person decides to bear the tear gas and sit with the protestors for a long time that they become a nuisance for the government. This gets media attention, getting the protesters some real advantage.
It is only at this point that accusations of politicisation from the government start getting levelled.
The protesters would not be on the streets if their elected representatives were raising their concerns in parliament. After all, votes of these very protesters got them elected to parliament. Therefore, the more the number of protests that are held, the more obvious is parliamentary failure. When issues are discussed on the streets and not in parliament, then parliament’s utility and supremacy is certainly under doubt.
On February 27, legal proceedings in all lower courts of Sindh were suspended because judicial officials in a court in Malir went missing. The Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association was also protesting throughout the month of February for promotions and other concerns. Faculty members of universities in Sindh protested against the decision of the Sindh governor to fix what they said were unjust medical allowances. On February 4, union council secretaries protested against the transfer of 20 secretaries to Karachi from Larkana. The employees of Shah Abdul Latif University have been protesting for their just remunerations since January to date. Also, in January, around 11,000 doctors who have been denied promotions in Sindh protested, as did the Pakistan Veterinary Medical Association, representing 2,000 jobless doctors. On January 7, the Hyderabad Action committee and villagers protested against their land being sold at throwaway prices by the government, who claimed ‘qabza’ on their lands.
This shows that if Sindh government employees are mostly protesting against their own government, the Sindh government is hardly being productive. None of these concerns is worrying the government, simply because its incompetence is keeping it well-occupied.
It is high time that civil society noticed these worrying trends. Parliament’s utility as well as the executive’s governance is under serious doubt, since they are turning a blind eye to all these protests.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2011.
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