KARACHI: For political analyst Dr Ayesha Siddiqa, the existing middle-class of the country will not bring about a revolution. She claimed that it was a mere fantasy as the middle class did not have the capacity to do so.
While speaking at the ‘Bringing change in a Praetorian State’ event organised by Karachi Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences on at Jinnah Medical College’s Dr Zaki Hasan Auditorium, she said that the youth today, was divided and did not know which direction it wanted to go in.
“Everyone in the country has been calling for a change - a call for a better system,” she said. “But this has been going on for the last 50 years.”
According to Siddiqa, the faces and governments had changed a number of times in the country’s brief political history but we have never had a complete ‘regime’ change. She termed this trend the ‘partial Arab springs’ that momentarily lifts the spirits of a few people.
The political analyst raised doubts about whether the middle class was as great and revolutionary as some people were making it out to be. Even though some experts estimate that nearly 60 million people in Pakistan fit the middle class income bracket, Siddiqa questioned whether the middle class existed at all.
She explained that the term ‘middle class’ originated in Europe and was used to define a class of people formed after a long political struggle and was capable of challenging the existing power structures of the state. She said that the so-called middle class in Pakistan lacked the capacity to challenge the establishment. She added that simply put, these people should be thought of as ‘middle income’ class.
Siddiqa said that the middle class in Pakistan was not too different from the ruling elite and was equally attached to the establishment.
While speaking at the event on Sunday, she claimed that last year when she conducted a study, she found out that the worldview of the young people studying at prestigious institutions in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad was not different from those studying at madrassas. “The people who don’t support a mullah, cling towards the military establishment,” she said. “These neo-conservatives swing between not supporting the mullah to supporting the military led establishment.”
She gave the example of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and said that it was a party which was capitalising on the middle class. She added that it presented itself as a party that would bring about a change in the country.
According to her, the PTI wanted a democratic set-up that would suit them and didn’t mind being brought to power with the backing of a military led establishment. She added that the PTI like all other political parties, believes in an extra constitutional change.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2011.
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