‘Bloody’ revolution as our death wish

Published: January 1, 2012
The writer is Director at the South Asian Media School in Lahore

The writer is Director at the South Asian Media School in Lahore khaled.ahmed@tribune.com.pk

Politicians and TV anchors in Pakistan make frequent reference to the breaking out of a “bloody” revolution. Some foresee it, some fear it, and there are some who recommend it. Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif is probably trying to scare the PPP government when he says a bloody revolution is in the offing. But when he threatens a long march, he is probably thinking of being a part of it.

We are not aware how conversant our politicians and TV anchors are with revolution as historical experience, but we can feel that they imply a complete, violent uprooting of a system that is corrupt and dysfunctional. We can also see that they think this revolution will be enforced by a violent uprising of the masses. Some TV anchors recommend the coming out of the citizens on the roads to force the government to do what the people want.

Is this a threat or a prescription? As far as Shahbaz Sharif is concerned, it has to be blood, otherwise Zardari will not be scared by it. Given his poetically expressed frequent reference to his own demise in the service to the people, his bloody revolution may also consume him in the new process of radical change. Most cinematic representations of past revolutions have mobs on the barricades defying tyrannical authority.

Is this a kind of death wish? Pakistan refuses to run properly; therefore, pull Pakistan down. Is it a revolt against a tyrannical ruler? Since the government in power is elected by the people, the revolution should be against democracy itself. History tells us that democracy was chosen to end tyrannies, not because democracy fights tyranny better but because it has a built-in system of transition of power. Tyrannies and dictatorships happen when systems of governance lack rules of transition of power.

In wanting revolution against the current constitutional order, we may be in the process of rejecting democracy. What do we want in its place? For that the revolution has to have a philosophy, a charter of its own alternative system. Shahbaz Sharif wants his bloody revolution either to let the ensuing chaos destroy Pakistan or to hasten the collapse of the PPP government in hopes of bringing the PML-N to power after another election. The question is: will there be a post-revolution election?

Some street protests by public employees and students look like a precursor of revolution: public property is destroyed and state-owned corporations have to bear further crippling losses from this vandalism. This clearly is not revolution. It is the scattering of the entity called state, which is being diagnosed since the 1990s as a failing one. Where is the revolution?

The prototype revolution was the French Revolution and it was backed by the ideas of the philosophers of the Age of Reason. The Dictatorship of the People had immediate thinkers who told them what to do next after sheer vandalism and bloodbath. Despite its philosophers, the French Revolution failed to survive as an alternative system. In the case of Pakistani revolution, the only philosophy in the field is that of Sharia. Since Pakistan is already living under Sharia, a more radical version may be in order and for that the immediately available philosopher is the al Qaeda chief, Ayman alZawahiri.

Revolution lacks a party, unless al Qaeda provides it. It has its philosopher in alZawahiri and his book is The Morning and the Lamp in which he tells us what kind of Sharia Pakistan will have after he takes over. Many people will die when that happens. And that fulfils a very important condition of the revolution.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2012.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Javed
    Jan 1, 2012 - 1:49AM

    Very well written! I am afraid there are not many takers of logic in this country.


  • Ali
    Jan 1, 2012 - 2:26AM

    Did musharraf exiling the Sharif clan count as a revolution?
    PML-N is power hungry plain and simple.
    They don’t care about the country, only who rules over it.

    If they come in to power now what will they do that is different to what they did before?
    They ruled the country and failed twice. Now they are asking for an opportunity to do it for the third time.


  • Mahrukh Khan Irfan
    Jan 1, 2012 - 2:47AM

    wow Excellent Post !


  • Babloo
    Jan 1, 2012 - 2:57AM

    What more can you expect of a people who think that army, which has usurped all Pakistani resources for its own benefit and reduced the state to a hub of terrorism and penniless, are the best ?


  • Tahir Saleem
    Jan 1, 2012 - 3:02AM

    Even if an oil tanker sees an impeding collision it so huge that it takes a mile to stop. This is Pakistan, the intelligent of us can see we are heading to disaster but we cannot stop disaster.


  • Babloo
    Jan 1, 2012 - 3:47AM

    May Pakistan’s wish be granted. This situation should not persist for too long. the sooner it comes to some kind of conclusion, the better for all.


  • hamzad
    Jan 1, 2012 - 4:59AM

    Pakistan needs to rid itself of English common law…like eduction our legal system is also three tiered…ONLY baighairats have such arrangement..even your masters don’t have 3 legal or education systems.


  • Max
    Jan 1, 2012 - 5:40AM

    Such hawkish statements by the political leadership further strain the already fragile political system. Populism that threatens the raison d’etat of the state does raise some very interesting questions about the mental capabilities of the leadership.


  • Zalim singh
    Jan 1, 2012 - 9:09AM

    Since Pakistan is already living under Sharia, a more radical version may be in order

    dear sir, bone chilling.


  • Whoaaa
    Jan 1, 2012 - 10:36AM

    @Zalim singh – You must be so lost or naive . . . Pakistan does not have any thing called Sharia law! . . . what dream world are you living in. . .in reality Pakistan is the least religious country, any one and every one can do as they please with their beliefs.
    Get it now!!


  • Shayan
    Jan 1, 2012 - 11:28AM

    @Zalim Singh. Go and feed some indians. You will be of better service to your country.


  • Syed Hussein El-Edroos
    Jan 1, 2012 - 11:50AM

    Well said. Most revolutions result in major chnages, and at times the country having the revolution takes many steps backwards. People don’t seem to realize this. We are already totally disorganized. God help us in the aftermat of the revolution.


  • whomair
    Jan 1, 2012 - 12:38PM

    i have long maintained this opinion for anyone touting a “revolution” – it will be devastating and end up in absolute and total chaos. like the author mentions, revolutions need ideologies. but more than anything, revolutions require a certain amount of literacy in order to properly parse said ideologies. and as a thumb rule, they also require despots. we, sadly, seem to have none of the prerequisites. we’re more like a mindless mob fueled purely on ridiculous levels of religious idealism and the sentiment that we can one fine day, flip a switch and all the problems we face will miraculously disappear. just having that belief denies any rationale or intelligence.
    Pakistan is presently running on the world stage like an avian flu stricken chicken being chased by at least four rabid and starving cats. come revolution, we’ll be more like a headless chicken running down a flight of stairs while being chased by the selfsame rabid and much more starving cats, some other chickens and maybe even the ghost of a famous Laden. good times.


  • forgive and forget
    Jan 1, 2012 - 5:48PM


    You must be so lost or naive . . . Pakistan does not have any thing called Sharia law! .

    You mean the blasphemy law and Ahmadia persecution, all are ‘independent’ of Shariah law?


    Go and feed some indians. You will be of better service to your country.

    May be. But it is not the same being of service to a neighbour.


  • Anonymous
    Jan 1, 2012 - 8:10PM

    Really, sir we are living in Mumtaz Qadri’s Pakistan. What else is sharia law


  • hamzad
    Jan 1, 2012 - 8:45PM

    There is no place in Pakistan for secularoons, liberaloons, murtadoons…..WE need mullahs, the MOST learned amongst us to be the guides..64 years of westoxicated “leadership” has devastated Pakistan..as it devastated westoxicated Iran..till the Mullahs ( GOOD WORD..promote it) took over.


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