Revolution, bloody revolution!

Published: May 17, 2012
The writer is a correspondent with The New York Times and is based in Islamabad. The views expressed in the article are his own

The writer is a correspondent with The New York Times and is based in Islamabad. The views expressed in the article are his own

Hasan Nisar, the columnist who ordinarily wears expensive watches and clothes and passionately and angrily talks about the plight of the poor, is a popular talk show guest. I like the man for his irreverent tone towards the corrupt political elite and decadent religious figureheads. But for all his apparent rationality and usually progressive views, he sometimes surprises his readers and audience.

In his weekend talk show appearance, Nisar urged sending hundreds of thousands of people to the guillotine. “We need ten thousand Tara Masihs”, he said, referring to the executioner of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Mr Nisar amended the reference to Masih, clarifying that it was only a figurative reference to the Masih that executed an innocent man but that executioners were needed to sort out the mess in the country. Nothing new here, some would say.

Such a wish for a bloody revolution is expressed often and seen as a quick remedy for the ills that have racked this ‘Land of the Pure’. The guillotines of the French Revolution are admired here, both by cracker-barrel philosophers and armchair analysts, as if they provide the only cure to the malaise that has gnawed this country. Colonel Imam (the nom de guerre of Sultan Amir Tarar), the intelligence operative who was often referred to as the godfather of the Taliban, expressed similar views in 2010, not long before he was kidnapped and eventually killed by the Taliban. I had invited Colonel Imam to my house for an interview. He was a tall man who liked to say that he understood a question even before it was completed. He narrated several tales from his experiences with the Afghans; his idolisation of Mullah Omar and how the Taliban took over Afghanistan. Before leaving, Imam raised his finger and made a prediction: “I tell you there will be a bloody revolution in Pakistan.” He predicted a grim picture where the ordinary population would pick up arms and take revenge from the ruling elite. It was the only inevitability, he warned.

I shuddered at such bloody predictions back then and was uncomfortable with Nisar’s guillotine idea. But actually, there is no dearth of those who hear the clarion of revolution and include some unlikely figures like Abdul Sattar Edhi, the philanthropist. And then there are some who say that the next military coup — if and whenever it happens — will not be a ‘bloodless coup’, as has been the case in the past.

A bloody revolution is romanticised as some essential purifying process which would ensure that rotten people are eliminated, leaving only those citizens who are pure or who want and represent change. In some ways, such wishes for blood and gore are rooted in the absolute grievances towards a political and social system that has failed to deliver. Nothing works, especially for the poor and downtrodden. So, the prevalent common wisdom is that the old order must be destroyed first in order to pave way for a new one.

But how does this ensure that those who are clamoring for blood will not become victims of this bloodshed themselves? How can annihilation and destruction be selective in its targets and predictable in its course? And how readily and easily will the subsequent chaos and mayhem give way to order and peace? Such questions are eclipsed by the fantasies of those who want a bloody revolution. It offers a quick fix and patience for an evolutionary, gradual process towards change that is running thin. Hasan Nisar is at his best when he comments on society and tears apart its inherent hypocrisy and contradictions. I hope in his next talk show episode, he can explain why he thinks the guillotine is the only way forward.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (26)

  • Moolah Raj
    May 17, 2012 - 1:45AM

    interesting article. well written


  • faraz
    May 17, 2012 - 1:57AM

    French revolution targeted the aristocracy, feudal and Church. In Pakistan, mullahs have complete stranglehold over the thoughts of the masses; a revolt against mullahs is tantamount to heresy. Mullahs have given a religious verdict against land reforms; so feudal class cannot be liquidated. The mullahs are also in bed with the generals who are in alliance with foreign patrons. Middle class wants to resurrect the glorious, although imaginary, past; and capitalists don’t care about ideologies. And Marxism/Maoism is also utterly un-Islamic. The entire idea of revolution in Pakistan is a delusion.

    I love Hasan Nisar’s advice that Pakistanis should idolize a donkey instead of a lion, because donkey is a hard working animal that never fights and happily eats whatever he is fed.


  • May 17, 2012 - 2:05AM

    Frankly Mr.Hassan Nisar thinks that the entire population of the country, minus himself, needs to be guillotined. What revolution can a man who lives in a palatial house (beyond his means one might say) talk about. He probably wants revolution where everyone loses everything and only he gets all. Haven’t we all seen him show his true colours on TV when he was in a brawl with that other joker Mr. Musahidulla. Big fraud.


  • May 17, 2012 - 2:39AM


    one of your best


  • asim
    May 17, 2012 - 3:15AM

    Salman still you need to study history & nations birh and demise


  • Shanzay
    May 17, 2012 - 4:03AM

    Gripping article with a lot of food for thought. Tx


  • Murtaza Solangi
    May 17, 2012 - 8:54AM

    Simply brilliant by Salman Masood! Keep it up!


  • Zamir Malik
    May 17, 2012 - 9:22AM

    Thought provoking article. Last time i saw an Address of Hasan Nisar in Royal Palms Lahore in a PTI campaign and he used the same rhetoric of Revolution and call the masses to usurp the higher ranks of Pakistan. Then Hasan Nisar have a luxury dinner in an air conditioned hall and afterwards with PTI officials then the crowd dispersed with the table talk of Revolution afterwards.


  • waqarlearner
    May 17, 2012 - 9:49AM

    It is difficult to understand the role of people like Hasan Nisar,it seems that he is supporting the establishment by doing non stop catharsis through his appearance on talk shows and his columns.


  • Ejaaz
    May 17, 2012 - 9:54AM

    The people of this land are not given to revolutions. Our colonial masters left 64 years ago. We now have another set of rulers who do not view this land as really theirs. They have been looting and making their palaces in richer and better places. Their families live with their colonial masters, their kids go to universities and colleges overseas, and fairly soon they will more or less abandon this land. People will starve and die but they will manage without a revolution.


  • Munir Kakar
    May 17, 2012 - 10:36AM

    Hasan Nisar as the writer has aptly described has a vision which it seems is rudimentry needs to be articulated and refined. The guillotinic doctrine he is professing is a cruel and appalling gamble and the history unequivocally suggest that its cost in terms of bloodshed, mayhem and destruction far outweighs its benefits of promised stability and social justice which in myriad of cases have not been delivered. Evolutionary and incremental processes have ultimately turned out to be catalyst for change. Pakistan i am afraid is too fragile to sustain such siesmic jolts associated with less thought out revolution.


  • Saud
    May 17, 2012 - 11:13AM

    Hasan Nisar is like the computer technician who knows only one way of fixing the error message. Format the hard disk and re-install the operating system.


  • Ozymandias
    May 17, 2012 - 1:50PM

    Whoah. That sounds just like MY computer guy!


  • May 17, 2012 - 3:21PM

    A revolution is preceded by thought leadership. There are no thought leaders in the Muslim world. There can be no revolution in the Muslim world there can only be chaos.


  • uzma
    May 17, 2012 - 6:03PM

    of course it’s always easy to elude to guillotine or to ‘long march’ but the words are meaningless without imbibing the spirit of the times these words or phrases were born!!
    they need to understand what was behind and after the french guillotine!
    good one!Recommend

  • Naveed Abbas
    May 17, 2012 - 9:01PM

    Well balanced and fascinating read!!!

    The graphic description of guillotine may seem gruesome to most of us now, but we must understand the “true essence” behind this revolution.
    The people recommended the guillotine because it was perceived as humane at the time. Before the guillotine, members of the nobility were beheaded and commoners were hanged. The Ancient Regime also had even more severe methods of execution such as the wheel, burning at the stake, or a chair that comes to a point at the top. Sometimes decapitations took several attempts, whereas the guillotine was very efficient. Also, the people saw having one means of execution an expression of equality amongst the nobility. Having said and done, for a real fundamental change, I suggest Hasan Nisar should work and study other ways to reform system. It is imperative to mention, in case of proven cases, timely justice would be publicly hang followed by live media coverage. Understanding the essence, lets work on alternative seriously, so guillotine is not at all the only way forward. Recommend

  • Huma
    May 17, 2012 - 11:29PM

    all those who call for revolution are fools! we need change, but it needs to come through peaceful means. upheaval and death and destruction does not differentiate between the good and the bad, and possibly more good people die than bad. also it is a way for the evil ones among us to rise and grab positions of power for future destruction. we all need to work for change, but we all need to pray it comes without death, destruction and chaos.

  • Anum Khan
    May 17, 2012 - 11:30PM

    it wont be fair if i point something out of it just for the sake of it!!! Very well written!!


  • Ashiq Hussain
    May 17, 2012 - 11:38PM

    the romance with revolution took place after the Khomeni’s hold on power…and how he killed his opponents and communists…!


  • zaman
    May 17, 2012 - 11:46PM

    Good one….Recommend

  • Javed Ahmed
    May 18, 2012 - 1:02AM

    Mr. Hassan Nisar is a 24/7 negative person. He was diagnosed with “Negativitis” and was under treatment by Bhatay walay Baba Pir Altaf Hussain & Chanday walay Baba Hazrat Imran Khan. After continuously praising Target killers, Bhata & Bori band lash mafia of Karachi and mummy daddy chanda party of Lahore, his new love is Sunny Itehad Council. If Sunny Itehad did not fulfill his aspirations then his next love will be Shia Ulma Council or Jamatu Dawa which ever comes first in his negative mind.


  • Humaira Shehzadi
    May 18, 2012 - 9:25AM

    Very well written article.

    Yes, i agree with mr. naveed that guillotine is not the only way forward. We have examples of revolution, lets say iranian one where khomeni sahab changed the entire system and its an exemplary revolution in the books of the history.Its been an unprecented success in Iran. Hasan Nisar should study more for better and peaceful outcomes.Recommend

  • P N Eswaran
    May 19, 2012 - 4:19PM

    @Zamir Malik:
    Hassan Nissar may be erring in his treatment but not in his diagnosis. You can sham the messenger but not the message. The wisdom of rejecting Hassan Nissar beliefs on account of his lifestyle is doubtful.


  • Knight
    May 20, 2012 - 8:48PM

    Truly a great piece!


  • subha hayat khan
    May 22, 2012 - 4:46PM

    amxing ! :)


  • subha hayat khan
    May 22, 2012 - 4:49PM

    terrifically amazing….!


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