If the Punjab government wanted popular violence to register its opposition to the PPP, it has got more than the measure it perhaps, desired. In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the incumbent ANP is under pressure from mobs gone berserk as outage went up to 20 hours in rural areas and Fata. In Punjab, after the mobs had their fill, public opinion swung more in favour of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf; in KP the mood could have swung to the Taliban as democracy’s alternative.
Public and private property was damaged or burned as the mobs, spearheaded by teen and pre-teen youths, went on a spree of destruction. Wapda installations were destroyed, which may actually further complicate the crisis: vandalism became the new creed for a generation that will make Pakistan even more ungovernable in the coming days.
In Punjab, the shortfall of 5,139 megawatts trashed the federal government’s pledge that there will be no loadshedding during sehri and iftar. Multan, otherwise inclined in favour of the PPP, erupted in destructive violence, urchins hitting the streets and putting everything in sight to the torch, including vehicles and eventually burning the Multan Electricity Supply Corporation (Mepco) offices. Mepco estimated the losses at Rs500,000, counting also the items the crowd stole.
There was no water to drink after the long outage, which provoked the mob to more felony regardless of the pieties of the holy month of fasting. Close to Lahore, Muridke saw 300 mobsters burn tyres and chant slogans against the government. They headed towards the Shamka grid station where the police tried to stop them in vain. They ignored the baton charge and vandalised the station as well as a police van. On Ferozpur Road, mobs blocked the traffic for hours in protest.
The tragic breakdown of civilised behaviour spread to Faisalabad, where the crowd besieged the Faisalabad Electricity Supply Corporation grid station, pelted stones and chanted slogans. Some of them were from a neighbouring suburb and had endured a 24-hour outage. Shockingly, in Attock, bordering KP, ‘journalists decided to launch an indefinite but peaceful protest against loadshedding’. Shocking, because this is what the Punjab government should have encouraged. In India, where loadshedding spread to seven states on July 29, this was what the citizens did.
There is politics in this anti-loadshedding protest. No doubt the common man is at the end of his patience and will be inclined to violent acts but not to the extent it is happening today. The crowds that come out are not the most educated lot, which means our ramshackle system of education has let us down, but the abandon and righteousness with which they attack public and private property is bordering on the criminal. MNAs and MPAs come on TV and harangue the citizenry against one another’s parties and raise the temperature. The mob almost expects to see themselves on the TV screen ‘teaching the government a lesson’.
The drama unfolds in the provinces while the federal government is deemed responsible. The politician in the opposition wants early elections and wants the PPP government on its knees, agreeing to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections. The chief minister of Punjab says that he has sympathy for the suffering masses of his province and has even joined a march or two. This has unleashed a change in the collective behaviour of his voters. He, perhaps, doesn’t realise how much damage his strategy is doing to his own constituency. If one glances at the spectacle of negative coverage by TV channels, he is getting flak from his ‘beloved’ masses equally with the PPP.
Like everything else, loadshedding, too, is being politicised, including the strategy of going to the Supreme Court with puny points of law. It will come to no good. The stock of the protest-supporting PML-N is down too. It may have shot itself in the foot but it has also done permanent damage by habituating the next generation of citizens to outlawed behaviour.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2012.
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No to democracy - Yes to Khilafah. Energy would be under public ownership under Khilafah as prophet Muhammad saw said “The Muslims are partners in three things: water, pasture and fire (energy), and their price is haraam” (narrated by Ibn Maajah, 2472 – both hadeeths were classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah)
This is a Raiwind Production: Written, Produced and Directed by PML-N leadership. No doubt we do have electricity problem but no where in the world one has witnessed as being done here and that also in a well organized way..
If anyone tries to destroy or damage my property I hold the right to defend it and do whatever necessary which may involve breaking their bones.
CM continue protesting with people which is great
@Ch. Allah Daad: Isn't your line for the next month : "PML-Nawaz is not a family party". You might not get your paycheck from the Punjab Govt. if you deviate from your line.
You can judge the future of a country by looking at its children
PML(N) is a party of businessmen, traders, industrialists and hard working labours and farmers. It cannot indulge in anti state activites. The elements involved are young street kids. Everyone knows which party they belong.
@awans: you obviously are biased towards PML-n yourself. The editorial was well written and portrays all our sentiments. Let me ask you a question, do you like being lied to? Do you enjoy the incumbent gov. false promises? What makes you think any party will fix this problem overnight? I hopefully will vote for PTI in the next elections but I dont think they will fix this problem in a matter of days let alone a year. Same goes for PMLn. And btw I do believe that the CM is also aggrevating the situation immensely with his provincial camps and cheap shots at zardari. We know whose to blame, we want a definite solution, not even more anger!
Completely Biased Article. Do you know in my City there was a Protest headed by PMLN and the first thing said by PMLN MPA was that do the protest as it is Your legal right but dont do any damage to the property and the protest ended in a peaceful manner. The Attitude of some hoodlums should not be blamed on One Party as Shahbaz Sharif have begged again and again not to do any property to damage in Protests. Also in my view Supporters of PMLN are most peaceful compared to all Parties as they dont run Extortion and Abduction Wings like other parties and still they get votes from the public. Also now nobody cares for PTI anymore at all in Punjab and people dont consider PTI as an Alternative. The writer should learn first the Right to Peaceful protests in a democratic countries and then should write some article.