Unfortunately, “democracy” only exists in Pakistan either through the lineage of a Bhutto or Sharif. While the masses are increasingly fed up with the regurgitated choices offered to them every election year, the PTI and PAT’s march was doubtful to bring about the changes they seek. In fact, these protests were an ill-timed distraction. Pakistan is already besieged with an IDP crisis and a military that is busy conducting the Zarb-e-Azb operation in North Waziristan. Yes, there was electoral fraud along with discontent about the poor quality of life, but a call for a “Tahrir square” revolution is not the solution. Can any rational person claim that present-day Egypt is the ideal model for the future of Pakistan?
Nawaz Sharif’s government has failed to curb electricity blackouts which share a great deal of the blame for the crippled economy. Add to that the gross lack of social justice, poverty, extremism and one arrives at a toxic mix with the right ingredients for an uprising. Case in point, the murder of eleven protestors this past June would be unthinkable in any democratic nation. However, enticing the crowd with whimsical promises such as housing and jobs for everyone is cruel and doesn’t achieve anything. Instead, energies should be focused on becoming a formidable opposition in the parliament and coming up with a realistic plan to tackle the root causes of the issue such as the ever growing population, illiteracy and corruption.
It is also important to realise that for a revolution to occur in Pakistan the nation has to be one. Since Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab are ethnic divisions within Pakistan, the very essence of revolution is missing. Rebellions are born amongst the people and not created overnight by foreign clerics in containers. For instance, the current crisis in Iraq is due to the fact that every single aspect of the Iraqi government was dismantled by the US, subsequently leading to a takeover of the country by the ISIS. Iraq is now fractured along sectarian and ethnic lines possibly even facing disintegration.
While it was clear from the start that the Azadi and Inqilab marches were not going to bring about a revolution or the resignation of Nawaz Sharif, the last few days have still been a wake-up call for the current government which has been left weak. While the government has agreed to form a committee for electoral reform, it has clearly stated that resignation of the prime minister and fresh elections are off the table. Even though Imran Khan’s cause is commendable, his methods have been irresponsible and his demands inconsistent. He should use his influence to focus on electoral reforms rather than the misconceived call for an Arab spring-style uprising, civil disobedience and resignations. Sending this farce of a democracy packing is not going to bring about a revolution in Pakistan. Instead, as many citizens have mentioned, Imran Khan should impose his revolutionary ideas in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and make that into a shining example for the rest of Pakistan to strive for. Without a proven path to pursue, rhetoric rings hollow. Pakistan can ill afford more empty promises and chaos at the moment.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2014.