LONDON: “The elephant that falls will not rise,” wrote an Iranian poet, Simin Behbahani, who passed away last month. Dubbed the lioness of Iran and nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in Literature, her words embodied the patriot’s cry against dictatorship, reckless extravagance and pride. Although the figurative elephant in Behbahani’s, “Stop Throwing My Country to the Wind,” will not rise again, Pakistan’s very own elephant has risen for the third time to haunt the corridors of power, as the revolutionaries outside our shrines to democracy call for his departure with uninspiring slogans.
Imran’s Tahrir Square fantasy doesn’t seem to have subsided. The would-be prime minister and his eager supporters, however, should know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. While Imran’s level of determination (and cricket puns) is admirable, Islamabad is not Cairo and Pakistan is not another flower waiting to blossom as a result of the revolutionary fervour sweeping the region. In this dharna of impromptu concerts and Democracy 101 lessons, ‘Go Nawaz Go’ and “tabdeeli aagaye hai yaaro,” does not make a revolution. Where have all the poets gone?
Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri’s revolution is a revolution in the most literal sense of the word: it is just another rotation around a circle that Pakistanis have been circumnavigating for years. The forces the two are trying to overthrow are the very same forces that have existed since before independence. This revolution is the same resistance against imperial overlords, the same lament of oppression against demagogues behind podiums, or democrats lurking behind khaki shadows.
The year 2014 is not the same as 2011 in Egypt or 1979 in Iran, though it is exclusively a Pakistani phenomenon. It is yet another chapter written in the saga of Pakistan, or it remains to be seen, perhaps just a footnote in the greater narrative of our nation. This struggle is against the hands that have always held power, not the head upon which the crown now lies.
The constant term in our own revolutionary equation, therefore, is the Pakistani people. It is the people that have been in shackles since 1947, and successive governments have only encumbered upon the people’s ability to break these chains while nepotism, feudalism and corruption reign supreme in the land of the pure. Democracy 101, though, does seem to be paying off, as we are repeatedly reminded of our fundamental rights by the Ray-Ban wearing Chairman himself. Then again, the Constitution is just a piece of paper, no?
The point is that this caricature of revolution is not going to turn the proverbial circle into a revolutionary square. We are beginning the same cycle of deceit and abuse. The chains have been tightened and the cancer is going to continue growing. While the revolutionaries wait to be seated on cushions to witness the throne come crumbling down, the people will continue to sing their grievances; Behbahani, in her poem, ‘And Behold’ wrote that the camel was created from “patience and a mirage.” The mirage lost its patience, though
Mohammad Zia Adnan
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2014.
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