When I put this question to my partner at a recent bridge game he said that he was waiting for Plan F, which he felt would have a certain primordial significance. One of my opponents, who had just made a small slam and was gloating, thought he’d wait for Plan M. His partner said, as his wife’s name began with an N, he would wait for that phase. They were all being frivolous and I said as much. What everybody at the table seemed to forget is that after Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Imran Khan is the first politician who has displayed the kind of ferocious tenacity and determination that hasn’t been seen in a long, long time in this country. Whether one supports him or not, one must admit that he is the man who has demonstrated that all that vacuous, empathetic feel-good perception and spin espoused by Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz Sharif and the rest of the cabal who have contributed to the wretched image this country has acquired over the years, was a lot of bovine excreta.
The first time I heard the phrase ‘Plan B’ was in that highly entertaining legal sitcom — “Boston Legal”, when a leading legal firm in a Far Eastern country was about to make a hostile acquisition. I don’t remember ever coming across a Plan C, which by its very implication, sounds like a mopping up or salvaging operation on an organisation which is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy or disaster. But when Imran Khan, in his recent battery of accusations and threats, delivered with astonishing and relentless concentration, came up with his Plan C, it sounded a little ominous. What the plan implied was a complete destabilisation of the system. However, like many of Imran Khan’s pronouncements he didn’t go into too many details of the surgical operation he had in mind, so it was left to the viewer’s and reader’s imagination as to what to expect.
Perhaps, he had in mind something similar to the nation-wide protest that was engineered by Mahatma Gandhi in the summer of 1920 which was referred to as the non-cooperation movement which was, of course, inspired by completely different motives and circumstances. Rather than the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya led by Jomo Kenyatta, which was ruthlessly suppressed by the British. The action led by Gandhi had the backing of the Indian National Congress and was a significant phase of the Indian struggle for freedom from British rule. The protest was in retaliation for the imposition of the Rowlatt Act and the massacre that took place in Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar where hundreds of defenceless Sikh men, women and children were gunned down by Gurkha troops on the instructions of General Dyer. The Indian population was suffering from great economic hardships due to a large chunk of Indian wealth being exported to Britain. Then there was the ruin of Indian artisans due to British factory-made goods replacing handmade goods, and popular resentment with the British over Indian soldiers dying in World War I while fighting a war which had nothing to do with India. Contemporary conditions in Pakistan have little in common with conditions in 1920 India. And the reasons for protest are also vastly different. What they do have in common is that both are peaceful and non-violent. The daily financial loss in Karachi inflicted by the sit-ins, strikes, protests and demonstrations in which the major parties of the city and Sindh have participated runs into billions. Nobody seems to care, least of all the PPP government. So go ahead Imran but make it the last one.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2014.
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