- PTI spokesman says reason behind protests is ‘frustration’, condemns Lyari protest
- PPP’s Sherry Rehman says blockades, blood are no way to show disagreement
- PML-N’s Abbasi says politicians are not angels, should be held accountable
- Political analyst Rasool Baksh Rais warns ‘established political elite’ not to take their electorates for granted anymore
LAHORE: Political analysts have said that the incident of stone-pelting at the convoy of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari during Lyari visit should be a cause for concern for the established political elite of the country as the nation has begun to develop new political consciousness.
“It is the political reawakening of the nation,” said political scientist Rasul Baksh Rais.
However, politicians dismissed the notion of “political reawakening”, saying that constituents have held them accountable in electoral campaigns in the past too but media is highlighting the issue more now.
On Sunday, the visit of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to Lyari–a PPP bastion–was marred with protests as a sizeable group of protesters had resorted to stone-pelting and sloganeering against the former ruling party of Sindh.
The convoy was going from Baghdadi area to Juna Masjid when the stone pelting and protests had started. The protesters had also managed to smash the windshield of several vehicles. As a result of the violence, at least six PPP workers were injured.
Similarly, several candidates had also faced the wrath of their voters during visits to their respective constituencies for electioneering.
Former state minister of finance and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Rana Afzal Khan, former Sindh chief minister Murad Ali Shah, Jamal Leghari, Shahid Bosan, former leader of the opposition Khursheed Shah, PML-N leader and former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Khurrum Sher Zaman and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Farooq Sattar were among the politicians who had drawn the ire of their respective constituents.
‘AS POLITICIANS, WE ARE ALWAYS ACCOUNTABLE’:
Talking to Pakistan Today, PTI Spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said that the reason for these protests is frustration.
“At least 64 per cent of Pakistani population is less than 30 years of age and youth get frustrated very easily,” he elaborated, adding that the “past governments have failed to resolve country’s basic issues, particularly water issue, which has angered the nation”.
The PTI leader partly credited social media for the “increased awareness” among the masses but gave most of the credit to his party chief Imran Khan.
“The ‘rise of Imran Khan’ has led people to question the ruling elite.”
When asked about the PTI candidates also being held accountable by the constituents, Fawad feigned ignorance.
He went on to add that people are recording their protest in this manner more often now to get famous on the social media.
Commenting on Bilawal incident, Fawad condemned the incident and said that there is no place for violence in politics.
“No political party should encourage this type of behaviour,” he asserted.
Senior PPP leader Sherry Rehman told Pakistan Today that the party has no issue with protests or demands.
“For PPP, it’s an integral part of the democratic process,” she said. However, physical violence as a form expression is completely unacceptable, she added.
“The growing trend of spewing hatred towards all is troubling and should be discouraged,” Sherry said.
Talking about Bilawal incident, she said that Lyari protest was not about water. “We [PPP] recognise that there is a water crisis in Lyari, even in Karachi, and the issue must be addressed expeditiously.”
However, blockades and blood are not the way to show disagreement. It was not a protest but a criminal activity, she said and added that the FIRs [First Information Report] have been registered against miscreants.
Talking to Pakistan Today, former prime minister and senior PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that politicians are always accountable to people.
“We are not angels, we make mistakes and we should be held accountable for it,” he said.
“I have been contesting elections for past many years and in every electoral campaign, constituents have come with their questions, holding me accountable,” he added.
However, the former premier blamed the media for “staging the recent encounters of ‘constituents’ with the politicians for ratings”.
On the other hand, Rasul Baksh Rais lauded the voters for questioning their representatives, warning the “established political elite” not to take their electorates for granted anymore.
“People are questioning the powerful and influential political elites, which is a step towards progress in democracy,” he said. There is an increased political participation due to social and electronic media, he added.
Raees disagreed with politicians on Bilawal incident, saying the form of protest was condemnable but “political established elite” by not admitting that it was a form of protest and part of democratic process are not willing to understand the masses.
“If politicians start admitting that it was not a conspiracy, they might have to reflect on their policies which they are not willing to do,” he said.