Short of revolution

2014 and 2022 are different

In Cairo, Tahrir Square called the Liberation Square might have fascinated the Egyptians on 25 January 2011 to launch a protest movement that forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign on 11 February 2011. The square inspired several developing countries to replicate the same on one pretext or the other to cause a regime change as a bottom-up model. Pakistan was no exception. Year 2014 saw Pakistan embroiled in the agitation politics expressed through a long march and sit-in. A similar situation emerged now in 2022.

In these eight years (from 2014 to 2022), Pakistanis have failed to learn that Pakistan is not Egypt. The area constituting Pakistan has been experiencing democracy since 1861, when the Imperial Legislative Council was formed. The 20th century, especially after the Indian Councils Act of 1909, transformed habitants of the Indian Subcontinent into democratic-oriented and English-speaking residents ready to play politics in the western (British) style.

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Arguments and negotiations remained the hallmark of meetings that took place between rival political parties. Now, however, the political horizon is marred by impatience and uproars.  Without learning fundamentals, politics is practised on the basis of sheer populism earned from philanthropic work. It is assumed that charitable endeavours make one a better politician to do legislation and run the country. The assumption has turned farcical.

The dharna (sit-in) politics of today is missing Allama Dr Tahir-ul Qadri, who offered full services of his religio-political party, Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), to current protesters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI) in an effort to convert the D Chowk Islamabad into the Tahrir Square of Cairo. The Azadi March (Freedom Movement) that began on 14 August 2014, ended on 17 December 2014, without achieving anything substantial. The D Chowk could not be converted into Tahrir Square.

The PTI has failed to learn that in a democratic country like Pakistan, which is driven by a written constitution and which believes in parliamentary supremacy, there is no room for any revolution. In the current scenario, revolution is a misnomer meant for misleading the pliant minds of the youth disassociating them from reality. 

Introduced by the PTI, the current lunge is short of both rationality and legitimacy. The rhetoric is that the regime change has been introduced from outside in connivance with certain insiders, the fifth column, ever hungry for occupying the helm of affairs.

The assumption is that, before its ouster, the PTI’s government was performing remarkably well and that the success necessitated its removal before it could achieve certain enviable politico-economic feats. Driven by its own fabricated notion that foreign forces triggered the regime change, the PTI is now out to defeat the connivers who had collaborated with the foreign forces and who derived a wedge of mistrust between the PTI and its followers, who happened to be mostly youth. Pliability is the major benefit that the youth offer to their managers. The same is cashed in on.

Replicating the past, the PTI is determined to subjugate first the D Chowk, Islamabad. The only demand the party has been raising is the call for early elections. The PTI believes that power did not change hands through the democratic process of a no-confidence motion. Instead, power was snatched from the PTI which now reserves all rights to redeem the lost clout.

The underlying foreboding is that in case the time is lost to the incumbent ruling coalition of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the chance to appoint the next Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of the party’s own choice would also be squandered. The PTI is bent upon filling the post in an effort to requite the favour it received in the general elections of 2018. In that way, the party would get a COAS who would be partisan in its favour and who never would stand neutral. The PTI’s reliance on the military to act as a conjoined twin to run the country’s affairs has become the bane of the country’s politics and constitution. This is another malicious habit-forming practice supposed to ruin democracy in Pakistan.

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As a party in the opposition, the PTI has a right to demand early elections but the PTI has no right to resort to agitation and hooliganism to choke the country to exact elections. After the country’s democratic turnaround on April 10, it is the right of the PDM to run the country for the rest of the parliamentary tenure of one and a half years. There is no reason for calling early elections and there is no reason for submitting to this egregious unjustifiable demand. It is for the first time in the country’s history that a coalition in the name of PDM is trying to manage politico-economic affairs. The PDM deserves all space and opportunities to execute its resolve to run the country unimpeded.

The difference between the dharna politics of 2014 and that of 2022 is that at that time the PTI had secured clandestine support from sections of the military and the ace intelligence agency. The support continued even in the run-up to the general elections of 2018. The PDM is now determined to recreate that embrace, come what may before the next general elections approach. Like in the past, even the higher judiciary has been nurturinmg a sympathetic favourable corner for the PTI. The ruling PDM is tolerating the same, as the coalition is in no mood to annoy or defy the higher judiciary at the time when the country has been passing through an economic crunch. Negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are still fruitless, as the PDM is reluctant to reduce subsidies on oil and energy– an act that might de-popularize the incumbent government in the sight of the masses.

The PTI has failed to learn that in a democratic country like Pakistan, which is driven by a written constitution and which believes in parliamentary supremacy, there is no room for any revolution. In the current scenario, revolution is a misnomer meant for misleading the pliant minds of the youth disassociating them from reality.

The strength of the ruling PDM can be summed up in one word: experienced. The magnitude of the crisis is immense, encompassing both political and economic fields. The masses are counting on the experience of the political parties constituting the PDM to manage the country aptly.

Dr Qaisar Rashid
The writer is a freelance journalist and can be reached at [email protected]

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