Never Ran, Never Will:
The past century has proven time and again that most revolutions that occurred all over the world have not led to democratic and responsible leadership but simply a transfer of power — more often repressive than not.
The Herald invited writers and scholars, well versed in history and political science to share what they believe a revolution in Pakistan means. Progressive change for social justice and equality Supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf cheer joyfully at the Azaadi march in Islamabad.
Revolution, like freedom, means different things to different people. We are inspired by soaring promises of radical change and repulsed by its worst excesses. Progressive change for social justice and economic equality requires a unifying vision that is genuinely inclusive and transcends the deadly identity politics that have plagued Pakistan for more than a generation.
Meaningful change calls for credible leadership and organisations, capable not only of mobilising vast numbers of disaffected citizens but of governing when given the opportunity to do so.
Structural change of the sort many Pakistanis yearn for needs representative and democratic institutions at all levels of society, beginning with the political parties and organisations that seek the overthrow of a democratically elected but increasingly unpopular government.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan and leader of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, Tahirul Qadri, have no doubt tapped into the frustration and anger of ordinary Pakistanis, particularly young people growing up in a militarised society, wrecked by political violence and governed by elites who seem incapable of addressing even the most basic needs of a vast majority of the population.
But Khan and Qadri offer nothing new. In all the coverage of the protests, I am struck by a single split-screen image of Imran Khan strutting on stage, surrounded by male advisers, as throngs of adulating female fans, faces painted in the colours of the PTI, cheer him on — a scene reminiscent of a cricket match, but hardly the stuff of revolutions.
By Anjum Altaf In Pakistan, revolution is confused with revolt. A revolution sweeps away the old order; a revolt just replaces the faces at the top.
As we have discovered, a revolt is not enough. No matter how often the system is restarted by new saviours, it converges to the same outcome that is compatible with the attributes of the old order.
The principal attribute of the old order is stark social inequality, in which the majority is dependent on a tiny minority for access to services and basic rights. This kind of hierarchical order is compatible with patron-client forms of governance which is really what we have had in the guise of democracy.
Everything we observe confirms that our rulers consider themselves monarchs while the ruled think of themselves as subjects. Years ago, I asked a peasant why they did not elect an honest representative instead of the incumbent criminal. He took about a second to pose a counter question: Would the honest person be able to get his son out of police lock-up or employed in public service?
People are not stupid — they understand well the distribution of power in which they have to survive. A revolution would transform subjects into sovereign citizens, monarchs into accountable representatives.
This kind of revolution has yet to take place in Pakistan. The political order has not changed; the departing British left the reins in the hands of the same social class that held power under it.
Is a revolution a la the French Revolution possible in Pakistan?
No, because there is no intellectual ferment that accompanies and energises systemic change. Adrift between faith in divine providence and charismatic saviours, Pakistan seems set to follow its pied pipers into anarchy and oblivion.
Ayub fancied himself as a revolutionary figure, having assumed power a decade earlier. But neither his entry nor his exit occurred in a revolutionary context. Nor has any subsequent switch of power been characterised as anything more drastic than a coup.
A revolution, after all, entails a fundamental shift not just in the power structure but also in the relations of production.
It is a relatively rare occurrence. In a global context, the last such changes to take place were in Iran and Nicaragua 35 years ago. Nothing of that nature appears to be on the horizon in Pakistan.Rock & Roll Jihad: A Muslim Rock Star's Revolution [Salman Ahmad] on alphabetnyc.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.
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