Winds of Change

2013 has started rather eventfully for Pakistan. Of course not all of them have been positive events but events nonetheless. This year seems to have announced itself as a year of change. Interestingly enough we should also be having elections by the end of the first quarter so that in itself is change. However there is more to this year than just an election.

The political arena has been super active with the political drone attacks, long marches, threats of a second long march, demands of the President’s resignation and of course Dr. Tahir ul Qadri. The man who popped out of nowhere after decades of obscurity and residence in Canada managed to gather rather easily thousands of people and march on to the capital for a 4 day sit in. The purpose was for electoral reforms that they want implemented before the elections. The judiciary of course didn’t want someone else to grab the ultimate anti government tag from them so conveniently an arrest order was given out on the 3rd day of the sit in. The warrant was for the Prime Minister along with 16 other individuals involved in the ongoing RPP case. This information was of course used to cheer up the thousands strong sit in by TuQ (yes I have also grabbed on to the initials which are being used by everyone).

I have been following the various columns and blogs that have been coming out ever since the whole Tahir ul Qadri band wagon took birth (again might I add out of nowhere). Cyril Almeida is a wonderful political analyst. I really enjoy reading his columns in the Sunday Dawn. I think he has taken over well from the great Adeshir Cowasjee (Late). His columns are often spot on and hit the nail right on the head. A couple of weeks back he wrote on the possibilities of who might really be behind the TuQ brigade. The three options were the Government itself i.e. Zardari, the establishment i.e. Kiyani and the army top brass or the Americans i.e. the Americans. The way things have since unfolded what with all the 5 hour long discussions with a Government delegation to neutralize the TuQ threat and what not – it would seem that the winner of the million dollar question has to be Zardari. Isolate the PML-N. Find a way to outsmart Mian Nawaz Sharif for billionth time and maybe… just maybe find a way to delay the elections.

But those are all food for thought for the political analysts and generally people who take an interest in following the various happenings and mechanical workings of our country’s political setup. The mass population however is more interested in what exactly all of this means for them. For the future of this country. I am not saying that the former group doesn’t think about this but its just that the mass population doesn’t want to hear the technical and chess moves type politics. They want answers to their questions which are basic. The PPP slogan as it started was ‘Roti, Kapra, Makaan’. That’s the kind of basics the people are looking for. They don’t want to know the route towards a more secure country. They want that delivered. Simple as that. So when TuQ came about waving his hands and thundering in his addresses to the crowds the people just drew to him as moths to a flame. A euphoria that was evident in the early days of the PTI ‘Tsunami’ in the last winter in Lahore and in Karachi could be seen now through TuQ. And this man actually did deliver something. Even if that something turns out to be a complete farce and basically a very well played ploy either by the Government or the Establishment or the powers that be. He marched with thousands of people up to the capital. He spoke endlessly for 4 days from behind his bullet proof glass. He camped in a container base while those that jumped on the band wagon had to bare the harsh weather. He got the government to yield (at least in front of the public eye). He got the opposition rattled enough to gather together and say blah blah blah blah (that’s one blah more than the usual blah). So really for the layman .. he delivered. At least until the wool is removed from everyone’s eyes.

Imran Khan and his PTI were given a wonderful tricked olive branch by TuQ to join his in this 4 day ‘Dharna’. However IK refused to join although he supported the long march. And maybe he did so quite wisely. A close friend of mine has the following theory as to why:

  • Imran Khan’s approach is different from that of TuQ. For one as he says himself that he wants change through Electoral Ballot. TuQ wants to use other methods of persuasion. Second IK wouldn’t give a speech from behind a bullet proof glass. And that would leave him vulnerable to an assassination attempt
  • The roles of Javed Hashmi and Shah Mehmood Qureshi have never really been defined in the PTI as such. It is perhaps that in the event of IK being assassinated that their roles will be defined and which is why they are in the party in the first place: to properly cash in on the sympathy vote come election time if required
  • The outcome of TuQ’s long march to Islamabad was unknown. And lets face it; even if the man delivered something there is still much of his character and his sudden popping up that leaves a whole negative vibe around everything to do with him

So keeping all of the above in mind I really do think it was in the better interests of IK to not join the long march.

His supporters, well some of them anyway, feel a little let down thou by the lack of the chosen one to participate in what is apparently the telling point of the pre election period. That he should have been at the forefront of things to direct this wind of change is something that swear by. Others however go with more or less the same theory points as those presented by my friend.

Whatever the case is, whether TuQ is a God send or a puppet of the powers that be, change is most definitely in the air. Not just by coincidence of the general elections being around the corner – but also perhaps a shift in the way the status quo works. Some of shaking up of the old guard had been achieved by the well intentioned and noble visions of IK. The rest has been achieved perhaps by the street noise of TuQ. I for one would like to see one positive from all of this: democracy (even thou it might not be true or ‘effective’ democracy so to speak) has had a minor victory. A civilian elected government will complete its tenure. There will be a constitutional transition from one democratic setup to the next. There have been no coups. There have been no opposition party pushing for the dissolution of the government. 5 years have gone. They most certainly might not have been rosy but at least it has happened.

The night is the darkest before the dawn

For the life of me I cannot remember where I saw or rather heard this from but its something I would like to hold on to for now. It something that I would like to believe in as much as I would like to believe in the fact that the winds of change are active.



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