منگل، 1 فروری، 2011
Pakistan may face Tunisia-style unrest
Although the historical trajectory in Tunisia and Egypt, which led to a popular revolt, is very different from that of Pakistan, nevertheless, there is a lava bubbling under the surface here too due to the failure of successive regimes to ensure the provision of even the basic necessities of life to the larger segment of society. Pakistan’s history of incompetent democratic regimes and dictatorial military governments has left the people with few choices. A rudderless, directionless people who reposed their trust in democratic governments have been disappointed so far. Therefore, the raw material for a revolt is very much there. Can an ostensibly democratic government prevent that lava of resentment and anger from erupting?
One should in any case be cautious in dismissing the possibility of a movement of the people in Pakistan. However, there is another dimension to the situation here, which could be the cause of great concern. After four decades of nurturing of jihadis and extremists, any popular revolt will be at risk of being hijacked by extremist forces, who have recently rallied together on the issue of the blasphemy laws and are not in a mood to arrest the momentum of their campaign against the government. In these circumstances, the people of Pakistan have the sorry option between an inept and corrupt political leadership and the entire spectrum of right-wing forces from centre-right to extreme right. The decline of the liberal, democratic and progressive community is at the heart of this crisis. Unless these forces strengthen their cadre, induct fresh blood into their ranks and mount a challenge to the extremists, Pakistan has little hope of salvation.