Long march in Pakistan
The long march was the centre of attention in the past few days. The contrast between the leader and the led was all too apparent. Elsewhere in the country, tragic events happened, such as the Quetta killings and the Bara killings. However, much of the limelight was on the animated character in a pseudo-cage in the federal capital.
Whereas victory trumpets are being blown by the organisers of the march, one wonders what has been achieved that will decisively change the reality of the people of Pakistan? None it seems.
However, giving credit where it is due, there are a number of ‘achievements’ that have been made and lessons than can be learnt.
Firstly, the long march showed that how all stakeholders of present status quo, i.e. contesters of rule in democracy, will quickly come together and unanimously agree on an agenda in a day’s time. However, such level of concern and urgency is nowhere to be seen on issues haunting the masses, such as poverty, inflation, etc. This shows the priorities of these democratic politicians.
Secondly, it shows that democracy like any system has inbuilt mechanisms that prevents any radical change. It can undergo tweaks, and cosmetic changes, but essentially as a ruling system, with roots in the capitalist ideology, it will remain the same. Capital, i.e. money, will always be a major factor in influencing legislation, whether it is feudal control of democracy in Pakistan or influence of giant corporations on democracy in the United States.
Thirdly, the long march showed that ordinary people are willing to come out to demand political change. Even though they may lack clarity, and they maybe hoodwinked. In order not to be fooled, it’s important for people to gather around an idea and an intellectual leadership and not a personality based leadership. People should have clear insight as to what needs to be removed, and what should replace it.
Fourthly, the participants of the long march openly expressed their love for Islam. Many interviewed stated their desire for Islam and stated that Pakistan was made for Islam. Even though they lacked clarity on what differentiates Islam from democracy, the undertone of the protestors, was visibly Islamic, and was not secular.
Fifth, the long march, put into historical context, shows how the rulers of Pakistan, after every few years (nowadays months) try their best to re-kindle the hope of people in this failed system of democracy. From tsunami marches, to dharnas (sit-ins) to block NATO supply, to recent long march, such events have periodically vented out growing frustration of the masses in the most effective manner, as to not affect the status quo at all.
Sixth, while ordinary people were out in cold, out of sincerity. The democratic representatives joked around about the whole episode. Some stood on the sideline, and were looking to participate only if the situation developed to a point which will serve their electoral ratings. This shows their opportunist approach.
In short, one major lesson that sums up the whole episode is: ‘Democracy before democratic revolution is the same as democracy after it’. Similarly, the events of ‘Arab Spring’ in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen , where a much more natural and organic revolution took place, also shows that a change of face, or shifting from dictatorship to democracy does not drastically changes the living conditions of the people, since the system is the same, i.e. capitalism. Therefore, real change requires a radical change not just of the leadership, but of the system that runs that leadership.
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