Pakistan verily has a dynamic political history and street politics has always been a crucial part of it. Protests, processions, long marches and sit-ins have occurred during military dictatorships and civilian regimes alike. Sometimes largely peaceful and sometimes marred by bullets and blood, protest movements have achieved varying results in the past.
The most recent display of street power was done by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Tahirul Qadri-led Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) in Islamabad. While Imran Khan demanded a thorough audit of the 2013 General Elections, Dr Qadri was adamant with his demand of a complete overhaul of the electoral system and resignation of government especially for their alleged involvement in rigging and also in Model Town tragedy.
Leo Tolstoy, in his epic novel “War and Peace”, dedicated the last 60 pages to addressing the question whether a leader attains success based on his own ability or whether it is destiny that picks up a man and puts him on a historical journey. He felt that it is destiny that has the upper hand over man. No social scientist has answered this question with certainty. History remembers those who achieved success. Historians have still not resolved why Hannibal laid siege of Athens for seven years rather than attacking it to destroy the Roman Empire completely. That delay allowed them to develop a counter offensive and defeat Hannibal. In contemporary times, Barak Obama wanted to be an Illinois state Congressman but did not get a ticket in the primary election of the Democratic Party. That failure paved the way for him to become US senator and later, president.
This is what is also applicable on Imran Khan.
On the eve of Independence Day 2014, two political stalwarts marched on the federal capital Islamabad in the shape of the Azadi March and the Revolution March. Pakistan once again plunged into domestic chaos. Their followers even occupied a section of the capital and seized government buildings. The night of 31st August proved to be a bloody one, when the government cracked down on the protesters leaving some dead and many injured. After spending about 70 days Dr Qadri wrapped up his dharna, but the other show went on. However, after Peshawar tragedy, Imran Khan announced an end to the sit-in that remained staged for 126 days.
Imran Khan faced much criticism about his protest being messy and inconclusive. Critics said that forcing the resignation of PM Nawaz Sharif would weaken fragile democratic institutions.
His slogans of ‘change’ and ‘Naya Pakistan’ were attacked as illogical by his opponents. They even went on to say that if Imran Khan were successful in removing Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan would not have needed to make any alterations in the election laws because in the future there would never have been any elections in Pakistan. Governments would have been changed by ‘dharnas’.
However, the truth is that the Kaptaan has awakened the nation. People are now better informed of their rights. They have stood against the brutish system of inequality and injustice that has plagued Pakistan since long. People stood by Imran Khan not only to support him, but also because the rulers have not delivered what they had promised. People have now found a platform through which they can raise voice against the unjust system.
Some people complain that Imran is leading the nation towards a civil war or he is jeopardizing state security. This is where the contradiction lies. The society is unaware of the difference between state and government security. Standing up against the corrupt system or the government does not mean that the threat is to the state. In reality, the danger is for the dishonest administration which protects itself in the name of the state for its own securities and interests.
Allah Almighty does send help to those who want to serve their communities with honesty. That help comes in form of opportunities that are sometimes not obvious and may even arise from failure. Those that chose the right path succeed while others are relegated to the dustbin of history.
Imran Khan might have committed some mistakes and even some blunders, but those can’t downplay his achievement of turning public frustration into a political movement. It did not prove difficult for PTI to shut big cities like Faisalabad, Karachi and Lahore. Actually, IK wanted to bring restore the Pakistani nation’s lost glory. He wanted the people to be well educated, and well developed in all skills. It was not a personal fight; rather it was a battle for the people, for all of Pakistan.
As it happens with the great leaders, Imran Khan also emerged as a bigger leader after he announced the end of the sit-in after the gruesome Peshawar incident. He, while putting his demands at the backburner, also expressed resolve to stand by the government in all the initiatives it takes against terrorism.
In the end, it is pertinent to mention that we, in Pakistan, need to realise that a society cannot function unless it has a proper value system based on justice and equality of all before the law. A society can only progress if the state punishes the criminals and rewards good citizens. That is the basis of the functioning of democratic societies. The corruption that plagues our system has to be removed. New faces, educated and well deserved people in the parliament, will assure prosperity and a better Pakistan.
Imran Khan wants to restore the Pakistani nation’s lost glory. He could have just enjoyed the government in KP. He has achieved much in his life. There is no reason for being on the road other than his promise that he’s doing this for Pakistan. It’s about the difference between a better and a bitter Pakistan.