Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Revolution in Pakistan? As in the Systemic Kind?

After my intemperate outburst yesterday, maybe it is time to finish up and post something that's been hanging out in my draft folder. I mentioned that post yesterday that my opinion is that if and when a revolution comes in Pakistan, given that the country already has an imperfect democracy in place, it will be on the basis of a revolt against the conditions of people's lives and a dysfunctional system.

The point to note that is there's a lot of  "there's a revolution a-brewing" rhetoric in Pakistan today. But it's not just since the Arab Revolts broke radio silence; it's been around for a while. Here's something adapted from a reply I sent a journalist here in the US before January:

People like Daniyal Mueenuddin dismiss it with a point of view held by quite a few people: the "Oh, these/us Pakistanis don't have it in them/us." But, the parallels to the time in which Chekhov and others wrote in Russia cannot be ignored. [See this for what I am talking about: http://bit.ly/ROS-Daniyal and the whole series at: http://bit.ly/ROS-Pak30 ]

But consider these factoids:

From Musharraf talking about the need for "a stronger distribution plan of wealth between the rich and poor" (in a Facebook status), to a nationalist blogger tweeting about Via Campesina, to Imran Khan and the MQM separately claiming to have "have always had a Progressive (taraqqi-pasand)" agenda. This in a country where commie thought has been anathema almost more than in the US.

Worth noting also is that each of the people/groups I just mentioned are those casting around for a way to connect with and build a broad base across the whole nation. On the other hand, as an uncle of ours here in California observed the other day, the professional politicians, the opportunists on the inside, so to speak, can often be found on talk shows opining that if we don't find a way to "make things better", then "inqalaab", revolution, could break out.

Flash back to the period when Musharraf was on his way out, and when Benazir was assassinated. One of the questions that kept coming up was "Is Pakistan, will Pakistan become another Iran?" And the best answer I heard was from the intellectual who is now Pakistan's Ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, when he said (paraphrasing here) "Not right now; but if the people of Pakistan keep getting kicked around and dissed for another 10 years, then, yes; Pakistan will become another Iran-in-the-late-70s."

Now do the math; how many of those years have passed since?

Will it really happen? Suddenly, with the rolling revolt moving our way from Tunisia, who knows?
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