Home Contact Us  
   

Pakistan - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4602, 11 August 2014
 

Dateline Islamabad

Pakistan: Of Messiahs and Marches
Salma Malik
Assistant Professor, Department of Defence & Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad
 

It is both tragic and funny how the poor Pakistanis take anyone and everyone for the political messiah. All this proverbial messiah needs to do is say the right things with passion and fervour. Interestingly, the way Pakistani decision-makers run the country’s daily affairs and take their subjects for fools, makes the messiahs’ work easier and convenient. Whether these messiahs deliver what they promised is a matter of great debate.

The latest in this series are the not-so-new Imran Khan, and Tahir ul-Qadri. Both promise to bring revolution by leading long marches into the capital city to the added discomfort and misery of the general public – who are quite done with long marches, cordoned cities, road blocks, cellular services shut for days and the recent addition: gas stations running out of supplies. It is essentially like being in a state of emergency, with everyone anticipating the worse and wishing for stability. But there is always a segment of the population that is willing to march along.

In a way, this is all about democracy – people voicing their sentiment in a country that has not been famous for democratic traditions. The previous military rule paved way for a democratic government, albeit hinged on extremely fragile foundations. However, despite the inherent fragility, the Pakistan People’s Party-led (PPP) government not only survived the promised five years but also instituted constitutional reforms that would, in the long run, strengthen the country’s democratic foundations, and successfully concluded its tenure via a smooth and near-peaceful political transition. This happened despite the existence of a strong, belligerent opposition and a hyper active judiciary. However, the messiahs and marches haunted the PPP just as much, primarily because of the fact that they failed to perform on the governance meter – with a ready excuse that there was no space for them to perform. 

For the current government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, however, this excuse cannot work. Voted into power with control of the most powerful province in the country, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) strength has been its strong team of technocrats, its investor-friendly vision and unlike the PPP, that was often considered the rich and corrupt boys’ club and passionately disliked by the kingmakers, the former has friends and protectors in the right places and enjoys a sizeable clout. Acting as a messiah themselves, the Sharifs and their team used the right language to a roaring success in the 2013 election; and followed closely by la capitain – Imran Khan – who was considered the best thing to happen to Pakistan in a long time. The PML-N voters were a steady traditional vote base who invariably cast their fate in their party’s favour. The captain’s voters were the first-timers, young, vibrant, and holding onto the promise that their vote really matters, and they infused energy into skeptics to cast their votes as well.

Easily distinguishable from their youthful looks and sparkling eyes as if they were revolutionaries and not part of an evolutionary process. But this is the latest fad led by Uncle Sam, where the discourse on revolution has been reinvented and reinterpreted. So the TV-anglesite Tahir ul-Qadri landed from Canada and marched into Islamabad after making strong “revolutionary” declarations at mammoth rallies across Punjab, with a large number of followers in January 2013. After a three-day sit-in seeking the end of injustice committed by the incumbent government in harsh weather, he went home in the comfort of his trailer with all promises frozen, making a mockery of everything.

Then, as now, Imran Khan was the other revolutionary torch-bearer, but not joining hands with Qadri. Once again, they will find blind followers, similar in their passion, but different in their outlook, carrying the same sentiment with which a majority of them went to vote: transforming the country into the promise these messiahs throw at them. Yet, these innocents fail to realise that these messiahs are independent in neither their thoughts nor actions. Indulging in conspiracy theories – that is a South Asian norm – their handlers have a different agenda to play. While the incumbent government’s mega transportation schemes will not change the lot and effect positive change in the lives of ordinary citizens suffering the daily brunt on gross mis-governance, these empty histrionics will too will not lead us to the promised land the public endlessly seeks.

At a time when the country is undergoing a tremendous security transformation and faces massive internal governance issues, the need is not for the rulers to act with paranoia and convert the country into a battlefield – which may, owing to their mishandling of the issue, push the country into civil unrest – but to show wisdom and insight and handle the problem at hand, manage the political crises that are much their own creation; and once settled, introspectively try and be democratic and govern the country in a manner befitting democrats; happily bid farewell to the Maulana to prepare for another march; and allow the public to lead our daily lives.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 
Related Articles
Sushant Sareen,
"Domestic Politicking in Pakistan: It's Not Cricket, Stupid!," 21 July 2014

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?

IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015

India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass

Burying the Past: A New Beginning for Pakistan and Afghanistan

India-Pakistan: Working Boundaries and Lines of Uncontrolled Fire

Of Inquilab and the Inquilabis

Zarb-e-Azb: The Decisive Strike

India-Pakistan: Faces in the Sand

India-Pakistan: Nuclear Weapons and Crisis Diplomacy

Elections in India and Afghanistan: Perspective from Pakistan

Afghanistan and Pakistan: Consequences of the American Exit

Pakistan and TTP: Dialogue or Military Action?

The Musharraf Trial & Beyond

Ten Years of Ceasefire along the LoC: Through Elections and Media Ratings

The Failed State Index and South Asia: Revisiting the White Manís Burden

India, Pakistan and the Nuclear Race: Strengthening the Risk Reduction Measures

Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Holbrooke Visit: Reviewing the Messy Inheritance

Pakistan-India Peace Process: Cautious Optimism

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.