A Catalyst For Democratic Change or Contradictory Processes?


In line with Imtiaz Alam, this column written by him has been censored in Pakistan the place information portals have refused to publish it. The Wire is publishing the article to make sure it reaches a large viewers in South Asia and the world.


When Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman created a stir after arriving within the capital of Islamabad by saying that the Azadi March had potential to enter the prime minister’s home and arrest him, I recalled the plight of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif beneath the siege of the Imran Khan-Tahirul Qadri sit-in. I as soon as requested him about his scenario when rioters had been knocking on the doorways of PM Home, and Nawaz Sharif instructed me how helplessly he was awaiting his personal bloody demise. However, regardless of a lot better numbers and motivation, the Azadi marchers needed to keep put, away from the Crimson-Zone since Prime Minister Imran Khan nonetheless remained in protected palms.

In contrast to Imran-Qadri’s lengthy sit-in, sponsored by these making an attempt to destabilise the Sharif authorities, the Azadi March is an illustration of the downtrodden individuals of probably the most backward areas —predominantly from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan and partly from Sindh and southern Punjab — in opposition to their deprivations and the phantasm of a “false consciousness”.

It might, nevertheless, develop into a catalyst for contradictory processes that may be completely different from what’s contended by antagonists in a precarious civil-military equation. No matter non secular overtones, it’s the frustration of the toiling plenty of disadvantaged Pashtun areas that has fuelled the revolutionary sentiment into the average conservative sections of the Deobandi college and the Pashtun nationalists.

We see within the march, the wrestle of annoyed Pashtun youth for his or her democratic rights. Irritated with the populist mimicry of ‘change’, the secular Pashtun nationalists Mehmood Khan Achakzai (PKMAP) and Mian Iftikhar Hussain (ANP) and the motivated cadres of Jammiat Ulema-i-Hind’s anti-colonial legacy have joined palms to problem a Viceroy-type, semi-colonial authoritarian construction.

Surprisingly, a JUI activist from Baluchistan even instructed me that “the overthrow of Prime Minister Khan is just not (their) final purpose; he ought to slightly be pressurised to hitch palms in (their) wrestle for civilian supremacy”.

Because of the foot-dragging by the so-called liberal events of the centre-right and centre-left, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F is just not ready to immediately overthrow the Imran Khan authorities alone. It might, nevertheless, trigger a severe dent within the diarchy of quasi-civilian and authoritarian constructions. Curiously, ousted from energy, heterogeneous forces must be rallying in opposition to an exclusionary hybrid political construction.

Fazal-ur Rehman, president of the non secular and political celebration Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam – Fazal (JUI-F) waves to supporters throughout what they name Azadi March (Freedom March) at Lahore on October 30, 2019. Picture: Reuters/Mohsin Raza

Certainly, the “established order” that Imran Khan vowed to interrupt is in a quandary by the hands of sham populism that ousted the events of outdated regime and brought on the marginalisation of most of conventional elites — each city and rural. Coopted as a civilian façade by the highly effective post-colonial power-structure, the populist regime has created a void with out filling it with different forces of ‘change’.

The regime of ‘change’ has slightly strengthened an autocratic power-structure at the price of dominant civilian parts and has, consequently, strengthened a worse established order tilted in opposition to the constitutional order.

Using a conventional conservative onslaught and exploiting the miseries of the agricultural plenty of probably the most marginalised areas, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman is making an attempt to win again the area misplaced with the break-up of the three-decades outdated mullah-military alliance.

Although the Maulana spent lengthy years in democratic resistance in opposition to probably the most reactionary army regime of Basic Zia-ul Haq, he after shedding the prime ministerial contest in opposition to Basic Musharraf’s proxy prime minister Zaffarullah Jamali in 2002, turned a junior companion of the army regime beneath the aegis of his Mutahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), which shaped the federal government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and have become a coalition companion in Baluchistan.

At the moment, he had accused Basic Musharraf’s political henchman Basic Zamir of horse-trading to subvert his maiden effort to develop into prime minister and now he, together with the Pakhtun nationalists, accuses Basic Zamir’s successor for his rout in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan.

He has strongly aligned himself with the opposition’s outcry in opposition to what it alleges is the “stealing of the favored mandate”. In reality, each the victims of the authoritarian legacies of Basic Zia-ul Haq (PPP) and Basic Musharraf (PML-N) discover a widespread trigger in opposition to what they understand because the propped-up puppet regime, whereas without delay vying to seek out favour from the powers that be.

This is similar tendency for co-option and capitulation with autocratic institution that value each the PPP and PML-N governments closely. They suffered attributable to their mutual hatred, regardless of the Constitution of Democracy, and have now deserted the Maulana. With out even successfully taking part within the Azadi March and exploiting Maulana’s rabble rousing to his benefit, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif even flouted the directions of Nawaz Sharif with the intention to get some concessions for the medical remedy overseas of his critically sick brother. He has additionally, primarily, pushed ahead his candidature in a possible in-house change.

Conscious of Shehbaz’s Machiavellian machinations, a willy Maulana activated his reference to the well-connected Chaudhris of Gujarat, who on getting some wink from the suitable quarters acquired into the treacherous enterprise of mediation. Ready on the sidelines, the Speaker of Punjab Meeting, Chaudhry Pervaiz Ilahi might stage a pleasant coup in Punjab the place chief minister Ashiq Buzdar has already miserably failed.

The ‘middle-way’ being sought by the interlocutors might, nevertheless, develop into a precursor to an in-house change that might ease the political pressure being perpetuated by an smug Khan whose disgusted allies appear to be desirous to see his again.

After triggering the battle inside and discovering his allies lacking, Maulana averted leaping the gun and determined to place his keep inside the safer limits of ongoing power-play.

His two-day ultimatum for the prime minister’s resignation and its indefinite postponement allowed him the time to barter with those that wished to maintain their imposing area. Bilawal Bhutto’s apprehensions about the opportunity of a takeover by the “third drive” – although basically unfounded since it’s already in command – is coming into play in a really refined means, if not instantly, however within the close to future.

The difficulty of timing was and is kind of essential. Maulana’s onslaught appeared untimely and he ought to have waited for the fourth quarter of this fiscal yr. He additionally miscalculated the eagerness of the 2 mainstream events, who had been nonetheless not ready to select the cudgel for civilian supremacy. Had they not been affected by their expedient political pursuits, they might have joined palms not solely within the lengthy march but in addition in a joint sit-in that might have successfully paralysed a duel-power construction.

Within the wrestle to resolve the principal contradiction in civil-military relations, a conservative Maulana aimed for a better decision than his liberal allies who’re nonetheless not resolved for a constant democratic stand.

Consequently, it allowed Maulana to seize the centrestage. Deserted by his liberal allies, Maulana is now comparatively free to play his card to his benefit, with those that can have a cut price with him.

Barring his resignation, PM Imran Khan is exhibiting some flexibility on the problems which can be of better concern to the helmsmen. However nobody throughout the political spectrum is able to shake palms with PM Khan, who has created a debilitating animosity inside the entire political class. He has misplaced adequate standard assist, besides those that stay enamoured by his cult, and has didn’t ship on most of his wild guarantees.

His foremost plank of accountability of the corrupt has boomeranged due to the witch-hunt and political victimisation of his main opponents. Surrounded by sycophants and newbie loyalists, he has no possibility however to more and more depend on his non-political patrons. The extra he depends on the institution, the better the area he loses to wriggle out of the political mess that he has additionally accentuated.

The Maulana has dared to problem an authoritarian system, however the destiny of democracy will stay in doldrums till all democratic forces mobilise the downtrodden individuals of Pakistan and the Punjabis don’t stay sitting on the fence. The Maulana has prolonged his sit-in until subsequent week within the hope of getting some political dividends, however a unified democratic wrestle stays a farfetched dream.

Imtiaz Alam is a Lahore-based journalist and a founder president of the South Asian Free Media Affiliation (SAFMA).


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