Could the present discontent spiral out of control?


Not that I am advocating an overthrow of the Nawaz Sharif government with all the consequences and ramifications that such an event like Mumtaz Qadri execution could unleash, but purely as an observer of human behaviour pattern and its interplay with politics within the existing national landscape of resentment against the status quo, such an event is more than likely to play out within the next few weeks then it ever was during this government’s present term. All that is needed to bring down this foul smelling, putrid, corrupt status quo is for the anti-status quo forces to coalesce around one single point of bringing down of this obsolescent regime.

The Pakistan National Alliance had shown the way in 1977 with great skill by coming out on to the streets at very short notice simultaneously across Pakistan. Lahore had notably lagged behind, but when Lahore caved in to the PNA, Bhutto’s goose was cooked. The rest is our history, perverted, otherwise. Friday was a key day in the PNA movement and today being Wednesday there’s only Thursday in between. Can those who wish to see the back of the Sharif brothers organize themselves quickly enough to hold post Friday prayer protests against the government across the country?

Without going into merits or otherwise of Mumtaz Qadri’s execution, the fact is that people are out on the streets. The religious parties, who have been loyal supporters of the Sharif’s for years, are now baying for their blood. Left to itself this movement could wane, asphyxiated due to lack of fresh air. But the risk is that it could, in a Kafkaesque way, morph into a hardcore bunch of Islamists, like the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, and start committing targeted acts of violence to avenge their feelings of having been wronged. Mr. Taseer had all the security that he needed. So did Mrs. Indira.

At the moment things are pretty tense but wouldn’t it be better, looking at the bigger picture for Pakistan, if those who have been opposed to the status quo and have registered their opposition in the national consciousness were to reach out, despite obvious differences, and involve the religious parties in a broad based movement against the status quo. The alternative is more killings which would threaten to tear this country apart. Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Yemen. Do we want to be in that list? Violent upheavals are best diffused by weaning away the would-be perpetrators before they become a clear and present danger.

Syed Mumtazuddin Ahmad is an overseas Pakistani for several decades but still passionate about Pakistan and the issues confronting it. An Ex-Banker now engaged in the Resource Sector based in Hong Kong.

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