NOTES FROM A SOCIAL SCIENTIST
Lessons for Pakistan from Egypt of July 2nd!
By Dr. Haider Mehdi
“However, sacrosanct to the ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people,’ is the fact an administration elected in free and fair elections should be permitted to carry out its mandate till the end of its term. This is the heart of bourgeois democracy. However, socialist democracy allows the right of recall of representatives who fail to carry out their mandate…” – a blogger
“ ‘Mother just told us that we will stop playing in one hour,’ an aide texted an associate, playing on a sarcastic Egyptian expression for the country’s Western patron, ‘Mother America.’ ” – David D. Kirkpatrick & Mayy El Sheikh
The political science discipline has a theory: Every revolution is followed by a counter-revolution. The fundamental thesis of this perspective is that the ‘status-quo’ forces never give up the fight to surrender to the forces of change. It is not simply an abstract concept, but a realistic expression of the human behavior of those political actors who are actual players in the arena of a political battle being fought to maintain and hold onto “power” while historical forces pose a challenge for the fundamental transformation of a socio-economic-political system. As such, it is a war between conflicting interests: One side determined to prevail in the maintenance of the status-quo, while the other side struggling to make space for its ideological platform to bring about a revolutionary change in a country’s socio-political system.
As I attempt to understand what is happening in Egypt, I am tempted to endorse the revolution – counter revolution theory. After all, the Muslim Brotherhood won in a free and fair election and Mohammad Morsi was elected president of the country through a legitimate democratic process. It is also known that Morsi removed several army, judicial, and political personalities, who were the vestiges of Hosni Mubarak’s era, from their respective offices. Indeed, the President did so to consolidate the power of a democratically elected government and pave the way for the smooth transition from an era of military dictatorship to a democratic stewardship. This was inarguably a process of political management that is customarily exercised in nearly all democratic countries and is absolutely legitimate and lawful.
Then how does one explain a sea of humanity descending on Tahrir Square and other parts of the country demanding Morsi’s neck – though the President had not compromised democratic legitimacy in any of his political management actions.
Morsi’s opponents claim that the President tried to concentrate absolute power onto himself by errors of judgment and his political actions of August 2012 (Morsi dismissed the defense minister and chief of staff, and stripped the military of say in legislation and drafting of a new constitution), November 2012 (Morsi rescinded a decree that stripped the judiciary of the right to challenge his decisions, after popular protests), February 2013 (the President announced elections for the new lower house in April. The poll was later postponed) and of June 2013 when he appointed Islamists to 13 of Egypt’s 27 governorships. It is also alleged that Morsi had alienated a sizeable political community from taking part in the democratic process in favor of the Islamists from his party, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Let us admit, for the sake of deliberation, that Morsi had, indeed, made errors in his political judgment and political management strategy. But does that justify the Egyptian army’s dramatic military intervention to oust him, and the political developments that are taking place including growing violence threatening a civil war situation in the country. Added to this is, apparently, a highly organized campaign to disparage the Muslim Brotherhood and its entire leadership for instigating violence and inflaming public emotions. Indeed, the army has sided with Morsi’s opposition.
It is ironic to note that the so-called champions of democracy in the West have not condemned the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Egypt. In fact, Tony Blair (the former British PM and the architect of the Iraq War) wrote in The Observer that “the events that led to the Egyptian army’s removal of President Mohammad Morsi confronted the military with a
simple choice: intervention…”
Now details of President Obama’s direct involvement with Morsi government officials have become public: “The United States officials repeatedly urged Mr. Morsi to compromise with the opposition and include it in the government. In December, President Obama met with Mr. Haddad, Mr. Morsi’s foreign policy adviser, in the Oval Office to deliver the message…”
In the final hours before the military intervention, President Morsi received a call from an Arab Foreign Minister “… acting as an emissary of Washington… and he asked if Mr. Morsi would accept the appointment of a new prime minister and cabinet, one that would take over all legislative powers and replace his chosen provincial governors.” In fact, this was a demand for
an absolute ‘de facto’ transfer of power to US-chosen leadership in Egypt and minimizing the democratically elected Morsi and his party’s (the Muslim Brotherhood) role to an insignificant part in the Egyptian political system and future decision-making process.
Don’t Washington’s demands for a camouflaged change of regime in Egypt (on the face of it remaining a democratic set-up while completely changing in its significance by politicalcoercion) subscribe to my theory of counter-revolution? Indeed, the opposition in Egypt had been successful in mobilizing a mass movement against Morsi (because of several urgent economic hardships and failure to deliver expected services). The crux of this political development is that a military intervention has been accorded legitimacy by the US and all of its Western and Islamic allies. In fact, it appears that this entire political manipulation of the July 2nd Egyptian uprising has been initiated by the US to continue its global hegemony as well as Israel’s security and economic interests granted to it during Hosni Mubarak’s era. In addition, regional Muslim leaderships also see the political status-quo in their domestic interests and for foreign policy alliances.
What are the lessons for Pakistan from the July 2nd uprising in Egypt? First: If the common citizens’ present-day massive economic-social deprivations and security concerns are not taken care of urgently, a mass public movement against the incumbent leadership is most likely to erupt suddenly with extremely destructive and yet to be imagined consequences.
Second: Should such an eruption out of people’s desperation and frustration take place, a military intervention (not political take-over) will be welcomed by the majority of this nation’s suffering masses.
Third: Politicians and civil leadership’s dramatic and evasive rhetoric is not a substitute for real problem resolution in present-day Pakistan. The incumbent government in Islamabad has to deliver – Pakistan’s masses have suffered enough and their patience with the theatrics of politicians has run out. It’s time for action and concrete results – failing will have nightmarishly destructive counter-democratic consequences.
Fourth: Pakistan’s incumbent civilian regime needs to resolve the people’s issues on a crisis-management level. So far, it has not adopted any “Out of the Box” strategies and the traditional economic-political management system is laden with flaws and is a sure recipe for failure.
Finally: Have no qualms about it: Should a military intervention take place in Pakistan at a future date, given the prevailing ground realities, it will be accorded legitimacy by the people of this nation as well as by the friends of Pakistan in Washington, London, and every other capital of our friendly neighbors.
Mother will certainly tell, at the appropriate time of its choosing, when to stop playing!
That has been historically the intrinsic modus operandi of Mother America!