By Dr. Haider Mehdi

“…(what) the party inside this wall didn’t understand was that the government was always intractable, no matter what the country, what the circumstances.  The government did not give in and when they said they were giving in, they were lying, every time, you could count on it.”

from the novel Bel Canto

There is a lot of lying going on by the incumbent Pakistani government – one can count on it. This government is intractable; no matter what the circumstances, it will not give in, no matter that the issue is.  Hence, it needs to be pushed away from its power base by the masses’ democratic might.  Is the demonstration of people’s power on the political horizon of this country in the near future? 

It might well be in the making.  At least we have some visible signs of a coming storm that might knock the entire political leadership off its feet.  It is so because it has become obvious to people that the present incumbent government and the opposition parties are all incompetent, backward, reactionary and Mafioso-like, timelessly entrenched and deeply dug-in – and they need to be removed from the corridors of political and economic power.

Will the recent Bagh-e-Naran “darna” become the beginning of an epic revolutionary struggle in the chronicles of Pakistan’s political narrative?  Will the 20,000 demonstrators gathered in Peshawar at the call of Imran Khan, the chief of Tehrik-e-Insaf, gradually and eventually turn itself into a mass political movement for a change in the political culture in Pakistan? Will Bagh-e-Naran “darna” transform itself into Pakistan’s Tahrir Square?  Has Imran Khan become imperative in the future political leadership in this country?  Will the political discourse in Pakistan now be conducted purely on the basis of issues that confront people?  Will people finally come onto the streets to demand their legitimate democratic rights?  Will Pakistan move out of the US hegemonic influence and form an independent domestic and foreign policy?  Will we now liberate ourselves from the yoke of our own native colonial-minded political leadership?  Are we at the verge of a new political dawn in this country? 

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Perceptive analysts will tell you that answers to all of the above questions are most likely to be in the affirmative – if not immediately, then in the not too distant future.  This process of political transformation is going to happen because of the inevitable historical synthesis:  Pakistan’s entire contemporary leadership, including the PPP, PML-N and the PML-Q and scores of other right-wing parties, exist in a mental timeframe that is from a by-gone era.  These outdated leaders, outside the loop of the historical timeframe, still treat the masses as “flocks of sheep” and believe that the populus can be pushed around at their whim in any direction they wish the voters to go.  However, this backward and colonial mindset is contrary to the present day ground realities in Pakistan.  The widening chasm between the rulers and the ruled has now permanently grown to an extent where it has been shaped into a blatant conflict of interests – a simmering collision and an evolving political discord at the verge of hostility and antagonism. 

In the near future, it will be impossible for the present ruling mafia to maintain a tight grip (as in the past) over everything, including control over elections, the structuring of legislative bodies and the domination of a subservient judiciary that have time and again unlawfully allowed them to conduct themselves with imprudent acts of political behavior.  Times have changed – political awareness in the masses is brewing a storm, subservient judiciary is a thing of the past, and even the army will not dare to take a proactive role or overzealous intervention in the civilian affairs of this country.  There is a wind of change sweeping over the nation. 

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And, in my perceptual analysis, it is here that Imran Khan’s political leadership becomes imperative: What the PTI chairperson is aiming for is the onset of an enlightened period in this nation’s history in which the equanimity and equilibrium in the political discourse in this country is maintained by a social contract between the governed (members of society) and the future dispensations, making it obligatory in words and deed, that the political leadership’s sole responsibility becomes serving the interests of the masses at large.  It has become absolutely vital now to acknowledge that people are the legitimate source of power and serving the people’s democratic interests ought to be the defining agendas of future political leadership.

Imran Khan, for one, has been tirelessly advocating people’s engagement in the election process, their participation in decision-making, and has been calling for mid-term elections as the incumbent regime has utterly failed in its mandate.  Pakistan today seems like a radar-less political entity surviving on borrowed time – at the edge of an abyss of ultimate disaster.  Imran Khan is the only one who seems to be offering the nation some political solace and solutions to its present political predicament of a void in this nation’s leadership.

Should the PTI chairperson serve in an interim government in a leadership capacity if such a development take place?  I think not.  Power, in itself, cannot be the objective of a revolutionary leader.  Political power can be, and always is, a useful instrument of change and revolutionary transformation of a backward political culture.  It can be used for institutional reforms, initiating structural changes in a political system, reshaping domestic and foreign policy,  improving infrastructural dynamics, promoting national self-reliance, setting in new directions in socio-economic planning, guiding a nation into prosperity, managing a cultural renaissance and in restoring the nation’s dignity, self-respect and independence. Indeed, it is a tall order that cannot be accomplished in the constrained time-limit of an interim government.  Hence, it is important that this complex and mighty task of nation-building must be entrusted to a leadership that ascends to power on the basis of a massive public mandate. 

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Imran Khan would be well-advised to seek popular support for his national political leadership ascendency.  Indeed, he has the credentials as well as a political platform and an agenda for change to present to the nation. 

Will the Bagh-e-Naran uprising transform itself into Pakistan’s democratic movement of the masses, analogous to Cairo’s Tahrir Square revolution?

The fact of the matter is that political conditions exist in today’s Pakistan to trigger a massive public movement to demand fundamental changes in the way present political institutions work and exist.  This country is at the verge of political, social, economic, and cultural collapse – it has never been so bad for the common citizens of this country. 

The political demise of this nation is clearly on the horizon – or a political revolution is imminent and inevitable!

The question is: Who will lead this certain impending political revolution? 

One hopes that Imran Khan can manage the transformation of his modest Bagh-e-Naran uprising to a nationwide movement for change. 

I, for one, believe that time and the tide are on his side!

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