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Paradox of revolution

By       Message Aneel Salman     Permalink
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Uncle Sam must be happy as waves of democracy are sweeping across Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and Libya. Now America does not have to send its forces for the restoration of democracy as its happening for real and people are on streets against the dictators. But I have few questions- Are revolutions only against dictators? Are revolutions to change the governments? What is the objective of all this chaos? Do we really achieve our goals with such change? Is the common man happy? Well, time will tell us when people of Tunisia and Egypt (and maybe Libya) will narrate it in years to come.

 

I do hear some chanting of such waves of revolt may reach in the land of Pakistan. Conditions seem quite conducive on both political and economic fronts. Even the former cricket skipper turned philanthropist turned politician Imran Khan is predicting such movement, having strong faith in the youth and the power of technology like face book, blogs or twitter. We did experience a kind of "mini-revolution" in the recent past 2008-09 a revolt where media and lawyers joined their hands against Pervaz Musharaf for the restoration of judiciary and forced him to leave Pakistan. But with the demise of the dictator regime and birth of democratic elected government million dollar questions still remain unanswered: Has Pakistan achieved the glory it has been destined for? Have we won the war against terrorism? Are drone attacks contained? Is inflation controlled? Has CNG and electricity loadsheding stopped? Is there any cap on corruption? Have we finally become our own masters and mistresses?

 

We all know the answers and if any citizen is still naïve just read the newspaper or switch on your television as every channel is talking about how bad things are at the moment and forecasting a bleak future. I am not saying that dictators are good but I am also confused about our democracy. Is this how it works everywhere and should we predict this is how it's going to be in Egypt and Tunisia?

 

In Amartya Sen's "Democracy as Freedom', voice is increasingly acknowledged as a critical ingredient in poverty eradication. Freedom of expression appears to be a guarantee against famine and malnutrition. Famine can only occur if nobody is allowed to criticize government policies and corrupt practices that lead to food shortages and crop failures. Ironically, a different scenario persists in Pakistan, especially the media. All one sees are political bulldog fights where one party is fighting and proving its point to another party and whats worse there is no such thing as "objective, unbiased" reporting anywhere!

 

"Genesis of Lotacracy" is the topic of discussion for every channel nowadays. The problems of common man are dramatized in such crude manner that we feel ashamed to be Pakistani. Simulations of American political satirists like John Stewart are hopelessly copied in their worst form by making cheap songs and humiliating political leaders. This is how media is promoting democracy and voice of the poor.

 

I recently saw Pakistan from Hammad Khan's lens in the movie "Slackistan' which portrays a stark, clear cut social, economic and cultural divide in our society.   But this is not the only thing I can need to see in order to be shocked at how divided our nation really is"all I need to do is go over any Pakistani blog, Facebook and Twitter update of the so-called "right wing liberal, modern, secular" citizenry.

 

It will be a mockery to even talk about the "advent' of revolution given the current state of this torn nation. Can the classes and masses unite when the rich feel no pain of soaring prices, energy crisis and street terrorism?

 

We can only wait and watch the silent death of the poor and the changing political faces with common goal to convert Pakistan into an abstract reality.

 

The writer is a Fulbright scholar and an academic.

 

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Aneel Salman, a Fulbright Scholar, holds a PhD in Economics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. His current areas of research include public policy, institutional governance, climate change and the Pak Afghan security nexus. He (more...)
 

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