What about the common man?

By Saniya Ahmad

azadi march

It has been 3 weeks since the Azadi/Inquilaab March started. Thousands of people came out of their homes to march against the current government for their poor governance. They have been living without proper shelter and sanitation for weeks now. Every night is dangerous for them for fear of attack by the police. And if that isn’t enough, there is frequent rainfall, much of which continues throughout the whole night.

It has been 3 weeks. And these people haven’t even THOUGHT about going back to their respective homes. Why? Because they have already experienced worse conditions and for them, this couldn’t get any worse. They don’t have electricity, gas or water. They’re unemployed. It is difficult for them to even provide food twice a day for their families. How worse could it get for them?

Meanwhile, an egoistic war carries on between Imran Khan, Tahir-ul-Qadri and our very own Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. None of them refuses to back down. None of them refuses to negotiate through talks. At this point, I believe their egos have reached such a high point that maybe they have forgotten about the common man, and just want to win this for the sake of their egos. But what then?

I don’t doubt the honesty of Imran Khan. Regardless of how immaturely he has handled the situation and regardless of how his speech has been a tad bit abusive towards Nawaz Sharif, he still seems to be an honest man. But now, after this egoistic war, it also seems as if his ego has gotten the better of him.

But I rant not for the politicians but for the common man. Who looks after them? Who cares for them? Who provides for their basic needs? They have been sitting in the open air for 3 weeks now, and who knows how long they’re here to stay. Some of them have been beaten up. Some of them have been injured. 3 of the women have even passed away. Did they expect that they would die waiting for this independence that maybe isn’t going to happen? Did they expect they’ll have to sacrifice their lives? I really don’t think so.

I don’t for a second sympathize with the government, because if the protesters were peaceful, they should not have ordered the police to throw tear gas and rubber bullets. Rumors have it that actual bullets were also fired. Blood donors were called from all over Islamabad and Rawalpindi to help the injured, and when they arrived, the police would not let them in. According to some reports, proper treatment was not provided to the injured, and they were being discharged without any medical care. A friend’s mother was also shot when she ran to help a baby girl. There were women in that March, there were so many children. And still the government orders the police to fire bullets.

On the other hand, I don’t sympathize with Tahir-ul-Qadri or Imran Khan either, who make decisions on the spur of the moment, thinking they can win this war and topple the government by their spontaneous decisions, not realizing that lives could be lost and people could be injured. And their supporters follow them blindly, because most of them neither know the first thing about politics nor can they see the pit their politicians might be throwing them into. Yesterday, when people (Tahir-ul-Qadri’s supporters or Imran Khan’s, we still don’t know) marched into the PTV station and allegedly vandalized it, after calling them back and scolding them for doing so, both TuQ and Imran Khan gave statements that these people did not belong to their party. But how can they not? Both leaders have been giving speeches, in which they have been instigating their supporters against the government. Didn’t they realise the people would get violent? These people are, after all, here for their freedom, and the leaders have told them that no freedom comes without struggles and fights.

I worry. Not for the politicians. Because whatever the outcome may be, they’ll still end up in their mansions with their money and their luxuries. I worry for the common man. I worry for the lives lost. I worry for the injured. I worry that when they return to their homes, and circumstances don’t change, there will be more bloodshed. I worry that when they return to their respective cities, more violence will be incited. I worry that they will realize that they have been used in this power game. I worry that when they realize that, the politicians might have to run for their lives.

This protest should be for the common man and for him only. Egos need to be put aside. Money and power needs to be put aside. And the politics need to start thinking more about the country and its citizens and less about themselves.

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