The Politics Of ‘Dharnas’

By Ali Butt

azadi march

The ‘dharna’ fiasco in our capital’s heartland has exacerbated the tribulations of my hapless compatriots. Despite Khan’s and Qadiri’s pleas, cajoling and even intimidation—the sermons and tirades are aired intermittently on electronic media into luring large swaths of people—the public, at large, has forsaken these self-proclaimed Messiahs. Despondent, dejected and infuriated, they shall stop at nothing to have their unjust demands met. Resorting to civil disobedience and anarchy, with never even once flinching, they shall gleefully trample upon any constitution and laws to have their hideous agenda fulfilled.

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Let me assure you that the spectacle being staged in ‘D-chowk’, with its motley crew of zealots, fiery orators and gaudy music, is not a sight to behold from up close. Within the vicinity of the containers there is litter scattered all around and the place reeks of human feces. Now imagine the predicament of these people: they eat, drink and sleep in these appalling conditions. But perhaps what is even more disconcerting is their refusal to vacate the place. Seemingly, these wretched souls have chosen to stay put of their own accord. Whilst some are bewitched by the firebrand cleric’s grandiloquence, others are captivated by their “Kaptaan’s” rhetoric. Worth noting is the fact that lately there have been reports of the organizers of the ‘dharnas‘ resorting to intimidation tactics; several participants of the sit-in have their identity cards confiscated, are harassed and forced to stay at the dharna. BBC has also reported protesters being paid daily wages for their participation in the sit-in. Such credible reports have tainted the very foundations for this sham movement.

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Now consider another harrowing incident where these ‘revolutionaries’ turned hoodlums stormed into the PTV building and wreaked havoc. What happened later (we all witnessed the transgression on our television sets and social media) was clearly petrifying. The state run television channel had to be shut down for some time and we clearly were the laughing stock for the entire world. Why was the national television channel—which is considered a strategic asset for any country—left at the mercy of a few ruffians? Why the government miserably failed to secure a national institutional building is both alarming and dismaying. And being a patriot that I am, I fail to dissect the aforementioned predicament dispassionately.

Another gruesome incident that followed was the manhandling of PTV anchorperson Uzma Chaudhry by Pakistan Awami Tehreek and Pakistan Tehreek Insaf hooligans. Her purse was snatched, her dupatta thrown away and the truncheon of one of PTI/PIT’s worker hit her head. I sat aghast whilst she narrated—breaking into sobs occasionally—the horrendous incident on national television whilst her fellow anchorperson held his head, partly in disbelief and partly in shame, listening to her. Is this the Naya Pakistan heralded by Imran Khan? Is this the promised revolution prophesied by Tahir ul Qadiri?

Tahir ul Qadiri’s idea of a revolution is as absurd and preposterous as his ever changing deadlines. Ludicrous even! Nevertheless,  he never ceases to amaze his viewers on the television sets with his antics. Throngs of people on the infamous ‘D-chowk’, with their hands clasped, eyes welling with tears, listen intently to his tirades everyday. These poor folks have forsaken their homes and livelihood for their idea of revolution. And with gleaming eyes they look up to their Messiah to rid them and their compatriots of the ‘usurpers.’ The only path to salvation and glory for this hapless nation lies in the uprooting of this ‘baneful and evil’ democratic system, their Messiah would have them believe.

Social and electoral reforms through an evolutionary process are a futile exercise in our revolutionaries’ viewpoint. The idea of reforms through an evolutionary process, seems perhaps mundane and uninteresting. Besides, it lacks the glamor of a much romanticized bloodied revolution. Not only the demands put up by Tahir ul Qadiri are fallacious and fraught with loopholes but his idea of a ‘green revolution’ also a farce. Whilst the people go on living in such deplorable conditions, where the basic necessities ranging from food, shelter and lavatory facilities is inadequate, Tahir ul Qadiri’s kin resides comfortably in Canada. Such duplicity, if viewed dispassionately and rationally, only helps in the exposition of this farce revolution. It bolsters the proposition that the stated objectives of this movement are dubious. Perhaps the demands being put forth vehemently are a pretext for something far more sinister. Ironically, as it always happens, amidst the cacophony of jests and cackles, the truth eludes us and we continue being hoodwinked by the very people we look up to for salvation. But perhaps, someday, we would refuse being pawns and see past the smokescreen, someday….

More on this issue:

Say No to Political Filth!

Fascisms of every kind

Photo of the Day: Crackdown in Islamabad

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