Not in Pakistan – We’re better off, actually


Rarely, if ever, does our beleaguered Republic seem good in comparison to any country. But it appears that the furious citizens of Tunisia and Egypt want what we have here in Pakistan. True, they dont want a military that remains more powerful than it should, as is the case here; true, they dont want the very fabric of society to be at risk from Islamic obscurantists; granted, they dont want an economy that has seen better days. But the situation in Pakistan, warts and all, is something that they would kill for.

But even here, those whose meal-ticket is selling doomsday scenarios would not agree. In fact, they would use example of the storm that is gathering in the maghreb to illustrate that the end is nigh in Pakistan as well. They could not be farther from the truth. There is a huge difference between the realities of Pakistan and those of Egypt and Tunisia. We cannot have backlashes like the aforementioned because we dont have or have ever had regimes as totalitarian as those. Not to imply that the tin-pot military dictators of the past did not want to. But because they simply couldnt. How about counting the blessings of our lord? First of all, it is generally accepted that an ethnically homogenous society is far more conducive for totalitarian dictatorship than a heterogenous one like ours. This is not a comment on the Arab people, they are as passionate as they come, this is just how demographics work. Secondly, the argumentative Indian effect, as propounded by Amartya Sen, argues that the denizens of the sub-continent like to argue. A lot. Such a populace a docile polity does not make. Thirdly, the

British tradition of parliamentary politics seems well-entrenched here. Even after the irregular gaps between elections, the electorate simply knows what to do come polling time. The machines of public opinion promptly whir into action. For the wrong reasons maybe, but even all that can go away with frequent elections. Fourth, though we might complain, and rightly so, about corruption, we have far more transparency than those countries; our courts and our media, flawed as the two might be, can put rulers on the defensive. Even our military rulers cannot afford to be as brazen as those calling the shots in the middle-east.

Though it would not do us good to get complacent, we should be inspired by the fact that throughout our meandering path, we have never been let down by the hero of the story that is Pakistan: the political activist. May this gadfly continue to bother those in the corridors of power, forcing change onto the government, doing away with the necessity of revolutions, bloody or otherwise.