Holding breath


Few decades back, a military dictator decided to move the Pakistan’s capital from the bustling city of Karachi to an isolated spot — Islamabad, a brand new city to-be-tailor made only for federal government, bureaucracy and superior judiciary and their employees. The main reason for such a move was said to be the frequent protest rallies, labour unrests, and street power with general public to influence the government functioning in Karachi. The idea was to have a posh city with no public life but a peaceful environment for government and bureaucracy to function. Since then Islamabad has also seen several protest rallies but of token nature as you can’t expect government officials to be on the streets for a showdown with the prevailing establishment.

However, whatever this city’s founders had dreamt of has been changed to a nightmare this August. The ongoing standoff on the Constitution Avenue is unprecedented wherein around twenty thousand people, mostly brought from Lahore, Peshawar and other cities, have seized the Red-Zone (which houses government buildings and foreign embassies) of the capital. Protests or sits-in may not be an issue for a political government to handle unless the ego-centric protest leaders come up with ‘do or die’ demands — ouster of government, dissolution of assemblies, scraping of state functionaries all together.

With the shifting of the capital to Islamabad, power-savvy army made sure that they are not too far from the central stage — it takes few minutes from the army HQ in Rawalpindi to reach the Prime Minister House in Islamabad. With self-praising, egoistic and unstable orators leading a charged protest and sit-in for the last two weeks, we have now reached at the dead end of the road to democracy. These orators are invariably inviting the army to intervene and take over the country, hoping to get a bigger piece of cake under army rule. It’s obvious that the army is not much interested as it’s already too stretched fighting Taliban in the tribal areas and suppressing a separatist insurgency in Balochistan. Sadly political forces are once again proving that they are unable to play unless a powerful umpire takes decisions on their behalf.

It’s a deadlock, only to be ended by politicians, not by unstable orators who can’t see beyond their nose. Pakistanis are holding their breath as the suspense drama unfolds further in the next 48 hours.


Jubail, Saudi Arabia