Who suffers for politicians’ inequities?

  • What will the Maulana’s march achieve?


What exactly is an ‘Azadi March’, which Maulana F plans to organize on 31 October at D-Chowk in Islamabad? Until today the march was meant to be held on the 27th, but it has been rescheduled, leaving the 27th free to express solidarity with Occupied Kashmir with other parties. Finding himself forced to change the dates, the Maulana has justified it by saying it gives more time for people to arrive at the venue.

The Maulana’s expressed purpose for the Azadi march is to express his disapproval against the present government and turf it out, for which he has cited Articles 16 and 17, segments of the Constitution that deal with Freedom of Assembly and Association respectively.

It is an almost amusing example of the way words and ideas are used by politicians to their benefit. Quoting the Constitution of course is supposed to give legitimacy to the march. The common man does not understand such things, but knows that the ‘manshoor’ is something important. So, Constitution quoted.

The maulana per se in all his regalia is of course meant to appeal to the public. A man of God, regardless of the fact that he had connections with the Taliban who are grossly un-Islamic. He is also a man who says he would like to impose Sharia law, and retain the monstrous blasphemy law in Pakistan, but of course those are further examples of catchwords in this country. According to right-wing thought both the Taliban and the blasphemy law are supposed to be sanctioned by Islam. As for the Sharia law, God only knows what that is, since no two individuals are likely to agree on the others’ version. What’s more, since right-wing alliances preclude liberal support, the Maulana has also allied himself with various secular parties–0 ‘liberal’ and ‘secular’, such debauched words in the public arena.

What is the Maulana’s march supposed to achieve? He would like to oust the present government. Why? Because he says the elections that brought in the PTI were rigged.

At the end of such rallies, it is those who conducted it who should be slapped with the bill. And what’s more, they ought to be made to pay. Why should the poor people suffer for their politicians’ inequities?

Really the exercise is because the Maulana has been trying very hard for a long time to become the PM himself.

What will the march achieve? Well, what did the previous such march achieve?

In 2014 the PTI organized another Azadi march, also called the Tsunami March. Its demands then were much the same as the Maulana’s demands now, to get rid of the sitting government, which the PTI accused of rigging the elections.

The rally started in Lahore and went on to Gujranwala, Kharian, and arrived two days later at Zero Point in Islamabad. Protesters were also stationed outside the Supreme court of the country, and it was said that judges were trapped inside.

Meantime Imran Khan took up his position outside Parliament Building and said he would wait for Nawaz Sharif’s resignation there, and then go on to the PM’s house. In short, ‘kick him out, and bring me in.’

On that march, several people were injured, and in the protests in the capital city itself more than 500 people were injured.

The Chief of Army Staff was called in to mediate, although this was a civilian political crisis, not war. How constitutional was that?

And this is what happened in Islamabad alone. Protests also took place in other cities.

All these politicians claim to support democracy, although no democracy supports the forcible removal by violent means of a sitting government.

Schools were closed in 2014, as were government offices, and the police was accommodated in the schools.

According to one estimate the country lost around Rs 800 million as a result of the disruption caused by those marches. According to another the losses were much more than that at about Rs 610 billion. What was our annual expenditure the previous fiscal year– about Rs 475 billion?

Points that appear to have bypassed our leaders is that people are injured when such protests occur and sometimes lives are lost.

The economy is badly hit when businesses do not open and much more often are unable to open. No country can afford such losses. Pakistan– you wonder if they know it– is a poor country and cannot afford such things.

The way towards success is to pull the nation together, not to create dissension.

The way to get a sitting government out is to fight it in an election. All such ‘Azadi’ marches are likely to shake off in the long run is democracy, and democracy, however fragile it may be, is important.

If an election is seen as rigged, it is the election commission that should be examined, and its shortcomings addressed.

The Constitution does guarantee right of assembly. It is up to the leaders themselves therefore to show some maturity and consideration for the people they wish to lead. Sadly, they, none of them, appear to possess either maturity or consideration.

At the end of such rallies, it is those who conducted it who should be slapped with the bill. And what’s more, they ought to be made to pay. Why should the poor people suffer for their politicians’ inequities?