Humain Revolution Chahiye
The night before the Azadi March, a girl in her early twenties at Imran Khan’s camp is being interviewed by a news channel. Below is an approximate exchange.
Reporter: Why are you here?
Girl: Ham Inqilaab Laeein gay. We will bring a revolution.
Reporter: How are you going to do that?
Girl: Look, until we get out on the streets there can be no revolution.
Reporter: Yes, but what are you trying to achieve.
Girl: We want a revolution
Reporter sighs, “Yes but what are your goals?”
“Umm… people are hungry.” [pause]
“People have no food” [pause]
“And yes there is no bijli (power), so…”
“Until we get out on the streets there can be no revolution”
The reporter looks back sheepishly at the camera. He spots a little girl of about 6.
“Hello little girl, who brought you here”
With a finger in her mouth, She shies away from the camera and pulls at the kameez of her sister/guardian. Her sister is just as clueless. Her mouth hangs in a wide toothy grin. “We want a revolution,” she says shyly.
I think you may well have guessed what I’m getting at, “What is this revolution that we need so badly, yet are pretty clueless about?” Why is it that we set out on a long march every few years looking for this elusive beast, all fluffy with pride and bursting at the seams with heroic discourse. Then we find ourselves at the destination, thoroughly depleted by the journey, deflated of all our valiant intent, scratching our heads at some long obscure disappointing speech, we disperse back to our homes without oomph.
As you may have guessed, I’m going to use our helpful friend wiki here, which says A revolution (from the Latin revolutio, “a turn around”) is a fundamental change in power ororganizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time. Their results include major changes in culture, economy and socio-political institutions.
When TahirulQadri or Imran Khan shout revolution, on this side of the TV screen we sit back, already jaded, exchange drawing room politics and watch the show. Because we already believe there will be no change. Because we saw the hordes of aimless supporters with their mouths hanging agape, coming to life under the camera’s eye and showing off new dance moves. Because we already said nothing would come of this, we are half hoping nothing will so we can tweet about it copiously. Maybe in Pakistan revolution is dead and a new social device is in order.
Historically, the motivation behind revolution is economic deprivation or the rise of an oppressed class against an entrenched elite. One of the most important examples of this that have shaped the world today was the French revolution. In 18th century France, pervasive economic mismanagement and resentment of the nobility’s wealth resulted in widespread revolutionary excitement. People began talking about enlightenment ideals: It was the first time that ideas, science, and reason pushed the development of a new organization for society. The first time a public moved away from “tradition, because tradition is good,” and subjected everything to independent reasoning. There was an overwhelming motivation for change and there was a banner steadfastly shared by the public.
Now the question is, are we yet desperate enough to get up off our lazy backsides for revolution? Going back to the clueless girl at camp, most of Imran Khan’s supporters have trouble talking about what it is they want. They are riled up and ready to stampede 370 kilometers but they don’t exactly have a banner, an article of faith. Just as they have been collected, they can as easily disperse. We have seen Imran Khan trying desperately to keep them engaged, with a new kind of rallying, with songs and entertainment, and promises of fun. He still has their attention. He needs a bloody brilliant, unexpected move. So Imran Khan delivers to them the unexpected call for an action he promises will liberate them. Civil disobedience till the Prime Minister resigns (And poof, deflates the balloon).
In response to Imran Khan’s call for Civil Disobedience, Minister for Interior, Chaudhary Nisar says wisely “This is not a banana republic”. And perhaps this is precisely the reason for our stop-gap deal-making, which prevents a revolutionary outcome. Although, yes, there seems to be a plutocracy, and an impoverished peasantry, but there are a whole dynamic range of upwardly mobile social classes in between. Imran Khan’s public comprises this same dynamic range. Suffering from a general despondency about the direction the country is headed, there is however still a small sphere of opportunity around each of us, which is keeping us somewhat satiated. We do have something to lose, so we can’t put everything at stake. At the beginning of a long march to revolution, it is only logical that something meaningful will happen if the revolutionaries are committed to a very clear drastic outcome. Right now, the only person who seems to know what this is, is Imran Khan himself.
But the media is abuzz. There is an endgame, and till the two-day ultimatum is up, Imran Khan is still relevant.