Chaos, uncertainty, political turmoil and instability are some of the words my ears have become accustomed to in the recent past for obvious reasons. I can’t evade them even if I so desire. I believe we as Pakistanis have been hearing them since forever which is why they don’t affect us anymore and have profoundly lost their significance. All of us feel the same, yet we can’t muster enough courage to come out in the open and say it. We, therefore, succumb to every unfortunate event that besets us. Those of us who do rise to the occasion do so in an utterly wrong manner.
Any mishap in the political, social or economic arena has its repercussions. Disqualification of Sharif Brothers by the Supreme Court of Pakistan was no different. Although the decision did come as a surprise—though not so pleasant, but what followed was even more vexing not only for the government ofPakistanbut also for the perplexed populace. More than a year has passed since the general elections that restored democracy in the country. I look around in bewilderment and wonder what has changed! The answer comes to me instantly, confirming my worst fears. Nothing has changed or probably some things have—only for the worse.Pakistanstill stands where it stood a year ago.
Let me not sway from the point that I am trying to put forth here. The decision regarding the ineligibility of Sharif Brothers to hold public office triggered riots and protests across the country thus further aggravating the wavering law and order situation. The ensuing intense wave of resentment spread like wildfire all across the country thoughPunjabremained the focal point. This gave birth to a whole new wave of instability in the country. Rallies broke out all across the cities. Strikes were observed by Nawaz League supporters to protest against the Supreme Court decision. This was not the first time such unruly reaction was observed. I do not blame the supporters of Nawaz League who demonstrated their undying support for their party. They had every reason to vent their fury but this could have been done in a more decent and organized way. Setting public property on fire and burning tyres is way beyond my comprehension. Rallies can be conducted in a more peaceful manner which does not hinder the routine activities of the civilians. Apart from certain parts ofPunjab, federal capitalIslamabadand the twin cityRawalpindiwitnessed worst reactions from the masses. Many incidents were observed where roads and highways were completely blocked and people had difficulty in commuting between the twin cities. As a consequence, all the educational institutions and few offices remained closed for the following days to ensure safety of the people.
It is interesting to note that while these people are demonstrating against the government, they are at the same time setting their own homeland on fire. Such actions can bring no good to our country. To many of us the word “protest” means a violent act of fury and agitation. Regrettably, we associate it with burning tyres, destroying signboards, damaging vehicles etc. It is high time we appreciated that burning a tyre has serious implications for the already polluted environment inPakistan. Hundreds and thousands of tyres are burned only to add to the already dismal environment. Such hostile act is strictly prohibited in a number of other countries. Thus it is time to realize that demonstrations and protests can be carried out in a more organized and peaceful manner. Such kind of behavior is not observed anywhere in the world save a few countries.
I would not like to play the blame game as it is being played every so often in our country. I want to restrict my opinion here to what implications does this aforementioned phenomenon hold forPakistan; both at the national and international level?
Such disorganized activities pose a big threat for the businesses in the country. Prolonged strikes are observed in the country following any unfavorable announcements which continue for an indefinite period of time. The fuming mob forces shopkeepers to close their businesses. Hence the business activities are momentarily paralyzed. The situation acts as an alarming bell for the trade industry and more importantly the economy of the country. The Karachi Stock Exchange was the biggest victim and fell by 300 points thus shattering investors’ confidence yet again. Many believe that such strikes and violent activities divert the attention of the government and it indulges itself in restoring peace and harmony and the process of economic growth is derailed. Thus doom and gloom pervades the trade industry which was fast moving towards recovery. The business community is fraught with dismay at the moment. Only a heavenly act or a miracle can come to its rescue.
Furthermore, nobody wants to invest in a country where such violent protests are being observed. It holds true for a country likePakistanwhere such strikes and political instabilities are a permanent resident. As a result of the protests and riots, many countries feel that their civilians are not safe inPakistanand due to the same reason, the governments of theUnited States of Americaand theUnited Kingdomwarned their civilians not to travel toPakistanunnecessarily. This is the height of distrust that we have earned at the international level. Substantial amount of foreign investment has poured in the country during this decade but if the present scenario persists, this is going to dwindle. The murky image that is projected at the international level is highly foreboding. It presentsPakistanas a country with no political stability—which is true—and having no sense of control. Media plays a significant role in doing so but when asked they argue that they are just doing their job—which is again true.
Thus the present state of affairs is a looming question mark for the present government which has moved past its infancy. Many believe that the future of democracy is at stake because they see no proper administration in place. I am not averse to observing strikes because freedom of speech is our foremost right and more importantly, because we as citizens of this god forsaken country deserve better than what our leaders have to offer us, but these protests should be held and conducted in an orderly manner as is done in the West. The least the government can do is to try and prevent such hostile acts which do nothing but act as a fuel in deterioratingPakistan’s image at the national and international level. Such acts of violence leave deep-rooted imprints in the minds of the people and thus should be avoided. As Pakistanis, we can try in our own domain to put an end to such wicked activities which serve no purpose. Together we can makePakistana better place to live in.