Dr Mubashir Hasan thinks it can. “I would urge you to consider that to induct radical reforms, power is the primary factor,” the 91-year-old former PPP stalwart tells a columnist of an English daily. “By power, I mean physical power, brute power, military power, awami power.”
Does he really believe that by “seizing state power and handing over state power to the peoples’ democratic bodies at every level of hierarchy such as federation, province, district, etc”. Will work? I ask the man in whose house the Pakistan People’s Party was born.
Mubashar Hasan: Yes, I do believe that a change of the present ruling classes of Pakistan, which I call a radical change, is possible by non-violent means. The present ruling classes of Pakistan are civil and military bureaucracy, its supporters comprising traders, industrialists, landed aristocracy, parasitic politicos, media barons and our international patrons. They have never been as weak as they are today. The state apparatus of Pakistan has collapsed and so has the machinery of administration and services. Lawlessness over the land proves that the state exists only in name.
Question: Do you seriously think that the revolution you call for will be a ‘non violent’ movement? Calling for a ‘revolution’ is a messy affair with legal pitfalls. It can cause mischief among the powers-that-be who can haul you up for sedition, treachery or treason. A person can be charged with ‘illegal action inciting resistance to lawful authority and tending to cause the disruption or overthrow of the government’. Do you want newspaper owners and their writers to go to jail?
MH: I did not use the word ‘revolution’. It is your insertion and I am afraid you scare the readers. The change I speak about is nothing to be afraid of.
No, it need not at all be “messy”. Violence is rarely started by protestors, more often the state is the initiator. For those who resist for a just cause, jail is not an unfamiliar place. Pakistan may not even have the required jail capacity. Going to jail of “newspaper owners and their writers” shall surely help wash away some of their past sins.
We should take serious note of the non-violent protests during the last four years, culminating in the dharna of January 14-17, lead by Dr Qadri. Each one of them was a success. The Quetta dharna resulted in the dismissal of the Balochistan government and the Islamabad one resulted in surrender and humiliation of the state in a spectacular fashion.
Question: The letter to your columnist friend states: (His) “learned articles for the last quarter of a century have not moved the powers that were or are, to act.” Even if the columnist were to plant the seeds of revolution in his columns, would he get printed? Is the media independent? If your answer is in the negative, how can you expect columnists, better known as ‘pen-pushers’ to mobilise public opinion that calls for revolution?
MH: If no one prints the columnist, or me, or many others like us, we should build our own media. Most media houses are not independent because they choose not to be. They have other interests more dear to them than the interest of the people. The “pen pushers” who write against their conscience are hypocrites and opportunists.
Question: How many owners of TV channels and their anchorpersons, better equipped to shape public opinion than columnists/journalists, are independent?
MH: I repeat, they choose not to be.
Question: The Arab Spring was mainly due to the social media. Which columnist/ journalist or the so-called ‘intellectual’ in Pakistan can mobilise a group that can relay the message to a larger segment of society? This requires time, energy and money. Who among us will jump into this venture?
MH: Phenomena like the Arab Spring takes long to mature. The social media might be one of the triggering causes. You are right when you say columnists/journalists can get likeminded people into a group that can relay the message to a larger segment of society. Time should be of no consideration. A decade or two is not a long time for the poor and downtrodden. They have passed centuries in this state. Once mobilisation gets started, the poor are very generous. There will be no shortage of moral and financial support.
Question: You contend that the educated elite have done the greatest harm by keeping away from such organisational efforts.
Why do you think they have not played a proactive part? How can they be motivated?
MH: I do not know. I have not met with any success for the last 30 years or so. Nor do I see any significant number striving towards that end.
Question: Apart from blaming the ‘educated elite’ for not acting, who in your view has let the country down — the Army, Judiciary, Opposition or the captains of Industry? What became of the NRO?
MH: The Army, Judiciary, Opposition or the captains of Industry, along with others are a part of the ruling elite with identical vested interests? But they have not let the country down. My friend, they are the country. Materially, they have done very well for themselves. That they find themselves in difficulty these days is another matter, another subject. As for the NRO: Allow me to quote Islamabad Bureau chief of the Hindu, Nirupama Subramaniam’s report four days after the NRO judgment in 2009: “For Mubashir Hasan — anti-NRO petitioner and a former Bhutto aide — the struggle for a just Pakistan is not over yet.”
Question: What would you tell the British High Commissioner in Islamabad who told the media that Pakistan government has failed to deliver? Don’t you find it ironical that his predecessor Mark Lyall Grant and the US ambassador together were the ‘midwives’ of the NRO between Benazir and Musharraf? The two powers treat Pakistan as a banana republic. Do you agree?
MH: I would tell the British High Commissioner “It is none of your business.” Period. In the former banana republics of Central and South America, the American multinational United Fruit had vast investments and the US government was at its back with armed might. In Pakistan, Britain and the United States achieved what they did by winning the loyalty of the rulers by bribing them.
What legacy will Dr Mubashir Hasan leave to the coming generations? Will it be about a man with a burning passion to make Pakistan an egalitarian state as entombed in the PPP manifesto? Or will history bypass him as an old warhorse with failed dreams, left in the lurch by the Bhutto’s daughter and her husband? Or will Hasan’s socialist outpourings be like the epic poet Shelly who too spoke of revolutionising the English class system but in the words of Matthew Arnold was an “ineffectual angel, beating in the void his luminous wings in vain’?