THE armchair critics need to finally concede that taking to the streets is not such a futile activity. Protests work, as recently seen in two divergent examples. In neighbouring India, the government finally succumbed to the mass and prolonged protests, and repealed a set of controversial farm laws. The other one took place on the Pakistani side of Punjab and ended with the success of the protesters.

Even though there was a stark difference in the orientation of the protesting groups — one, a class struggle, and the other having a religio-political context — the two movements underscored the fact that protests work. Political scientists, however, may draw their own conclusions. In India’s case, the protest exhibited that a strong society can push back a fascist regime. In the other case, it displayed the power a violent mass can have in the absence of a strong and united polity.

One government corrected its one wrong, while the other emboldened its one wrong.

Jam Asif Sahito
Hyderabad

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2021

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