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Ignoring history


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THE slogan is eerily similar. Tahirul Qadri’s refrain to save the state, not politics, is reminiscent of the one raised during Gen Ziaul Haq’s time, “pehle ehtesaab, phir intikhab”, which was used to delay a democratic change of government for over a decade. The context today may be different, but the political rhetoric is familiar. As the Qadri-MQM team asks the army to support its long march — and not to follow orders from a sitting government to prevent it — it is rightly raising fears about military intervention just as the country was preparing itself to vote out one government and vote in the next for the very first time. Despite the bitter lessons of Pakistan’s history, there are some who still seem to be clinging to the notion, despite their pro-people language, that this country’s citizens are not worthy of democracy.

What is most alarming is that the real agenda of Dr Qadri’s movement remains unclear, hidden behind claims that are self-contradictory and illogical. Why suggest a Tahrir Square-like revolution for a country that, far from being under one man’s dictatorship for 30 years, has finally managed to pull off a full democratic term? Why build such a movement on a one-point agenda of “electoral reform” — and what exactly does this consist of — when an independent chief election commissioner has been appointed and can be appealed to without drama and talk of revolution? Why the need to push for the immediate installation of a caretaker set-up when that is less than three months away? Why initially hint at postponing elections and then deny that was the intent? Why claim to be in favour of democracy while asking for the army not to follow the orders of an elected government? All that is clear is that behind this is an agenda — whether fully thought-out or not — that is not being revealed.

There is an entirely different path Dr Qadri could take. With the ability to draw large crowds that he has demonstrated at his rallies, the right thing to do would be to contest elections to prove widespread support for his cause and then work to improve the system from within. The same applies to the MQM, a party that has contested polls and come into power on the strength of public support but is choosing to go along with those with an unclear but worrying agenda. There is no doubt that Pakistan’s democracy is not just imperfect but flawed, built on nepotism, corruption and entrenched power rather than true representation of the people. But only letting the system continue, not interrupting it repeatedly, will allow it to improve.

Comments (8) Closed

M. S. Alvi Jan 03, 2013 03:41pm
I agree that the democratic system should be allowed to establish, but how long this experiment can be allowed to continue. With time, the system seems to be deteriorating, rather than improving. There has to be some correction in the present course immediately. Musharraf's period had brought some relief to people; you should bring that period back by bringing him, or somebody like him back. Do not waste time with the present corrupt pack.
israr Jan 04, 2013 02:00am
After several bad experiences with these hidden forces people are now mature enough to smell what is being cooked.Dr qadri can not fool this waking nation more.
Asad Jan 04, 2013 03:22am
Qadri is the Today's Quaid !!
AAS Jan 03, 2013 04:58pm
Please Dr. Qadri, the people of Pakistan are already too much disturbed exhausted, so please let them live in peace and tranquility.
samar Jan 03, 2013 03:16pm
How long we have to wait to see a successful democracy in Pakistan ? Khak ho jaingay hum (Pak) tum ko khabar honay tak.
ali asghar Jan 03, 2013 03:13pm
Congratulations the Dawn! It is an excellent editorial. I endorse every bit of it. I wish the Dawn continues to write this kind of editorial.
Iftikhar Jan 03, 2013 04:14am
Agreed absolutely with the arguments in the editorial. Let the system, howsoever flawed, continue and develop a natural rhythm. With time, it will improve.
Iftikhar Husain Jan 03, 2013 12:39pm
Agree with the contents of the editorial elections are must at all cost.