The last few months have been a roller-coaster ride for all of us in Pakistan, with many events unfolding simultaneously in an ever-tumultuous political landscape of the country. With the then joint opposition tabling a no-confidence resolution against the ex-premier Imran Khan, resulting in his historic ouster from power, to the latter crying foul, and leading countrywide protests over an alleged US conspiracy, citizens found themselves being dragged into a fight with little to no stakes.
The mainstream news channels scrambled to serve with their round-the-clock coverage of the sole matter of public interest while social media platforms turned into virtual war zones. The masses got politically charged, but for all the wrong reasons, and mistook the situation for having something to do with democracy or worse, ‘their will’. It was a sore sight to see Imran Khan and company appropriating revolutionary songs and slogans, but what bugged me more was my comrades celebrating his demise, and the means that were employed to achieve that. Many from the Left joined in the chorus, hailing the success of the no-confidence move as a momentous win of democracy and constitution. The center-right has a history of misusing democracy for their ends, but my fellow leftists could have done better.
It is clear as day to anyone having a keen eye on internal politics, that the ‘boys’ who introduced Imran in the first place as the savior, decided it was time to send him back, packing. A bit off for a ‘democratic win’, huh?
I am no fan of IK and his brand of fascist politics but the ruling coalition’s tall claims of reviving democracy are nothing but a farce. It is clear as day to anyone having a keen eye on internal politics, that the ‘boys’ who introduced him in the first place as the savior, decided it was time to send him packing. A bit off for a ‘democratic win’, huh? The same parties that had been at loggerheads for years, huddled together in a surprising show of unity, to impose the ‘will of the people. Little surprise though, that nothing much has changed for the people after the so-called win of democracy. Things are back to business as usual. The current ministers, who had been raising quite a hue and cry over the surging inflation when in opposition, have now shifted to the IMF- speak while educating public about the ill effects of fuel subsidies. Did anyone tell the hapless people that constitutional wins don’t translate to their living conditions improving?
Some are rejoicing, for they believe, rather naively, that the new rulers at least acknowledge the myriad human rights abuses in the peripheral areas of the country and have appreciated progressive voices like Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar. I am not convinced, though. Bilawal’s photoshoot with Dawar or Wazir would not turn him into a human rights champion all of sudden, nor would it tail off PPP’s criminal silence over Nazim Jokhio’s murder. Similarly, the other self-proclaimed torchbearers of democracy, the N-leaguers, have no qualms about CPEC’s implications for the people of Balochistan, as long as FDI keeps rolling in. Their previous record doesn’t lend much hope either. As for their newfound love for radical voices, it would help taking a look at the Exit Control List which still contains Mohsin Dawar’s name. They are not calling the shots here.
A democratic win does not look like this; true democracy does not come with strings attached nor is it conditional. Being presented with two equally bad choices is not democracy. If democracy is rule by the people, for the people, and from the people, then how did we wind up with this establishment-sponsored, hybrid mockery? We are fed the same illusions time and again where only a few get to play ‘ruler-ruler’.
The only true representatives of the working class are themselves. It is not only Imran that needed to go, but this decrepit system of elite politics that does not leave any room for grass root, working-class parties to come forward. It is high time for the Left to realize that they need to create a separate place for themselves among the people – providing them with an alternative and truly empowering political narrative – and not get consumed by such mummeries.