Political activism in Pakistan

My generation will probably be known by its political environment and its role in it. Whether you go for dinner at a swanky restaurant on Lahore’s MM Alam road or indulge in some “I’m going back to my roots” activity by drinking (read: wetting lips only) chai at your local dhaba; host a simple dinner at your fancy mansion or decide to dance away the blues at some posh country club; inevitably, the conversation(s) turn to politics and what is wrong with the country.

With all these conversations and analyses taking places one would be forgiven for thinking how no one ever comes up with any solutions. But in reality, there are an abundance of suggestions and solutions but there are too many dinner parties to attend to actually put any physical effort in. A few of the major types of political activists are:

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The Aspiring Democrat

They desperately want, strive for and demand a democracy but have never actually voted or even registered. Many won’t even know who their local representative is. As was the case in 2008 when we had 81 million voters out of a country of more than 170 million. They are also one of those ‘grass is always greener on the other side’ kinds of people. And when we actually do have a democratically elected government (or as democratic as it can get in Pakistan) and the tint begins to wear off their rose coloured glasses, they’re often the first ones to comment ‘yaar insay to behtr fauj hi thi!’

Must… get… to… other… side… better there

For them the word democracy is little more than a fashionable label that is in vogue. They’re also apt to be most vocal about their opinions and will, more often than not, ‘win’ their arguments by virtue of being the loudest. Maybe someone needs to break it to them that democracy is about letting the other person have their say as well?

They adore being viewed as the “politically aware” generation but are best described as being “poli-ticks”.

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The Revolutionary

Especially after the Arab Spring, as the media dubbed it, the youth in our country went berserk. There were innumerable calls for revolution and to topple the corrupt establishment. As is apparent none of those calls were really effective. They’ve seen one too many movies and the romanticised version of a revolution strikes a melodramatic chord with them. Little do they realise that after the dust has settled and the bloodlust sated, begins the tiring and gruelling rebuilding. As Egypt is finding out. It isn’t merely a matter of getting the tyrant to leave; it’s the ability to do something productive once he’s gone.

And wearing a shirt with Che’s face doesn’t cut it.

And the one thing that most revolutionaries forget, whenever they quote the Iranian or Egyptian example, is that those places rose up as a nation. We’re so divided as a people, along religious and ethnic lines that unless a leader were to guide us by the nose it’d be hard to envision a revolution in Pakistan. They want a historical revolution whose glory will echo through the ages but the idea of a policeman chasing them is enough to make them piss in their designer pants.

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The Perpetual Opposers

They’re never happy… we’re looking at you Zaid Hamid. No matter what happens they HAVE to be opposed to it. American drones bombing villages in our north, they’re unhappy. The religious extremists bombing our offices in Punjab, they’re unhappy. A Justin Beiber cameo on CSI… and still unhappy!! What more do they want?

Will nothing satisfy you? Not even ‘the Beibs?’

And don’t tell me this is America’s war that our leaders have imported, because dealing with the Taliban and extremism is very much a Pakistani problem. It was only a matter of time till they infiltrated our society (more so than they have now) and declare us part of their revived Ummah. The one that was to stretch from Afghanistan, through Pakistan and all the way to Tajikistan.

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The Facebook Activists

Speeches upon speeches will be made about how one needs to be more politically active but the only form of activism the speechmaker themselves will indulge in is by pressing “Attending” on a Facebook invite to anything remotely political. Or the much vaunted ‘like’ button, but only if it’s suitably revolutionary enough.

It’s the classic case of ‘jo garajtey hain wo barastey nahin’. They’re rambunctious and loud and ready to take the bull by the horns… as long as it doesn’t involve them getting out of their bean bag and tearing themselves away from all those important updates they have to post.

Political activism on Facebook makes them feel like they’ve fulfilled their patriotic duty allowing them to continue stalking their ex’s guilt free.

At least it keeps them off the streets.

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Tags: ,

Categories: The World I Know

Author:Mehr F Husain

Mehr F Husain was Features Editor of The Friday Times. She lives out of a suitcase.

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2 Comments on “Political activism in Pakistan”

  1. SULTAN
    July 29, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    Very precise. I second the previous comment, Great article!

  2. rumina
    July 29, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    so true…great article

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