Revolution in Pakistan

Maj. Agha H. Amin has written a wonderful post on the recent buzz about revolution in Pakistan. You may not agree with all of it but it makes some pretty good points. I am reproducing it in full below without any comments.

Lately an idea that Pakistan is on the brink of a revolution been floated by some politicians.
While politicians make statements as a habit , anything predicting revolution needs to be supported by a clear sense of history,a detailed study of the anatomy of a revolution and a deep study of history , done with fanatical and utmost devotion to the idea of reading history for historys sake.

A revolution is not a dinner party as someone said ! It is not a political rally but a grand and traumatic event of history which occurs rarely and when it does destroys the vast bulk of a country both morally and materially.

It is worth examining how and why revolutions have succeeded :–

1-The French Revolution , whose success had a great deal to do with the Paris mob.Note that many countries in Europe had far greater poverty than France.It was the series of diasastorous wars of France , high political awareness and above all the ruthless and troublesome mob that made the French Revolution a success.In Pakistan we have no Islamabad or Rawalpindi mob , anywhere near the Paris mob ! That is why Pakistans elite shifted the capital to Punjab in late 1950s ! In Asia we have a parallel in Iran in shape of the Bazaar mob identified by political analysts.

2-A major condition of revolution is that it takes place in a countrys political heartland.In this case Pakistans political heartland is the tract in between Lahore-Islamabad-Faisalabad-Sahiwal.The Punjabis politically have been traditionally placid and categoried as lotus eaters in pre partition India.They are emotional at personal level but politically difficult to stir or manipulate.In 1977 I met a Pathan brigadier , who later became a generL .He was disgusted that while 300 killings in Karachi by security forces no affect on the army , a mere two killed in Anarkali severely affected the military with some three brigadiers resigning and many majors and colonels following suit ! In the present case the Punjabi heartland defined above is unaffected.Even the floods have affected only the Seraiki belt in Pakistan or the Sindhis and Baloch ! There was a reason why the capital was shifted from Karachi to Islamabad in 1958.The fact remains that the political heartland of Pakistan is still the beneficiary of resources and the peculiar agro-industrial system of Pakistan .The planned procession from Lahore to Islamabad to restore the chief justice thus succeeded because it was a Punjabi affair in the political heartland .Nawaz Sharif although a Kashmiri did succeed in galvanizing the politically inert Punjabis ! Even the Chief Justice Iftikhar although he had supporters Pakistan wide was restored in the final analysis because he belonged to Pakistans political heartland and had supporters there !

3-Defeat in war is one great cause of revolution.Revolutions took place in countries defeated in long bloody wars like Russia in 1917 , Germany in 1918 (although this one failed) and Turkey in 1919-23.This happens because the miltary the principal coercive weapon of the elite loses its coercive value or mutinies and joins the revolutionaries.In Pakistan this condition is still distant.The military is intact and retains its coercive value and respect albeit devalued in the masses in at least the majority Punjab and parts of NWFP , Sindh and Pashtun districts of Balochistan.

4-Extreme repression as in Iran in shape of long monarchy and ruthless agencies like SAVAK.This is not the case in Pakistan either.

5-Long drawn civil war spread over two to three decades as happened in China in 1911-49.This too is still an initial stage in Pakistan although it is the closest parallel keeping in view the internal wars in Balochistan and FATA/NWFP and many parts of Punjab and Sindh.

6-The most important pre -requisite of a revolution is a main stream political group that sees revolution as a political startegy or a select group of fanatics who sees revolution or a violent coup meant to carry out a ruthless revolution as a modus operandi.Pakistans mainstream political parties consist of landlords and industrialists and businessmen and do not fall in this category.MQM is a regional party and Tehreek i Insaaf lacks that fanatical zeal and organisation.The closest parallel here are the Islamic extremists but their success also seems a decade or half a decade away.
6-A progressive revolution spearheaded by the military and particularly the younger or mid level element.Not impossible but at least five to ten years away and that too if the army goes through a viloent conventional or a protracted civil war.

Seen in this context the pakistani revolution seems a far cry !

More likely in case of Pakistan would be anarchy and a slow slide into Balkanisation , if Pakistan continues its non state proxy wars sponsored by state elements in its neighbouring countries.

Pakistans salvation lies in better organisation and reform rather than a revolution ! A revolution ina ll probability will break Pakistan into pieces because it is a multi ethnic country.

In the end ethnicity matters ! The Muslims of Delhi and Punjab were saved by English East India Company from Afghans and Marathas in 1803 and 1849.The Bengali Muslims from Pakistan Army by the Indian Army in 1971 ! It would be no surprise if the Indian Army carries out another rescue mission in the future , if the Pakistani state continues to be stupid and Machiavellian in dealing with Balochistan and FATA.

As one with a military background I can state that the Pakistani military regards the MQM and Altaf as an Indian proxy , although both the impressions I think are fallacious ! But so was Mujib regarded in 1971 , although he wanted Bengali rights usurped by West Pakistanis from 1947 till 1988.

As they say only good things happen with the bad and bad things happen with the good !

Thus revolution in Pakistan is a utopian and unrealistic hope !


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