111 510 510 libonline@riphah.edu.pk Contact

Resurrecting the human soul

Starting in Lahore, the freedom march would be on its way to Islamabad on the day this piece appears in the paper, to reach there on November 4. The importance of this march can be easily gauged from the fact that its fate is likely to greatly impact the future of Pakistan.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Imran Khan said that “the march was not politics, but an attempt to set the direction of the country”. He vowed to remain peaceful but feared that there may be disruption from the other side”. Despite his peaceful intentions, he said, he was prepared for arrest as well: “My bag is ready”.

The sole demand that has triggered the march is holding of free and fair elections at an early date so that a government enjoying genuine confidence and mandate of the people could be instituted to take the country forward.

It must be conceded that the march will have consequences for both sides. While its success may imperil the future of some political dynasties which have held a vice-like stranglehold over the country for decades, it can also propel a long-overdue movement towards shaping some substantive and meaningful change for the state and its people. On the other hand, its failure will seriously dent the claim of an overwhelming support of the people for Khan and his reform agenda for the country.

There are various factors which have precipitated the need for holding this march. In spite of having to tackle some unprecedented challenges not confined to Covid-19 alone, the PTI government had succeeded in putting the country on an upward economic trajectory by the end of its third year in power. Thereafter, it was expected that the pace of development would accelerate further and reform initiatives to improve governance wedded inextricably with provision of social benefits for the impoverished communities would usher in a new phase in the fate of the country.

A reshaping of Pakistan’s foreign policy was also envisaged to correct a historical wrong which the country’s original policymakers had been guilty of. It was primarily focussed on improving its relations with the regional countries and asserting its right to independence in formulating policies that would suit its national interests and stakes.

This rather radical shift in approach was unacceptable to forces we had sworn allegiance to, and which have traditionally held sway over our policy formulation mechanisms in exchange for transactional relations which kept oscillating with time depending upon the need or otherwise of the US. This betrothal had been solemnized early after Pakistan gained its independence and, with time, it only became more lopsided. Effectively, we were reduced to being a client state and being content with morsels thrown our way or suffering the tyranny of sanctions as and when deemed necessary to exert unseemly pressure on us to do their bidding.

So, a decision was taken to remove Khan to take the country back to its servile days. One Donald Lu fired the salvo during his meeting with the Pakistan ambassador in the US that all would be forgiven if Khan were removed through a no-confidence vote, but if not, there would be consequences.

Rather than stand up to this unwarranted and interventionist pressure by strengthening Khan’s hands, there were domestic forces which, for reasons undisclosed, also did not agree with the shift in foreign policy. They took it upon themselves to not only frustrate the move, but also sabotage it in line with the threat emanating from abroad. Through a series of engagements, a group of PTI back-benchers were purchased and government allies were ordered away.

The ground was smoothened for a vote of no-confidence to be pushed through. In place of the ousted government, a conglomerate of convicts, criminals and absconders was inducted to run the country with the sole purpose of having themselves exonerated from a host of cases pertaining to illicit crimes worth billions which had been pending against them. They have since moved with alacrity to incorporate self-serving amendments in laws and procedures to facilitate their cleansing from the muck they were immersed in. In the process, the core message that has been transmitted is that corruption is of little consequence and a person who is gravely inflicted with the malady remains eligible and safe to be entrusted with the keys of the national exchequer.

More than anything else, this march is about changing this mindset, rewriting the distinction between right and wrong and establishing equality before law across divisions – for the rich and powerful as also for the impoverished and the enfeebled. No one should remain outside the ambit of the constitution and the laws which flow from it.

It is an uphill task. It is one man arrayed against the entire ruling elite who have the federal power to make use of. And they did it with utter brutality the last time they had a chance. Since then, they have been subjecting individuals, including elected representatives and senators, to shameless custodial torture. Even now, statements are being incessantly issued by the interior minister to shower fire and inflict misery upon the protesters.

In the last six months, through a series of public engagements, Khan has driven fear out of the minds of the people. They come across as a different bunch now, laden with the desire to instill meaning and passion into this movement. They are also determined to see it through to its cherished destination – no matter what the obstacles sprayed along the way. They are brimming with confidence and charged with zeal. No destination is far away and no route is difficult to traverse.

Despite the daunting odds, it is a fight worth waging a million times over, if there be a need for doing so. The country is fully entrenched in the stranglehold of crime and corruption and it is in an unstoppable downward spiral. Ethics, morality, principles – every respect-worthy trait is pinned up for a pound of flesh. It is as if the human soul is on sale. It is as if human dignity and self-respect have no relevance in this Judas-driven environment. It is like moths eating away the vitals of the state. This has to be eliminated. This must go.

It is a peaceful revolution to retrieve Pakistan from the pit of haemorrhaging. It is a march for resurrecting the human soul. It is an earnest effort for restoring human dignity and freedom. It is a laudatory cause worth fighting for, irrespective of the odds.

Raoof Hasan, "Resurrecting the human soul," The News. 2022-10-28.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Foreign policy , Political dynasties , Corruption , Crimes , Imran Khan , Donald Lu , United States , PTI