Full article at Random Thoughts
Professions of peace on the part of those who sponsor mass movements may be sincere. Our experience shows that when people in large numbers come out on the streets they will not remain content with chanting endearing slogans. Orators will use their way with words, highs and lows of voice and body language to arouse them and call them to action. They will then set private cars and buses on fire, break windows and plunder stores, clash with the police, kill and get killed.
Supporters of the present government brand Nawaz Sharif’s protest movement as the politics of confrontation that is liable to strain the country’s fragile democracy beyond endurance. This is specious reasoning. People protesting on the streets are a part of the democratic tradition. They are a needed warning to rulers that they cannot get away with arbitrariness and usurpation of the citizen’s fundamental rights.
There are times when it is beyond the government’s capability to meet the protesters’ demand. That is not the case in Pakistan at this time. Reinstatement of Iftikhar Chaudhry, the deposed chief justice of Pakistan, along with the related issue of judicial independence, is the principal objective of the lawyers’ movement and their intended long march. The same objective informs the PML-N’s plan for a protest movement. Mr Nawaz Sharif says he will call off his movement if Justice Chaudhry is reinstated.It is thus open to Mr Zardari’s government to reinstate the gentleman, send the protesters home and return our city streets to peace and tranquillity. It is possible that Mr Zardari’s personal pride and stubbornness are keeping his government from making this simple move to resolve the current crisis. If that is indeed the case, it is an awful shame that this government has chosen to keep the country in turmoil merely to appease a single individual’s ego, even if he be the president of Pakistan.
The writer, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, is a visiting professor at the Lahore School of Economics.
Monday, March 9, 2009
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