A sort of Orange revolution

Daily: Pakistan Observer
Date: 25.02.08

Give us the tools and we will finish the job – Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

People cast the votes and finished the job. February 18 has made its impact: the tables
were turned on the powers that be. A phase spanning almost a decade is over; after having
touched the pinnacle of the all-in-one arc, now the nadir of the same bow has arrived. The
exit door is ahead.

Silence was the essence of this revolution. Silence was imposed on the judiciary, the
lawyers, the media, and the civil society. All have now spoken in one voice: enough is
enough. It is the will of the people that will prevail on the instruments of state coercion. One
voice can be heard loud: March 9 was the damning day and November 3 was the black day.
Two main opposition parties, PML-N and PPPP, are one and together – adversity makes
strange bedfellow. That is how democracy makes inroads. In a way, silence has backfired.
The oppressive hands of the state are broken into pieces. Democracy has taken its
revenge. Benazir Bhutto’s words come true.

Just a couple of days ago, the self-professed highest chair of the country ridiculed the
opinion polls and warned the West through the daily The Independent of the UK not to
underestimate the power of the PML-Q, an extension of the presidency. Now,
overestimation in that edict has itself been evaporated leaving the reality existing
underneath bear and exposed. Main pillars of the PML-Q, need not to name, are down and
out. Never before has Pakistan witnessed such ouster. It was a loud anti-establishment
voice reverberating round the country. Certainly, February 18 declared the decisions made
on March 9 and November 3 null and void, perhaps, with immediate effect.

Quintessentially, it is a revolution. An appropriate caption should be bestowed on it, even if
the names like Orange, Rose, Tulip, and Velvet Revolutions seem redundant or in oddity.
Nevertheless, fervour was the same. The undercurrent zeal was similar: the true voice of
the people should be heard, should be heard and should be heard. What otherwise is the
ingredient of a revolution? Of course, it is people’s unanimous conclusion even if it seemed
unpredictable to few.

After fall of the PML-Q, known as King’s Party, it is a logical turn of the 58-2b to go; it is the
Article referred by Richard Baucher of the US that it could be used by the President of
Pakistan to dissolve the next Parliament if the pre-November 3 judiciary were restored.
Denying 58-2b to the president is like emasculating the king. Through 58-2b Pakistan
would be back to the dark ages of 90s when parliaments used to be dissolved under one
pretext or another. Unfortunately, the cushion of an independent judiciary has been
removed. An independent judiciary could act as a bulwark against unfair dissolution. A
subservient judiciary cannot serve the purpose; it would rather acquiesce in to the verdict
of the presidency, the office that makes or mars it.

Through their unanimous vote, the people have made the President’s ‘scum of the earth’
the man worthy to be respected instead. The votes the PML-N has garnered are mostly in
the name of restoration of the pre-November 3 judiciary. The deposed and detained Chief
Justice of the country has attained a status unprecedented in the post-independence
history of the country. He has been denied opportunity to defend his position. Any remark
against him is not to diminish his stature but to raise it above the Himalayas. His struggle for
the rule of law and constitutional supremacy has been recognized and acclaimed in the
world as well.

The elections have proven that given the chance the people of Pakistan speak out their
mind. Any person who asserts that democracy is not fit for the Pakistanis needs to read the
history of Pakistan again. The then illiterate and backward Muslims of the Subcontinent
rallied around Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and urged him to carve out a
way to find a separate homeland. Jinnah selected the path of constitutionalism and
democracy for his followers. Together they got Pakistan after just seven years of sincere
effort. It is a pity if someone says that Pakistan is yet not ripe for a true form of democracy,
a system of government guaranteeing fundamental rights of the citizens. That person
himself is misfit in the system is what the implied message in the results of election 2008.

The president has himself acknowledged that his issuance of the National Reconciliation
Ordinance was to divide the opposition and secure his own place in the comfort of the
presidency. Under the force of offering a level playing field, the president had to allow
Nawaz Sharif to come back, though Nawaz was disallowed to take part in the elections. The
‘Nawaz Factor’ has now routed out the PML-Q in Punjab. Hence, the PML-Q is very right in
its ongoing effort to distance itself from the presidency. Nonetheless, damage has been
done. The PML-Q has been left high and dry in the political arena. Even the intact local
government system could not rescue it from biting the dust at the hands of the PML-N. Nor
did loyalty to the presidency serve any purpose. The cost of slogans ‘the PML-Q would
make the president elected several times’ is being paid by it. Further, had the PML-Q
stalwarts taken a stance on the Red Mosque issue (to avert any raid), they might have
been honoured today. They lost opportunity to be people’s leader. Instead, they remained
loyal followers of the presidency. Now, crying over spilt milk can serve no purpose.

Above all, the president has said that he is ready to work with any party which constitutes
government in the centre. It is an altogether a different point whether any party is ready to
work with him or not. All the silent revolutions are in favour of ‘not.’

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