History of Soft Revolutions in Pakistan

Over the past few decades the collective wisdom of the masses in Pakistan has seemingly decided in favor of a soft change instead of a bloody and violent revolution. Though it is a slow process but is likely to have deeper and more sustained effect on the society. Despite the efforts of the forces of status quo to keep the social and political indolence in place, the catalysts of change are actively heading forward with a steady pace.
The First Soft Revolution came in the shape of Freedom of Media. Media, both print and electronic, had started its efforts to break the shackles of the state restrictions during the late 1990s. Interestingly it was during the reign of a military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharaf, that the media acquired its optimum freedom. Since then media has played a vital role in creating awareness in society, analyzing the political situation, exposing the social evils of corruption, lawlessness, favoritism, apathy of the government officials and molding the public opinion in favor of a progressive, peaceful and a just social system. Though the powerful political mafia, who wants to keep the masses ignorant, is all out to coerce, intimidate and pressurize the media to get them in their favor, the media is showing commendable resilience and steadfastness in achieving its objectives. With the passage of time media is likely to be more vibrant, impartial and effective in transforming the society in to a better shape.
The Second Soft Revolution occurred in the Restoration of Independent Judiciary. The incumbent Chief Justice of Pakistan, though one time a beneficiary of Gen Pervez Musharaf’s PCO and a supporter of his unconstitutional rule, asserted himself in 2006-07 by taking a pragmatic stand on issues like Steel Mill, missing persons and sugar scandal etc. His removal from the apex appointment of Chief Justice Supreme Court by Gen Pervez Musharaf led to a vigorous movement by the legal fraternity. Soon this movement swelled beyond proportions in which various political forces also joined. Their aim was to remove the President and restore the dysfunctional chief justice, who was then being seen as a symbol of independence of judiciary and justice at national level. The enforcement of emergency, suspension of constitution and arrest of judges by Gen Pervez Musharaf on 3 Nov 2007 proved as last nail in the coffin of his rule. Movement for restoration of judiciary became a popular national movement that ultimately achieved its objective when the dysfunctional chief justice along with his other companions was restored in March 2009.
Since its restoration the superior judiciary has, by and large, played its role effectively. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, a sitting government was dealt with according to law, whereby even Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had to go home for not obeying the Supreme Court orders. An independent judiciary is entirely a new phenomenon in social and political environment of Pakistan, where the powers-that-be are finding it difficult to come to terms with this change. This was the reason why a large number of court orders were never implemented by the government. Despite all the limitations and handicaps, the independent judiciary is coming up well. Like media, the judiciary is also not likely to forfeit its hard earned freedom in coming days. An impartial and independent judiciary is crucial to the sustainability of democracy and progress and prosperity of the country, and it is really a big achievement.
The Third Soft Revolution that is making its headway is the Electoral Reforms Process. Since democracy is the only acceptable political system in today’s world, the elections play a pivotal role in shaping the political and social structure of a country. If the electoral system is faulty, corrupt, tilted in favor of the people with nuisance values and does not provide a level field to all the contesters- as is the case in Pakistan for the past six decades- the result will be total chaos, confusion and destruction. Without reforming the electoral system the same breed of corrupt politicians will keep coming to power again and again and the country will not see any hope of progress.
Imran Khan of PTI was the first politician in the present times to kindle this ray of hope to the hapless people of Pakistan. He provided an opportunity to the people to elect an alternate leadership that would replace the custodians of present rotten system, who are occupying the citadels of power. Dr. Tahir ul Qadri of Minhaj ul Quran International provided further impetus to this movement by launching a long march and a sit-in in Islamabad in favor of electoral reforms. Though his efforts met vehement resistance from the forces of status quo, he has been able to make deep impression in the minds of people. The people now stand well educated about various provisions of the constitution and have better knowledge about their own rights and the obligations of those who are voted to power. There is a general craving in the public for conducting meaningful elections. They do not want to do this exercise just for the sake of it and as a ‘business as usual’. That is the reason that despite intense defiance from the ruling and opposition elite, the Election Commission and Supreme Court are being obliged to comply with the aspirations of the people. However this revolution is still in progress and will see its culmination, if the next elections are conducted after requisite reforms.
Akhtar Malik
14 March 2013


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