The people’s power

August 19, 2022

“It is better to change an opinion than to persist in a wrong one.” – Socrates People have been variously perceived, understood and treated. They are praised and they are...

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“It is better to change an opinion than to persist in a wrong one.” – Socrates People have been variously perceived, understood and treated. They are praised and they are condemned. They are eulogized and deprecated. They are celebrated and mourned. They are the objects of veneration and victims of hate. Their achievements are contained in the confines of victories and defeats, but they are seldom evaluated in the context of the indomitable spirit that they exhibit attaining some stipulated targets or falling short.

History is replete with narratives uplifting the glories achieved by people in countless spheres in the most superlative manner, but the role that the human spirit plays in this is usually overlooked. The transformational nature of human ascendency and the shaping of its destiny are always made possible by the display and exercise of impregnable human spirit that, faced with grave challenges, remains resolute in its commitment to an edifying cause. It is also that, at times, when it is perceived as dead and buried that it resurges with unbelievable passion, lifting the battle to a new level.

People are not mere commodities that they can be reckoned with in one preconceived way or another, or asked to move in one direction or another. They may do so for a while but, in the long run, their inbuilt consciousness would enlighten them about better options that they have to attain their ideals.

For much too long, the people of Pakistan have been treated as brainless individuals who could be nudged in a predetermined manner depending on how deep their economic and social enslavement is at the hands of individuals, cartels or mafias. And, for much too long, they thought that they needed such support to move forward – nay survive. No wonder they have served despots and fake democrats without much protest and have even glorified their captors whose crimes they successfully clouded in catchy slogans without any meaning and substance. One thought that this would forever be the relationship between the rulers and the ruled with the former remaining the all-powerful oligarchs and the latter mere subjects wagging their tails at the commands hurled at them.

For some time now, I have had this pleasant feeling that all this may be changing. A resurgent spirit of the people has been on display for a number of months now and, in spite of adversarial circumstances and some inhuman and brutal methods employed by the criminal ruling clique to break it, the spirit has further blossomed and is now also wearing the apparel of defiance. The person who has garnered this is none other than Imran Khan – the one his detractors thought was history when they had him removed from the office of the prime minister of the country through a foreign-instigated and -inspired conspiracy that was perpetrated by local agents and collaborators.

The story of his unbelievable ascendency is reflected in the resurgence of the spirit of the people of Pakistan which is aptly epitomised by the most recent rally organized in Lahore. Despite stifling heat and humidity and a hard ground to stand on which made things literally unbearable, a massive and charged gathering of people stayed till the very end well after midnight in an incomparably disciplined and orderly manner listening to and assimilating every word their leader spoke. I have never seen anything even remotely like this before in the political history of Pakistan. This is a new normal that Khan has fashioned – and it is instilling fear in the hearts of those who have been empowered to deal with it by the shadows hovering in the dark.

There are two questions which crop up: why has it come to this pass and, with an incredibly large number of people with boundless energy and passion joining the revolution, where is this taking us? These questions may look separate, but they are interlinked as the cause of the former has provided the stock for the latter. In other words, people are protesting at the injustice done to a leader who was working with sincerity and devotion for the betterment of the country and its people, but he was removed to hand over the charge to a bunch of convicts, criminals and absconders – a feat which was achieved through forging and perpetrating a well-coordinated conspiracy with foreign and local actors playing equally dubious roles.

Where the conspirators and their miserly agents went wrong was in underestimating the courage and substance of the leader they were dealing with. It is when the challenge is really daunting that we see the best of Khan. That is exactly what happened which a cabal of criminals is now trying to deal with by taking recourse to draconian methods that the fascist regime has at its disposal.

This is where, in addition to an abysmally poor judgement, the character of the conspirators is also coming forth. Instead of acknowledging their blunder and backing off by announcing fresh elections and ensuring their free, fair and transparent conduct, they are still busy trying to wash their filth away, buried in waves of false propaganda unleashed from the special cell operating from the prime minister’s house, spearheaded by their anointed agents and saboteurs while the masterminds sit elsewhere viewing the developments from behind dark curtains, and with darkened faces.

Pakistan stands at the crossroads of history again. On one side are arrayed the forces of usurpation which uprooted a democratic and constitutional government by using all the Machiavellian tricks they could lay their hands on and on the other side are the unarmed charges of Imran Khan who believe that a grievous wrong has been done to the country and their future and they are out there determined to undo it. They have an ascendant spirit and boundless passion as their weapons to confront one of history’s most criminal and brutal outfits. And they are winning, setting insurmountable marks with every outing they have into the political arena. Their resurgence is unchallengeable.

Socrates’ quote above advocates changing an opinion rather than persisting with it even if it were found to be wrong is possibly the best advice that could be given to the perpetrators of the conspiracy who are now stuck with handling its massive fallout. If it is allowed to linger any longer, it may generate an environment of chaos and anarchy in the country which could cause incalculable damage. Since such massive people power is on full and vibrant display and the ongoing revolution is gaining further momentum and strength, it may well be time to heed the good old advice by Socrates.

The writer is a political and security strategist and the founder of the Regional Peace Institute in Islamabad. He tweets RaoofHasan



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