Tuesday November 30, 2021

Signs of a storm?

October 19, 2021

There are some indications that the country may be looking ahead to more unrest and more agitation, some of it possibly spilling out onto the streets. With inflation continuing to rise, and the cost of petrol, electricity and other items creating huge concerns amongst almost all the people, both the two major opposition groups, the PPP and the PDM have said they will be staging protests against what is happening and the failure of the government to control a price hike, which has now reached gargantuan proportions. The PDM's Maulana Fazlur Rahman has said that street protests will begin immediately after Eid Milad-un-Nabi (pbuh) which is being celebrated today, and that the group is determined to take the matter further in the interest of the people. The PPP too has strongly criticised the government and accused it of using state institutions as its personal force. The PPP has also asked why it is being victimised while the PTI leaders whose names appear on the Pandora list have not been touched. The PPP says it will stage its own protests. And at the same time, we have bar councils and other smaller organisations and civil society movements in the country also threatening to take to the streets against the hike in prices and the simple inability of people to manage, especially with warnings coming in from experts that we will be facing a winter without gas and with electricity bills too high to pay. The government too should be asking itself how people are expected to heat their homes, cook their food, or keep themselves warm.

The problem here is that the government is caught up in problems which build no confidence amongst people. These include the talks with the IMF, which have halted at various points, the issue of the appointment of the DG ISI and other matters which seem to leave us with a crippled government. There is so much confusion regarding the recent developments that all kinds of rumours and conspiracies have taken birth.

But we cannot say if the ripples that are being seen will build into a storm. In the past too similar ripples have flashed across the country, but then fizzled out. The opposition, now divided after initially standing together, seems unable to manage a proper movement, despite the vast anger that exists amongst people, given the food price inflation and the increase in costs of fuel and other basic items. One wonders that if this cannot be used by major opposition parties to build up a movement, what issue will persuade them to bring people out on the streets. It is somewhat of a mystery why the opposition has been making so many mistakes in building momentum. Perhaps the coming days will bring answers. Perhaps the storm will easily fizzle out like the small activity we have witnessed in the past.