Hope seems to be in the air everywhere. Trump lost the election, Modi is trailing behind his opponents in the polls from the Bihar election, the Chileans did away with the unjust Pinochet era constitution, the German AfD has lost a significant amount of its support after Merkel’s adept handling of the pandemic, Nigerians have risen up against police brutality with the #EndSARS movement and Polish women have managed to halt the implementation of an abortion ban. It appears that globally people are starting to push back against autocrats, violence and far-right populism. This whisper of hope can now be heard in Pakistan too. With anti-establishment politics taking centre stage the people of Pakistan seem to be itching to join this nascent wave of liberation.
Previously, in Pakistan those who spoke against the establishment did so at great personal cost, many activists and journalists who dared to call out the crimes of the establishment were forcefully disappeared, never to be seen again. Yet, now the people seem to be speaking out more than over.
Just recently the Haqooq-e-Khalq movement held a march in Lahore, where MNA Mohsin Dawar addressed the crowd and surprisingly he wasn’t arrested or the organisers charged with sedition. When Dawar spoke about enforced disappearances at the Student Solidarity March last year he himself was temporarily disappeared by the powers that be, and the organisers were charged with sedition. Both disgusting tactics to suppress the voice of the people and any criticism of the State. Now however, all that happened was a tiny counter-rally in support of the establishment at the same time as Dawar’s address. This is an uncharacteristically meek response from the government and the establishment, which points to a declining climate of fear. The worsening economic situation combined with the opposition’s, new, anti-establishment politics has created a situation where the people of Pakistan are ready to cast off the tethers of fear and demand their due.
Previously, in Pakistan those who spoke against the establishment did so at great personal cost, many activists and journalists who dared to call out the crimes of the establishment were forcefully disappeared, never to be seen again. Yet, now the people seem to be speaking out more than over. This is more than just anti-establishment slogans at the opposition’s rallies. Ordinary people are now standing up to the establishment because they realise who has brought them to this point in time where they have no security of any kind, be it financial or otherwise. Take, for example, a recent incident where army officers were captured on video hiding in their car after apparently failing to extort locals in Narowal. People surrounded their car and filmed them, stating that they had fired upon one of them who was injured after they refused to pay the army officers, the individual filming the video also states that they tried and failed to get any media coverage of this incident as the journalists they contacted said they cannot risk covering this. Still, it was ordinary people themselves who stood up against those trying to oppress them. All this is still in its embryonic stage. The establishment has not seceded power and people are still being disappeared, but there is pushback now. Both from mainstream politicians and the general public. Hopefully, in time this movement will grow and come to fruition.