The ‘Pakistan-Spring’

Spirit of Change wins in Pakistan



The historic election in Pakistan is historic not only because of this being Pakistan’s first transition between two democratically elected governments but also because of the absolutely inspiring wave of Change that has swept across the length and breadth of the country. Millions of Pakistanis – cutting across economic and sectarian divides – turned out in droves to vote. No Pakistani thought that he or she was too educated or too emancipated to queue up in front of a polling booth to exercise the sacred right to choose the new stewards of the country, a country neck-deep in corruption, debt and marred by endemic terrorism.
And to a great extent, the credit for the high voter turnout goes to Imran Khan and his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI). From a party that had a single seat in the country’s parliament in 2002, he has now successfully created a national party with close to thirty seats in a political setup that has traditionally been bi-partisan.
Some might argue that Imran Khan’s tsunami fell short of flooding the newly elected parliament. I would humbly, yet strongly disagree. I have been closely following Imran Khan’s political journey over the last two years – as the message of Change is universal and I also found it had great relevance in the political scenario that is emerging in Kashmir. The cynicism of the immune and isolated minority in Pakistan is not much different from the hypocritical cynicism of the elite minority in Kashmir. Both, directly or indirectly benefit from government apparatuses while proclaiming the system of electing those governments as something below their dignity. Pakistan is swarmed with corruption and poor governance – a nouveau-feudal political culture of exploitation by political families – and so is Kashmir. The problems are similar, and so I believe are the solutions.
Imran Khan energized millions of Pakistanis out of a mass indifference. There were people who flew in from the US and Britain for two days to cast their vote in Pakistan. The traditionally disillusioned and indifferent segments of the Pakistani society came out to either vote against the anti-incumbency of the PPP government or to vote for Imran Khan’s bugle call of ‘Change’. Tabdeeli evolved from being a slogan and became a movement that called the youth to empower themselves so that the nation and its polity would be empowered in turn.
And today, in a fortnight, Pakistan’s stature has grown drastically around the world. There is this subtle yet cathartic power in democratic Change that commands respect from the most powerful nations in the world. After all, a people who take the affairs of their State seriously, are a people who will be hard to coerce, bully or disenfranchise – literally and metaphorically. The US is engaged with Pakistan in a war that has had enormous ramifications for Pakistan. And if early reactions to Pakistani elections from the United States are any indicators, the tone and tenor of messages from US to Pakistan has changed dramatically.
Pakistan after these elections is more capable of fighting terrorism and internal strife than the Pakistan before these elections. This is both because of the psychological as well as systemic empowerment that the country has seen after more than a decade. Pakistan’s engagement with India on some very contentious issues will now be more progressive and goal-oriented because a popular democracy has this almost organic semblance of being reconciliatory and cooperative.
There are good tidings for Kashmir as well. No part of the sub-continent is half as much dependent on Indo-Pak peace and stability as is Kashmir. This again has both psychological and diplomatic reasons. Kashmiris expect relations between India and Pakistan to improve so that the confidence building measures that run through Kashmir become fruitful for the people of Kashmir. Till now, that hasn’t quite happened.
I also believe that the people of Kashmir, especially its educated youth, should derive inspiration from Pakistan and how its youth chose empowerment over political chaos and exploitation. In a State where election-boycotts mean that unpopular and stale faces remain glued to vital positions of governance, the need for an empowered revolution is crucial and critical. Kashmir, for almost six-decades, has been directly or indirectly ruled by two political families that have made empires and personal fortunes by looting and plundering the State’s natural resources and money received from Delhi for development. Both families have used economic persecution as an effective tool for political blackmail and manipulation. Both families have eroded the State’s political and economic standing through incompetent and pliant leadership, corrosive policies, bad laws and crony capitalism.   
While congratulations are in order for the people of Pakistan – introspection is in order for the people of Kashmir. Allow a minority to impose politicians on a majority and you will have a big mess – socially, economically, politically and externally. Delhi will not respect an elected government in J&K unless and until the majority elects it. The State won’t come out the present state of economic stagnation till the time Change sweeps the garbage out of the State Assembly. In around a year, Kashmiris will have to decide if they want a new Kashmir – one of hope and opportunities – or if they want another six years of living-room criticism. The choice is theirs. And so are they repercussions.
(Junaid Azim Mattu is the Spokesman of J&K Peoples’ Conference)  

Lastupdate on : Fri, 17 May 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 17 May 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 18 May 2013 00:00:00 IST

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