A Pakistani Spring? Think Again.


Is it me or is there an increase in the number of angry, furious-with-everything-in-the-world bloggers lately? Throughout the blogosphere, these raging Romeos profess their love for Pakistan thoroughly, before diving into their odd calls for a “Pakistani Spring.”

The term refers to the “Arab Spring” – a wave of demonstrations that have transformed the Arab world this year. Massive outpourings of anger and frustration with the status quo have resulted in uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, and smaller scale protests in Algeria, Jordan, Oman, and Morocco. Brutal dictators have been dethroned after decades of oppressive rule. People continue to voice their opinion and push for democratic reforms. It truly is a watershed moment for the Arab world.

Of course now, the world is watching to see what sort of governments replace the oppressive regime – will there be democracy, theocracy or any of the possibilities in between? The hope is the power of the people is represented in a sustainable democratic system, but to be fair that will not be readily set. It will take years and a lot of restructuring before true democracy can take root amidst internal debates and discussions.

Democracy does not happen overnight.

It certainly did not happen overnight in Pakistan. New Pakistan readers do not need a re-hashing of all our history of army and dictator rule, or the memories of martial law. It is a harsh fact that a democratically elected government has never successfully completed its term. President Zardari’s administration seems poised to accomplish just that, which is something pro-democracy voices should all be quite happy about.

But yet! There is an increased cacophony calling for the toppling of the government, calling for youth to come out and revolt, calling for us to join in on the Arab Spring action and… okay, does your head hurt yet? People in the countries listed above are now going to have to build up institutions. We already HAVE institutions. We have the office of the President, Prime Minister, a number of Ministries, a National Assembly. We have the executive, legislative and judicial branches, each with its own catalog of powers and jurisdiction. Our challenge is to solve Pakistan’s challenges within this framework – social, economic and political matters can all be dealt with and find progress in the existing configuration.

The angry, hateful people who post mildly threatening statements on the blogs, facebook or twitter probably don’t realize they advocate anarchy. What are they even advocating? They do not care to engage in thoughtful discussions and debates about policy or on-the-ground realities, let alone offer solutions.

The success of our democracy depends on our civic participation. Being part of it is key.

Should a “Pakistani Spring,” happen, will not be the anarchic mayhem some call for, but instead will be the name bestowed on a much-needed civic awakening. This is where the youth of Pakistan can have a key role…and that is why the rage of so many young people is so unsettling.