Pakistan: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

What will happen of the revolution if you switch off your TV?

It is happening first time in history of Pakistan that a sitting Punjabi Prime Minister is facing a movement from within Punjab. It is a movement by Punjab to sake a prime minister elected from Punjab. Before this, Punjab either used to rise against prime ministers elected from Sindh or Punjabi prime ministers faced movements against them chiefly from Sindh. But the story of this struggle is different. We may agree or disagree with the objectives, results and prospects of the current movement of Tahir ul Qadri and Imran Khan against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif these days, but we’ll have to agree on the fact that this is very strange development given the political traditions of Pakistan and especially Punjab.

So, then, how are we going to interpret this new development? Is Sindh no more capable to play the decisive role in mainstream politics? Is it no more a game changer? Or should we assume that this is just because Punjab has woken up from its epochs-long sleep?

Another facet to the story is, that usually movements rising from Punjab have frequently shown pro-establishment and anti-democratic stance throughout history of Pakistan. If, for a while, we put aside the ethnic identity of Pakistani prime ministers, we’ll know that the movements of Punjab either against PM ZAB in 1970’s, Benazir Bhutto in 1990’s or against Nawaz Sharif in 2014, have tried their best to sabotage and hamper the democratic process in Pakistan, but have stood silent during nearly all the struggles to restore democracy in Pakistan during dictatorships. Take, for example, the MRD movement of 1980’s in Sindh during Dictator Gen. Zia’s regime, which saw no support from Punjab. Even when Gen. Zia’s tanks trampled whole villages and towns in Sindh in MRD, Punjab managed to stay silent.

But then, during Lawyer’s movement in Gen. Musharraf regime, Punjab showed its iron muscles to the dictator. Initially, the movement had roots in Punjab’s civil bureaucracy, which shared popular discontent to thence military bureaucracy. The masses flocked into the movement and it gave tough time to Dictator Gen. Musharaf. So, are we still right when we say Punjab’s movements have mostly been anti-democratic? Yes, we are still right. The lawyer’s movement against Gen. (R) Musharraf was not solely for restoration of democracy, but for restoration of judges. Analysts, including me, are of the view that Lawyer’s movement against Gen. Musharraf can best be defined as Punjab’s frustration of staying away from rule for so long. Before Musharraf, Punjab had hardly been put away from ruling the country for so long! Thus, you saw Lawyer’s movement, which in its essence, was a struggle of power between civil bureaucracy and military bureaucracy of Musharraf times.

Despite this whole analysis, which needs a discussion at length, in this anarchic outbreak of information overload from TV and internet on this movement; it is very hard to stay with a single analysis of it. Yet, I am stuck on a thing from many days. And what is that?

Since the movement has started and 24/7 TV channels have been covering it live, I have not been able to get out of my mind an all time magnificent maxim of Hugo Chavez, the Venezuela’s late president. Chavez too, faced nerve pulling criticism and opposition from right wing media of the country and corporate media of the West on his revolutionary reforms. Once, responding to such criticism in a BBC documentary, he remarked, “The Revolution Will Not be Televised.”

During the 24/7 live coverage of the “revolutionary” events in Islamabad on TV these days, I have come to know the actual worth of this Chavista aphorism. Yes, the real revolution will not be televised. It has never been. But have you given second thought to what these ‘revolutionary’ leaders in Islamabad are saying and doing these days? They seem very hungry of TV coverage, rather are dependant solely on it. The day in and day out, whatever they are doing carry the purpose of earning more and more live coverage on TV. After seeing their die hard efforts to televise their ‘revolutions’ on TV, I have come to conclusion that they seem more like corporate thugs selling their ‘revolutionary’ brands in political market. These both leaders, Imran and Tahir Ul Qadri, whose supporters are in some thousands, pose as if whole country were with them. Despite their hard efforts, they could not manage to gather 1 million people in Islamabad as they claimed earlier. The way they televise their revolutions, is more similar to those tradesmen who give nicely formatted presentations to corporate mafias to sell their stuff. Now think of this scenario: There are no more rolling cameras and reporters running after these leaders in Islamabad 24/7; there are no more remote controlled flying cameras and there is no live coverage of this ‘revolution’ to the level where they show you coughing, sneezing, dancing, urinating, eating, drinking, sleeping and wow! also asking you ‘how are you feeling today?’ live on TV, what will become of this revolution then, sire!? It will die, sooner than later. The remix of dance, sermons and long speeches are all telecasted. TV channels, in pursuit to beat each other in a mad competition, want to show every detail of what is happening in Islamabad. Cameras are put on since it has started. People sitting before their TV sets in Pakistan, have forgotten everything else in order to see what new ‘developments’ are! Not every time are there any developments, most of time they are under-developments. This revolution, which is being televised now in Pakistan, has no real roots. You may call it an ‘item song’ in a typical Bollywood movie, which is taken just for fun. No more serious stuff.

So you might be thinking now, what is the serious stuff then? The serious stuff needs no 24/7 live coverage on TV channels and photos in newspapers. My whole point is, a real revolution does not DEPEND solely on media coverage and is NOT televised. There have been revolutions in world before the invention of Radio, even before the invention of Printing Press. From Spartacus to Paris Commune, there have been revolutions which changed the entire course of world history. Can you compare those revolutions with this our Pakistani-24/7-live-televised-revolution? At least I cannot. Apart from the discussion that Imran Khan and Tahir Ul Qadri will succeed in sacking Nawaz Government or not, all I am asking is: Think of these revolutions minus TV. In other words, what will happen of this revolution if you switch off your TV? You’ll know that it is no more!

One Response

  1. Imran Khan weds Reham Khan and PTI gets future leader..

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