Al Jazeera takes an in-depth look at why Pakistan has not political upheaval that has rocked the Middle East since January.
Like Egypt and Tunisia (and Syria and Yemen and Jordan et al.), Pakistan is plagued by high inflation, high unemployment and a youthful, disenfranchised public. So why haven’t protesters flooded the streets of Islamabad? Even the release of CIA contractor Raymond Davis failed to mobilize any mass demonstrations.
That’s because in Pakistan, there is no one to overthrow.
The political landscape in the country is fundamentally different from that of the Arab states where uprisings are currently occurring, because while protesters in Tripoli, Sanaa, Manama, Cairo, Tunis and other cities were calling for dictators to be overthrown and free and fair elections to be held, Pakistan has no ‘regime’, and already holds elections.
“Why would you need an uprising against [Pakistani President] Asif Zardari when you know 24 months from now that he’s going to get chucked out? Who do you revolt against?” asks [Pakistani columnist Cyril] Almeida.
Pakistani political analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi adds that the country’s fledgling electoral democracy has led to a fragmented civic society, making any mass movement for change unlikely:
“[The political parties] are good at engaging in polemics, they are good at criticising, but none has been able to present a formula or a framework for addressing socioeconomic problems,” he says, pointing to the example of the issue of terrorism, on which political parties “make ambiguous statements and avoid taking a categorical position against particular groups”…
“The thing I would repeat is my fear that increasingly the Pakistani state system is on a very fast downward slide. If it is not collapsing, it is losing its capacity to function effectively.”
With another military coup unlikely, given that the memory of a Pakistan under Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf that was not doing much better is still fresh in most Pakistanis’ minds, and the likelihood of substantive political change from within the existing system being limited, at least in the short term, what appears most likely is that Pakistan will, as it has for so many years now, blunder on.”
So for now, it looks like Pakistan will continue to teeter on the edge of collapse, always just one economic/social/political crisis away from failure.
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