As an ordinary citizen you cannot think of giving an ultimatum to a Government, that too a democratically elected civilian one. It can be the order of the day for some nations if their Army gives the ruling politicians final word on how business should be run.
But, never can that order be brought by any common citizen. If
that happens, then that citizen cannot be considered as an ordinary
one. It happened in India and now it is the turn of Pakistan. If it was Anna for India, for
Pakistan, it comes in the bearded form of Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri,
a Canada based Sufi Cleric.
The political developments as well as stories linked with terrorism in our neighbouring country have always remained an enigma from my childhood days. The political leadership, trying to keep its power by doing a balancing act between the army and terrorists, mostly remained indecisive on matters of bilateral importance.
The leaders who took courage to think otherwise were shown the door or thrown away by a military coup. Except relaxation of some visa norms, releasing some fishermen, talks for increase in trade and playing cricket matches nothing concrete emerged from the devoted follow up of the minutes of bilateral talks.
The prevailing scenario by the Supreme Court judgement to arrest the Prime Minister has pushed our neighbour to a new political crisis too. Already beleaguered by corruption, severe energy crisis and terrorist attacks, Pakistan now seems to ride on a wave of hope for a desperately needed change.
Barring the recent political development, the condition was more or less similar in India where the time and again tested democracy in its own pace failed to address common man's aspirations and to tackle the issue of corruption. People - rural or urban, rich or poor, old or young - the real Aam Aadmi - all united under the umbrella of Anna when the voice for change was echoed in the name of Lokpal.
Already tired of experiencing the political drama since Independence, what the people wanted were not promises alone. With the rising graph of corruption at one end and the rising cost of living, Aam Aadmi's ups and downs in his expense budget and tribulations to make both ends meet hardly got noticed when the stock market ups and downs got prominence.
But who will raise the voice? Everybody is there to follow but not to lead. Yes, there was a need for that one extraordinary citizen to take the lead and trigger the wave. Anna was his name and rest is history. The Government could come down from its audacity of supremacy and could well extend a hand to carry forward the talks.
As the polls are due in March, Qadri's timing is absolutely irresistible to the Pakistani public even though his supporters don't seem to possess a clear roadmap as to how to put "true democracy" on track. Similar to Anna, he is also an outsider in the political system and wants a system to be put in place to probe integrity of candidates as well as ousting criminals from politics. Within a month after returning from Canada with the slogan 'Cleanse the System', Qadri is now triggering a political crisis in Pakistan.
But Qadri seems to have the support of Army and is more belligerent than Anna. Otherwise, such an ultimatum of giving the government time till Wednesday night (16th Jan) to quit and dissolve the national and provincial assemblies to pave the way for electoral reforms cannot emanate from him. This is irrespective of the fact that he was described in Mar 2012 by the CNN-IBN as the 'International Peace Ambassador'.
While Anna has openly denied contesting any elections and wielding any political power, Qadri till now also has not conveyed looking for political power for himself. His methodology is harnessing the reformist power of a faith based reform movement. Most Pakistanis are okay with the Sufi thought and do not support radical Sunni Islam that has dominated the country's discourse in the last few decades. Even though he brings in a twist to the convoluted tale of Pakistani politics, the circumstances prevailing truly point him out as their emerging Anna.
(SR Vasudev is a Citizen Journalist. The views expressed in this article are those of the author.)