Does Azadi Marchi Contain all the Right Ingredients for a Successful Sit- in Movement?

Probably yes?

Clarence Darrow said that history repeats itself and that’s one of the things that’s wrong with history.   Since Pakistan has a history of sit- in movements, protests and agitations therefore history keeps repeating because some of the protests have been successful. However sit-n protests is still relatively new and one is definitely reminded of the famous 2014 sit-in protest by Tahir ul Qadari and PTI. It is obviously true that just like the former sit in movements the current Azadi March is intended to demand resignation from those in power.  However, the important question is why do leaders of political parties (opposition) get the opportunity of gathering large crowds for protests. Now it may be true that people get bored of watching television so organizing large demonstrations in Islamabad always turns out to be exciting and entertaining.  What can be more exciting than hundreds of protestors camping in the red zone?  However, the other side of the coin is that people really get frustrated for one reason or the other and follow those who give them hope. 

The sit- in protests in 2013-14 despite gaining tremendous attention domestically and internationally failed in over throwing the government. However, history is evident that some protests have been actually successful to topple the governments.  The famous PNA agitation in 1977 was indeed a contributing factor in toppling Z.A Bhutto’s government and paving way for General Zia ul Haq.

Similarly the long march led by Benazir Bhutto against then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif caused President Ghulam Ishaq Khan to dissolve the National Assembly. Consequently Sharif had to step down however the assembly was later restored. Likewise the long march in 1993 resulted in Kakar formula resultantly both Nawaz Sharif and Ghulam Ishaq Khan had to step down.  Considering the history of long marches and protests perhaps the governments should not underestimate Maulana’s Azadi March.

It is obviously true that the sit-in protests of 2013-14 despite not been entirely successful contributed tremendously in causing more economic burden. According to an estimate a whopping amount of 760 million was spent on the 2014 sit- in protest in Islamabad.  Moreover, the stock market had to suffer tremendous loss owing to this sit-in protest.  Likewise the current Azadi March will again be quite expensive as Maulana plans to provide the protestors three meals a day for Rs. 100 for a month.  According to an estimate this sit-in will cost millions of dollars further adding to the country’s economic pressure.  Who will actually bear the cost of this protest is yet to be known.  There is no denying the fact that traders, doctors and the leading opposition parties PLMN and PPP seem to be forging an alliance against the government. Circumstances suggest that PPP’s nationwide protest against the government will eventually metamorphose into Maulana’s Azadi March.  The fact that Fazal ur Rehman has inspected guard of honor from JUF workers who have already transformed into Maulana’s self- raised army should not be underestimated. 

According to political observers underestimating this proposed Azadi March by not opening a dialogue with the opposition is yet another folly by the government.  Issues like poor governance, not living up to promises and a troubled economy are some of the ingredients that can make this protest successful. Therefore the opposition leaders and Fazal ur Rehman are doing their best to take advantage of the situation.  It is obviously true that the present government has inherited an economic mess from their predecessors. However public support would have been sufficient for the government to face any opposition.  High inflation is surely the one ingredient which may cause resentment in low paid population to join the Azadi March.

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