Pakistan Protests: An Onion Theatre

In Pakistan, democracy is the momentary lull between military rule in its many forms. Pakistan has had 29 prime ministers since 1947, none of whom completed a full five-year term. On 18 occasions, prime ministers have been removed under a variety of circumstances, including assassination, corruption charges, direct military coups and forced resignations due to infighting in governing groups. Such political failures have led to severe consequences for the living population of Pakistan, which has led to despotism. The rising economic crisis and financial leverage are pushing the country towards turmoil.

Pakistan’s present political situation is tumultuous as deposed PM Imran Khan conducts his long march from Lahore to Islamabad. Several major incidents pertaining to this latest “long march” have shaken the roots of democracy and administration. A female journalist, Sadaf Naeem, attending former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s long march died on October 30 after being crushed under his container, according to Pakistan’s media reports. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that he was deeply saddened by the death of the reporter. Furthermore, during an anti-government protest march in the Wazirabad district of the Punjab province on November 3, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was shot at and suffered a shin bone injury in an attempted assassination.

Although the 70-year-old head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party escaped the attack and is currently safe, the event drew stern criticism from foreign leaders as well as Pakistani officials. Malala Yousafzai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, agreed, and said that “violence is never a legitimate protest.” Attacks on political figures or political parties are always incorrect, she declared. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wished the former leader of Pakistan a swift recovery and stated, “The attack on Imran Khan and his supporters is utterly wrong, and I strongly condemn this violence. It has no place in our culture, in politics, or in democracy. I’m hoping Imran and everyone else who was hurt today has a swift recovery.”

Such incidents leave an intangible and long-lasting impact on the country’s image and its economic progression. Such acts of violence and obduracy are highly condemnable. The 2022 Pakistan Economic Crisis is an ongoing economic crisis in Pakistan that has resulted in significant economic difficulties for months, driving up the cost of food, gas, and oil. As a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine and record-high inflation, the nation now faces even more energy-related issues. In Pakistan, inflation increased to 21.3% in June, the highest level since December 2008, when it was 23.3%. Parallel to such economic instability, such incidents under the garb of protests directly impact the general population. As a direct consequence of the floods, the national poverty rate is projected to increase by 3.7-4% points, pushing an additional 8.4-9.1 million people into poverty.

Historically speaking, the protests and “long march” has become a norm of Pakistani political society. The Shia community marched against then-president General Zia-ul Haq on July 4, 1980, in response to the imposition of the Zakat and Ushr Ordinance. This was the first protest to be referred to as a “march.” Pakistan has experienced numerous protracted marches since that time, some of which have stained the nation’s history while others have waved the flag of reform. Currently, ex-PM Imran Khan plans to use the long march to rally opposition to a resolution of no-confidence that would remove him from power in April. He has claimed that Pakistan’s opposition parties at the time conspired with the US to depose him. He has since held public demonstrations to call for early elections, which are not scheduled to take place until late 2023.

By probing into the facts on the table, we can infer that the upshot of such a cataclysm will be that instead of a generalissimo, it will be a junta that controls the country. But keeping such political power struggle aside, the general population of Pakistan will have nightmares in the coming future. The increased poverty rate, rising deaths due to Covid, floods and various diseases pertaining to floods will hamper the long-term survival of the population. With incessantly decreasing foreign reserves, the nation is in dire need of a financial backbone, keeping in mind the humongous food shortages the nation will be facing due to floods in the foreseeable future.




Vishwas Grover
Follow me
Latest posts by Vishwas Grover (see all)