Go Nawaz Go by Abdul Q Kundi

People around the world are frustrated with status quo. These frustrations produced social movements that challenged and demanded the status quo to change. In USA there was conservative Tea Party movement while on the liberal side people gathered in major state capitals starting from Wall Street in New York as Occupy Wall Street movement. In India we saw Anna Hazare protesting in front of Lok Sabha demanding end to corruption and changes in the legislation to punish it more severely. In Ukraine there was a public protest in Maidan demanding end to corruption and more Europe centric policies. In Arab world there were street protests demanding reforms in the political, economic and social structure of the state. In Thailand, street protests were organized against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra as she failed to provide good governance. In Hong Kong there is now Occupy Central movement to protest against mainland China which wants a more controlled democratic process introduced there. In Brazil people gathered to protest against spending on organizing football world cup rather than alleviating poverty. Similar movements are experienced in other countries around the world. In Pakistan, Go Nawaz Go is a social movement against the status quo rather than a political slogan.


The more interesting thing to observe is what the outcome of all these movements is and whether they were able to change the status quo for a better future. Tea party and Occupy Wall Street were able to force both Republican and Democratic Parties to reconsider their political agendas although the real effect has been minimal. Tea Party supported candidates of Republican Party were able to win elections among which the most notable is Senator Rand Paul. He is also considered a Tea Party favorite for 2016 Presidential elections.


Social movement of Anna Hazare was later converted into a political party by some of his supporters by the name of Aam Admi Party (AAP). The party had a brief success when it gained a small majority in New Delhi state legislature to form a state government which survived for only 49 days. That love affair was extinguished in the Lok Sabha elections when none of their candidates could win and were swept away by status quo party BJP.


Arab Spring could not produce good result except in Tunisia where Islamic Ennahda party has shown flexibility in arriving at a compromise with liberal and secular parties. In Egypt it resulted in the emergence of another dictator after a brief stint by a Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi. In Syria it resulted in a civil war that ravaged the country with over 130,000 dead and counting. In Libya it ousted Maumar Gaddafi through an armed struggle but was replaced by militias that are still engaged in civil war.


In Thailand the street protests produced a martial law which recently appointed a 250 member constituent assembly to draft a new constitution. It can be assumed that for the foreseeable future military will be ruling that country.


In Ukraine the protests in Maidan morphed into a regional crisis producing civil war in the country supported by EU and Russia on either side. Crimea, part of Ukraine, was annexed by Russia after a referendum that supported joining the motherland after a break of about 60 years. Eastern Ukraine is infiltrated by separatists supported by Russia while Western Ukraine is given diplomatic, military and economic support by the West.


Go Nawaz Go symbolizes people dissatisfaction with current political, social and economic conditions in the country. It is not a slogan against just politicians but is an alarm for other elite segments of the society i.e. Generals, Bureaucrats and oligarchs. People gathering in D-Chowk Islamabad are responding to the call of Imran Khan as a reformer and anti-status quo voice rather than a political movement of Pakistan Tehrike Insaf (PTI) as a political party. As I have tried to elaborate above it will be a challenge for PTI to covert a social movement into a political movement as is obvious from the failure of other international movements mentioned above.


PTI, as a leading party in this movement, has an opportunity to capitalize on this social awakening. But a mistake by the leadership could be costly not just for the party but for the nation as well. First and foremost challenge will be introduction of electoral, governance and social reforms before next elections. Almost all people that I spoke to in last few days have expressed that elections without reforms will be considered continuation of status quo and could back fire resulting in civil unrest. PTI so far has not clearly spelled out its reform agenda and how to achieve it before elections are held. If they force the dissolution of parliament without enforcing reforms then it could be considered a failure. On the other hand if it produced a technocrat government then they will be blamed for derailing the system.


Another challenge for PTI will be to demonstrate that they are capable and qualified to lead the execution of reforms once they secure a political mandate through elections. PTI performance in KP will be a key benchmark in this regard. Another indication of future outlook will be presentation of a capable and qualified team before the election. Presence of status quo politicians will damage its prospects when people go to the polls and see same names on the ballot paper that they have struggled against in the social movement. This means that PTI has to prepare to contest elections on ideology rather than personalities. This liberation of electorate from the shackles of electables will be first political success for the country. Inability to cross this hurdle would mean loss of the social movement as experienced by other countries.


Another party that is planning to capitalize on this social awakening is Jamat-e-Islami under the able leadership of Siraj ul Haq. His speeches from the stump are highlighting that those that are leading the revolution from containers are fake as they all belong to the Atichson elite club. He is highlighting his own humble background as a source of understanding of the misery of the down trodden. He is visiting every district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to drum his message to the masses. They have also announced a nationwide movement in November under the title Tehrike Pakistan for the establishment of Pakistan envisioned by Jinnah rather than a Naya Pakistan promoted by PTI. JI is also focusing on good governance by the ministries controlled by them in the coalition government with PTI. Siraj ul Haq has also pointed out in his speeches that while their coalition partners are busy in agitation they have focused on delivery to the people. In my personal view Siraj ul Haq, as popular politician, may try to change the orientation of JI from a Muslim Brotherhood type conservative Islamism to Turkish AKP model of secular Islamism which had more political success in other Muslim countries Turkey, Malaysia and Tunis. This will be a major shift for JI as it is considered twin brother of Muslim Brotherhood which was formed by Maulana Maududi and Hassan al-Banna respectively at almost same time.


Failure to convert the social movement of Go Nawaz Go into a political movement will be a shame and throw the country backward rather than take it forward. We all have to ensure that the movement succeeds and achieve its objective of reforming the society for a better future.

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