THIS is apropos Zubeida Mustafa’s article ‘Lessons of long march’ (Jan 30). The writer praises Dr Tahirul Qadri for his ability to mobilise and organise people during his long march and then compares him with the activists ‘claiming to speak for the marginalised’ or the leftists.
I would only say the comparison made was inappropriate.
First, we would have to see things in their proper perspective. The battle line is between the powers of status quo and the forces of change. The former consisits of mulla, millitary and feudals and the latter includes nationalists and leftists. Dr Qadri represents the former group. Thus the status quo forces are his natural allies and whatever he says and does carries their full support.
The writer’s question is: “How did the leader of the march manage to pull off this show of strength when others fail?”
It’s simple: he managed it with the help of his natural allies. Some people say the show was managed by those allies through Dr Qadri. Some even said and wrote that ‘all this was going on according to the script’.
In the case of ‘others’ (read leftists), all these forces of status quo are allied against them. What these forces and, to some extent, even the media have been jointly doing to oppress and suppress the leftists throughout Pakistan’s history is an open secret. So how can then the two different, nay opposed, scenarios be compared?
It is also a misconception that ‘he has got people to take stand and put a rotten government on the defensive’. No question of the government going on defensive since the government and Dr Qadri were hand-in-glove, apparent from the red carpet reception he received in Islamabad and the manner and substance,if any, of the eventual ‘agreement’. Neither Dr Qadri’s men took any stand.
The only stand coming from them was was that they had come on the orders of their leader and will stay and/or go as per his orders.
We all, including Ms Musrafa, know that Dr Qadri is their religious, not political, leader. We all know that faith alone is the motivating force in matters of religion, but leftists and progressives pursue their cause on the basis of reason and rationality.
If big and ‘disciplined’ crowd is such an impressive and imposing factor, then only some days earlier another spiritual leader, Pir Pagara, also managed a show that was much bigger, and also discipilined, than that of Dr Qadri’s. But this could not attract the writer’s attention because the media chose not to highlight it because it did not suit its scheme of things.
Moreover, the writer has mixed leftists, NGOs and traditional political parties with each other, though they differ in composition and character and their aims and objectives.
Political parties are up for grabbing and keeping power at any cost, NGOs work for maintaining the status quo but the leftist goal is to effect a basic change in the system.
It seems an easy answer is sought for a difficult and complex question.
No doubt the left has its own weaknesses but to bring about a change in favour of the masses, pro-status quo people like Dr Qadri must not be idealised. Instead we should seek inspiration from the men of change like Mao Zedong, with whom the phrase ‘long march’ is synonymous, Nelson Mandela and Hugo Chavez.
We are far away from our goal of profound change not because we have not adopted the manners of people like Dr Qadri but because we have abandoned our own ways we followed up to the 1980s.
The lesson to learn here is that the forces of status quo are active and united, so should be the forces of change.
ABDUL KHALIQUE JUNEJO