Democracy in Action, in Pakistan

By Mahvish Akhtar, MMNS Pakistan Correspondent


Pakistan’s reinstated chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry (C) waves to supporters after the government’s announcement at his residence in Islamabad March 16, 2009. The government agreed on Monday to reinstate Chaudhry as chief justice in a surprise move to defuse a crisis and end agitation by lawyers and activists that has threatened to turn into violent confrontation.


The people of Pakistan have proven something with the recent events of the country. They have proven that they have what it takes to bring change and make a difference. The people of the country went through a lot in the passed couple of weeks and months. They had much to deal with and much to get used to. However, the public refused to get used to things that they clearly knew were not good for them and infringed on their rights as citizens of a democratic Islamic Republic.

First there was the dismissal of the government of Punjab which seemed unfair because the people deciding who is worthy and who is not, don’t have the public’s anonymous approval of being worthy themselves. The people took to the streets and showed that they will not let others deciding for them what is good and what is not. Nevertheless this was not something to pay too much attention to because this is just how things are in our neck of the woods. Someone sitting somewhere up high makes a decision without any regards for the public and the public kicks and screams until they get tired.

This had come just after Dr. Qadeer had been released and we were all happy and wondering how things will be now. We thought that things will get better from this point on. We are on a path to getting things in order. But when the government in Punjab was dismissed the public felt like it was never about them. They felt like what happened with Dr. Qadeer was a plan of the federal government to get something out of it that they needed. The hopes and dreams that had started to build quickly started to fade away again. Once again we were on the streets fighting for a right we should have gotten without having to fight at all.

People such as my self thought that the Million Man March would not work and would not bring about any change. Than we saw this statement coming true; there was chaos everywhere, people were being arrested. Those of us who think that we are so intelligent and know what all of us need thought, “see this is what I was talking about”. We knew that any protest whether peaceful or not ends in chaos and brings no results whatsoever in our country.

I think the truth of the matter is we are tired of watching our own police and soldiers picking up sticks and guns on our brothers, fathers and husbands. We just didn’t want to go through that again. What we didn’t realize that working toward what is right against all odds is what it takes sometimes to get people to realize the truth.

While we were watching those scenes on TV and thinking its never going to change we heard those words that changed it all. Our struggles became worthwhile. We were being told that what we worked for was all meaningful and it made a difference.

My friend called me the other day and said, “hey we did it”. “Did what?” I was a confused as to what she was talking about. “Chaudhry Iftikhar is reinstated”. I thought about it for a moment-we did do it, didn’t we? It was the public, us who were resilient and did not give up.

This is the kind of change and reward for struggle that maybe even the citizens of the United States can understand today. Before the presidential elections no one could have ever imagined having a President like President Obama. However, it happened. Along with that everything changed. The way people think is different now, the way people view the future is different now. The way people see leadership is different now. This stands true for both countries.

Two countries so far away from one another and in such different situation are dealing with the same feeling of having won against huge odds. This is a feeling that can take a nation to great heights. What is left now is to make this feeling last. Unfortunately that is not really in our control a 100%. We have to depend on those politicians in whom we have put our faith. All we can do is pray that they have the courage to stand up for us and fight like we have done for them.

This has been a good year for democracy in our country and here in the United States. Of course the events of today are an indication for the future but at the same time future can never be predicted. This does not mean that our work is done and that hard work will not be needed. This just means that we can be sure every so often we will turn to one of our friends and say, “hey we did it!”


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