It’s a case of shortsightedness
There are some things you simply cannot do, such as forcing your country’s capital to shut down, or preventing people from assembling to protest. Well you can, but you should not, and not only because the action carries repercussions. The best policy of course would be to provide effective governance so that people in such numbers do not feel the need to protest or shut down the capital, but that’s wishful thinking. Therefore, if the need to protest does present itself people should be allowed to do so, although not to shut down the capital. They may be stopped when and if they create damage (or shut down the capital) but you cannot do so preemptively by stopping them from assembling as much as you cannot force a journalist to divulge his sources.
Although he hopes to compel the journalist to reveal his sources and I don’t like that, I do agree with much of the rest of what Chaudhry Nisar said at his press conference that no one person, party or provincial power has the right to shut down Islamabad, the capital territory. He was of course referring to Imran Khan’s stated intention of doing just that on the 2nd of November.
In news published by this newspaper, the Chairperson of the PTI on the 30th of October directed his party workers across Pakistan to uproot all barricades and impediments leading to Islamabad and reach Bani Gala on Monday’ to achieve this far from laudable intention of shutting down the capital.
Mr. Khan is reported as saying, “I urge all party members, who were supposed to come on Nov 2, to reach tomorrow,” Khan said talking to reporters outside his Bani Gala residence. “Do not let any obstruction on the way stop you.”
“You have to reach here because we don’t see any law in this country,” Mr. Khan said. Then, funnily enough, Mr. Khan added that if the courts tried to prevent him by ruling against his actions he would defy them.
Anyone see any contradictions here? Because basically supporters are being asked to defy the courts, and break all obstacles, although some of these obstacles may be kosher, to come object to the absence of law in the country.
In Pakistan people need little encouragement to break the law. It’s one reason one doesn’t ‘see any laws’ here. Such incitement as offered by Mr. Khan is generally the cause of a great deal of loss, financial as well as of life. Both have already taken place, well before 2nd November. Such actions are also likely to translate into greater damage for the country in the long run, because you know there is such a thing as ‘in the long run,’ much as few people seem to recognize that. To drum the point home:
‘In the long run peace is better for Pakistan.’
‘In the long run civilian rule is better for the country.’
‘In the long run it is much better for the country to get rid of a pathetic government by waiting and removing it by means of lawful electoral process than to oust it forcibly before its term is over.’
‘In the long run it is foolish to oust a sitting government because if you form the next government yourself someone might oust you in exactly the same way, and hey, you will have provided precedent.’
Here are those sentences rolled into one and rephrased in cricket-speak:
‘For players and for the game of cricket it is better in the long run if rules are followed, if the ICC is allowed to dictate the rules, if the team plays by the rules, and if the team waits for the game to be over before getting rid of the captain, even a poor one, instead of starting a riot during the game on the field.’
Not to be outdone in shortsightedness in the meantime the provincial government in the Punjab has begun impounding containers in readiness for the protest in Islamabad on the 2nd of November, so that they can block the motorway and other roads in an effort to prevent protestors from getting to their meeting point. Some four hundred containers are required for the purpose and to make sure they are heavy and not able to be pushed around by crowds they must be full. That means they must contain goods meant to be sent to Karachi to be loaded onto ships for export. This action spells a huge loss for exporters who will need to pay damages for perishables spoilt by delay and generally not delivered on schedule.
So, in a nutshell the situation is this: a group of people foolishly trying to muscle an elected government unconstitutionally out of office is being unconstitutionally prevented from gathering and doing something they haven’t done as yet. Also to prevent them from causing damage to countless persons, acts they haven’t committed as yet, the elected (but dumb) government is trying to prevent them from assembling by illegally impounding property thereby causing damage to countless persons.
The end result of both is damage to countless people. Meantime, who wins? Someone obviously does, otherwise why bother?