On March 12, 1930 Gandhi marched to Dandhi - stopping in forty plus villages - and speaking about swaraj and breaking the salt laws to show their inhumanity. Satyagraha is definitely at the heart of the nonviolent demand for the restoration of the Supreme Court deposed on Nov. 3, 2007 by Pervez Musharraf and specifically Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on March 9, 2007.
Much has happened since then. Benazir Bhutto's return in October 2007 and her assassination in December 2007. The elections in February 2008 brought to power a new coalition of Pakistan People's Party to power with the swashbuckling widow Zardari taking over as President. A basic campaign promise was to solve the judicial crisis and reinstate the Supreme Court of '07.
None of the promises have been kept. Instead, the PPP regime has used the Dogar Supreme Court (cronies put in place by Musharraf) to throw out the opponent political party PML-N out of power in Punjab and restrict Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif from electoral politics.
The Long March of March 12, 2009, leading up to a sit-in at the capital on March 16th, is the only way that the people of Pakistan can produce pressure on the civilian and military regime to pay attention to justice, to accountability and to democracy.
What shouldn't escape anyone's attention is that _THIS_ is what democratic, nonviolent, resistance looks like. This is fine. This is normal. This is what we should expect in a society where the government and the people are out of step. This is not a coup, nor the '79 revolution.
The Zardari regime has reacted as all cornered governments do: mass arrests, police violence on crowds, implementation of laws against critical speech etc.
The best place to follow developments is on Twitter. You should also follow the liveblog on Teeth Maestro. You should also look over this excellent background piece by Madiha Tahir at APP. You should read Sahar Shafqat's op-ed.
Heartening post, lets hope these protests have some impact.
This represents the great potential for positive change that still exists in Pakistan and that the corrupt and criminal establishment has not been able to extinguish in 60 years of trying. Every dictator in Pakistan has faced genuine democratic resistance and while the process has been slow, it is definitely accelerating. So, on this axis, positive change is coming to Pakistan. Unfortunately, on the Y axis, the Islamic Khmer Rouge (aka mujahideen) have also made progress. It is a race against time. If the suicidal establishment (and their EXTREMELY short-sighted and ignorant managers in the US embassy) fails to see its own long term interest and continues to happily saw away at the limb on which they are sitting, then everything may crash into the hands of Khmer Rouge one day. Otherwise, there is hope... Unfortunately, even in today's NY Times, you can see a good example of the kind of blinkered, stereotypical and superficial bullshit that passes for analysis in the metropolitan media: Jane Perlez describes the Zardari PPP as "the secular party" and casts doubts on Nawaz Sharif's ability to "fight the insurgency". It would be hilarious if it wasnt so tragic.
What shouldn't escape anyone's attention is that _THIS_ is what democratic, nonviolent, resistance looks like. This is fine. This is normal. This is what we should expect in a society where the government and the people are out of step. This is not a coup, nor the '79 revolution. Yup it is indeed and lets see for how long our Army keeps her paws off the "throne". I know I can count until Pakistani treasury is empty ;). Sharif brothers after all responsible for keeping Zardari in jail for 11 years, how come no one even mentioning it?