Echoes of revolution

Published: September 14, 2010

President Asif Ali Zardari with a portrait of Benazir Bhutto in the background

Pakistan is experiencing the worst form of governance in its history and with this comes talks of revolution.  Even in a crisis like the deadly floods Pakistan’s  ministers have failed to focus on public service. The besieged government is unable to deal with conflicts – both man made and natural, and rumors of revolution echo through Pakistan’s political sphere.

MQM chief Altaf Hussain was the first to test these waters by articulating the suspicion of Pakistanis when he accused feudal landlords of deliberately diverting waters to neighbouring villages to save their crops, live stocks and personal properties. The political reaction was a mixed one, however, massive public support to the idea of ‘change’ raised eye brows in Pakistani think-tanks and the media.

The blunt yet pragmatic demand from the MQM Chief is a further extension of his party’s political manifesto in which he is critical about the disguised dictatorship working under the banner of democracy – this time he wants action from the army, the real power base of Pakistan having a strong influence in policy making. The call for the army has come from him as a response to the betrayal of the elected feudal representatives against the catastrophe which we are faced with.

Criticism or fear?

Conventional political parties filled with feudal lords and corrupt politicians are as expected, criticizing Altaf’s statement by calling it an attempt to derail the ‘democratic’ setup. Instead of discussing the lead given by him and debating the technicalities of his viewpoint for finding a solution, the politicians are hell-bent on exploiting a rare opportunity of fixing Pakistan’s political setup.

Altaf’s call for revolution to rescue Pakistan and its people from the clutches of feudal lords, corrupt politicians and plunderers of national wealth is not an invite to the military to take over but is in fact in, line with the Constitution. The Supreme Court could invoke Article 190 and ask for aid from the army when the Executive refuses to take action on its verdict. It seems that there is no other way to get rid of this 63 year old elected despondency as the rotation of same families will continue and the public will keep bearing the same democratic dictators and their breed through out their life.

The real issues

As far as criticism on Altaf Hussain’s statement is concerned, I believe it’s high time that politicians and the public kept personal grudges aside and looked for the real issues being highlighted.

Pakistanis have recently witnessed the army’s role as protectors of their lives from terrorists and natural calamities. Although approved of by the nation at large, the army received recognition by the outspoken MQM Chief, who has urged them to cleanse our society of elected despondency. The MQM have floated an idea for building an effective and inclusive government which is what Pakistan deserves.  It is now up to us as a nation to decide whether to bring about change or choose to follow the likes of Bhuttos, Pagaras, Makhdooms and Sharifs once again.


Tanzeel Ahmad

A UAE based marketing professional who is interested in politics and cultural issues. He blogs at

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Syed Nadir El-Edroos

    Floated the idea is not the same as action, seems prudent political opportunism to me, but then again………Recommend

  • faraz

    Our problem is not feudalism but feudal mindset. MQM didnt even allow IDPs from flooded areas of interior Sindh to enter karachi; how is this atttitude different from feudals who diverted waters to save their floods.

    Which 63 year old elected despondency are you talking about. Army ruled this country directly for 35 years and no democratic government was allowed to complete its turn. The marshall law of 1958 laid the foundations of Dhaka fall. Yahya khan ensured the dismemberment of pakistan. Zia radicalised the society and Musharraf brought terrorism to our door steps. The terrorists which the army is fighting are its own creation. It were’nt the political parties which gave the ridiculous idea of creating “strategic depth” using brainwashed civilians.Recommend

  • The Only Normal Person Here.

    Well written. To the point and gives a vivid perspective.

    It is very important for our country to go through a rigid military culture. Let’s accept it, there is a lot of filth and it desperately needs to be cleansed. We shouldn’t forget that corrupt is infested from lower class to the elitist, naturally they would ELECT DEMOCRATICALLY corrupt people. Hence, the result is what we are facing today.

    Army intervention is very important to get the nation discipline.Recommend

  • Mad Monk

    So the army is going to go against the interests of the feudal elite? That is wishing for a little too much, my friend. Feudalism still remains intact even when around 6 dictatorships have already surfaced. The Army and the Feudals originate from the same stock. The MQM is motivated by self-interest here… nothing patriotic or revolutionary to it. They fear the influx of IDPs in Karachi is going to upset the votebank to their detriment. So Altaf Bhai invoking the Army might actually be a subliminal message about a facelift of Pakistani Politics… one that involves a better deal for the MQM.Recommend

  • Liaquat Ali

    When NASDAQ/Reuters offered their huge sign at Times Square free of cost for one hour, the Pakistani Consulate in New York chose to show pictures of Benazir and others instead of running flood relief donation collection campaign.

    Such is the insensitivity of those in power.

    Altaf Hussain’s call seems to be the last warning before the current “democratic” drama ends like many others in Pakistan.

    My prediction for the next setup:

    Musharraf as president.
    Prime minister from APML-MQM.Recommend

  • Taimoor Hassan

    Well written. BravoRecommend

  • Yasser

    What i noticed is Pakistani people are pre occupied with opinions, that’s why they couldn’t focus themselves what Mr.Hussain is asking, he is asking for End of feudalism who rule on rural areas and that’s where majority of Pakistan lives.Recommend

  • Shabbir Shah

    Political dictionary of Pakistan is already exhaustive with some heavy revolutionary terms i.e. Islamic Revolution of Jamait-e-Islami, Justice Revolution of Pakistan Tehreek Insaf, Socialist Revolution of Communist Party of Pakistan, Bloody Revolution of Mian Shahbaz Sharif and now we have been introduced with the French like Revolution by MQM Chief Altaf Hussain which is strangely associated with patriotic generals. God knows where we are heading to.Recommend

  • Mariam

    Well written. I am one of those who support Altaf’s statement and there are many others like me who want to get rid of fuedals and their dirty politics.

    //Conventional political parties filled with feudal lords and corrupt politicians are as expected, criticizing Altaf’s statement by calling it an attempt to derail the ‘democratic’ setup.

    Ye, these are the people who want to save democracy even if it destroys PAKISTAN. Recommend

  • Ali Tahir

    It is really cynical seeing him giving such statements when he was the person who was the first to nominate a Sindhi Feudal Zardari as the president. He should for once distance his party from being part of the government and then start admonishing the wrongs of fuedals. Recommend

  • Usman

    Talking about revolution goes back to the 60’s in Pakistan’s history when Army took over the country. Whilst people wanted “change” The individual taking over always wanted what was right for him and not for the people of the country. People even talked about revolution when Chief Justice movement was in full swing back in March 2009. Army intervention has always been for personal gain and not for the people.

    Personally i don’t care if it democracy, martial-law or a mixed temporary setup as long as people’s basic necessities are met with ease and the living standard of the poor is raised.

    MQM, a party, who’s hands are dirty cant lead people for a “revolution” especially coming from an a leader who resides in another country since many years and not to mention the “revolutionary” statement was made the next day after US diplomat Bryan D. Hunt meets Altaf Hussain for 6 hours on AUG, 21.

    A revolution is always lead by an individual who has the capacity to speak the minds of all ethnic backgrounds where as MQM fails to speak the mind of the masses when it has personal issues against the Pashtoons/Punjabis & not to mention, making a public statement for not allowing flood victims to enter Karachi.

    People have already learned a valuable lesson against feudals and i am sure there will be less votes during future elections. As for future will there be a regime change soon? YES. Will MQM be part of the new “setup” Ofcourse, they love being in power.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Politics is like chess and Altaf is positioning himself, like he almost always does, so that his bread is buttered on both sides. He is smart and looks after his own.Recommend

  • Tanzeel

    @Ali Tahir et al:

    Unfortunately Asif Ali Zardari ‘deserved’ to be the President of this nation since his party got majority of votes.

    As far as distancing his party from the government is concerned, I believe it won’t serve the purpose as long as this ‘system’ is here. Do you want them to use undemocratic means of protest ?

    I reiterate let’s not discuss from where the demand is coming, talk about the subject by being non political.

    I second Yasser here, people here are preoccupied with opinions, that’s why they couldn’t focus themselves what Altaf Hussain asked.

    Let’s become unbiased for sometime!Recommend

  • kamal khan

    i buy the point that politicians should keep aside their personal interests and look at the technicalities of what Altaf Bai suggested. As far as the issue of IDPs is concerned, MQM’s stance is very much clear as attempts are made with consistency to change the demography of Karachi in order to undermine MQM mandate. The same is happening in Gilgit Baltistan where the indigenous population adhering to different denominations of Islam were living peacefully, which now seems to be otherwise as the immigrants are creating rifts on basis of religion. In face every sindhi, punjabi and pathan can live in Karachi, however they should not be tools for others to inflict harm to the MQM and its mandate. Recommend

  • Sobia Khursheed

    Spot on! A very well presented point of view.Recommend

  • Zubair Khan

    Great article,appreciate it alot,though Even though I agree at many points but I disagree as well,Pakistan is at a stage where there is no point of return because any sort of misadventure by Army or the civilian government would lead to more destruction,The so called revolution(Im all for it but with army,it could lead to an absolute anarchy) could work as long as people along with certain section in your major think tanks,bureaucracy,people,media stand up to these senile politicians.

    Sorry but Inviting army is like playing with the fire again,Army is strong,have alot of say in Foreign and defence affairs of Pakistan,but their job is to remain in barracks or at Border,not to run country and yes,inviting martial law is calling Army,Invoking Article 190 is’nt possible as well considering Judiciary’s recent relationship with army,hence on the issue,judiciary and government might just be together.
    Pakistan in her 63 years of Existence had almost 40 years of Army rule and democracy as I would put it was never given any chance and when it was,we labeled it ‘sham democracy(to an extent rightly so)’ without ever thinking of consequences,it took Pakistan at least decades back,back to square one with nothing in hand,having to call foreigners to run our economy with actions that later slit the Economic throat of country herself,having to invite a war which initially was’nt even ours but we still fought. 63 years of Pakistan’s history is nothing compared to world’s other successful nations,It took America 200 years herself to be where she is today,The history is infront of us,America was never a democracy,was infact initially the same fuedal society where gangs,ethnicities,personal grudges,territorial control of certain regional economic places was everything,followed by the period of Neo-feudalism to which I believe Pakistan is suffering from as well. Feudalism is there,it is a problem,almost 75% that sit in your parliament,they are feudals but this is all ‘Primary problem’ ,how do you solve it ? You obviously cannot solve it with calling army and certainly not in 63 years and definitely 3 years so far for this government cant even be mentioned,Pakistan needs time,Pakistan needs break from Army’s hegemonial rule over this country,but with time,we shall change our main systems,shall face ‘Political evolution’ and the effect as I said before would be of Trickle up effect,People would realize…..Everything will happen but with time.
    Sorry ,but we need to get rid of feudalism,corrupt politicians etc etc YES,but not with Army,only by ourselves and with time,we shall do it because calling in Army is saying Good bye to a place that we call our home Pakistan.Recommend

  • Sana

    A very well written article.

    Pakistan is facing the worst economic crisis, but why is it surprising? Isnt this the same everytime PPP govt takes over?

    Its really upto the Pakistanis to come out of their emotional attachments with bhuttoism and Nawaz-ism and realise the enemy within. Govt has failed, failed to provide security, food, inshort everything it promised.

    Musharraf’s words, ”Pakistan ka Allah hee hafiz” echo louder and louder with every passing moment.Recommend

  • Muzammil

    Article 190 no where refers to Army,infact it refers to same executive in question here,Article 243 makes it clear who has the command of army Recommend

  • Anoop

    Revolution on what principles? Pakistanis have lost confidence in Democracy, hate secularism, their country was based on a divisive ideology, dont like the god-less-ness of Communism, have given Islam a bad name.

    Tell me on which of these popular principles is there going to be a revolution? Recommend

  • S. Ali Raza

    Article 190 can be used by the Judiciary, when they feel their orders are not being implemented. Take recent example of the childish move by Irfan Qadir of NAB. Recommend

  • Shah Rind

    Apex court could call the Army for help in getting its verdict implemented. Army is a part of the executive and is bound to obey the court’s order under Article 190 of the Constitution. There is an antecedent on this in past, when former chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah called the Army chief.Recommend

  • Aftab S. Alam

    Pakistan is a country where different people live without a sense of being a nation —- some of us consider ourselves a nation of Pakistanis, while some claim us to be Islamic nation! I personally neither anticipate a revolution nor a solution with it —– a society as polarised as Pakistani which is divided on diverse basis as provincialism and intra-provincialism, regional distrust, sectarianism and sub-sectarian divides, ethnic diversity, poor vs. the rich, literacy gap, multi-educational system vs. non-existence of any educational facility, and on and on and on —– in short we are a people extremely divided. Such circumstances can lead to total breakdown of a system and without any rule of law which means total anarchy, a fre-for-all. Obviously this can not last much longer and after some bloodshed and mayhem the vacume will be filled by the most organized party aka military and restore the status quo. Recommend

  • Nazia Tauheed

    Well written, Mr. Tanzeel.
    We are fed up of this system, we need change which will be welcomed by Pakistanis.Recommend

  • Shahid

    Regarding Pakistan’s situation, Mr. Altaf Hussain’s concerns are quite valid. Politicians have simply over-reacted to his statement.Recommend

  • Muzammil

    Why misquoting Sajjad Ali Shah case? He never invoked Article 190,the army was called upon for the PROTECTION of judges,not IMPLEMENTATION of its verdict,and army didnt even came on direct request of SC,rather it was done through proper channels i.e President and the ministry of defense Recommend

  • Neeraj, India

    Tanzeel, I am sorry to say that this article of yours’ is just naive. If you believe that revolutions are brought by leaders (individuals) or by institutions like army, judiciary, political parties, religious organizations etc. then you are absolutely mistaken. A well organized institution like army, is just capable of bringing a coup d’état, but, never a revolution. Coming to the individuals, no leader in the history of mankind has ever been able to produce a revolution. In fact, if you throw a glance at the the history, it is the revolutions which brought up leaders. A revolution can never be attributed to a single event or an individuals’ effort, but it is a culmination of preceding decades of social decadence, injustice, oppression, tyranny, selfish use of national wealth, misuse of authority and ruthless exploitation of working class masses.
    You talk about revolution in Pakistan, but, revolt against whom? The simple answer should be the feudal lords, then who are the real feudal lords? The answer is the Army-Mullah-Jagirdar alliance. My question is if the Pakistani civil society or educated and enlightened people like you are indeed ready to shed your personal comforts and come out in open to lead your country, to it’s rightful place in the world by giving voice to millions of your opppressed brothers and sisters? I doubt so. Yes, many of you are capable and courageous enough to face tanks and bullets, but, how many of you can withstand fatwas?
    Ironically, though, after lecturing you about virtues of a revolution, I have left with no other option but to agree with you that if there is any hope for a real change in Pakistan, it can come only through army. The army is surely infested with feudal elements, but there must be some people in the army, who may really be concerned about the Pakistan’s rapid descent into darkness. If a truly patriotic and staunchly secular army general, takes over Pakistan, I would be very happy, but it would be just a military coup and certainly not a revolution. I wish you a Mustafa Kamal Ataturk! Recommend

  • Azhar Hussain

    MQM is in the habit of pointing fingers. Can anyone define what Wadera, Sardar or Choudhry means or for that matter Jageedar means. It means treating people without respect, using them like slaves; total control of the people in their domain. This defination fits in with Altaf Hussain and MQM; This defination fits in with industrialists living in urban Karachi. AH is th emost powerful wedera we have, he unfortunately controls the educated in the urban areas of Sindh. This party has been murdering and causing mayhem in karachi for the past 25 yrs. Who is going to bring this guy to face the music. Yes Army should come and cleanse Pakistan of these filty politicians that includes surprise MQM lot as well. If that happens the same jokers are going to turn against Pakistan Army and called it the Punjab Army.Recommend

  • Agha.Majeed

    Army generals caused a heavy loss to Pakistan. We would not lend any direct or indirect support to any such move, I wish the democratic govt to complete its constitutional tenure. Recommend

  • Nishu

    I do not know due to certain reasons, I feel happy to read this article, I dunt have courage to complain this time , No matter how much I abhor altaf-essence in the article :/ Other than that, Article has ample evidences of Governments failure, But it wud be unfair to say that they’re gonna do nothing and sit on their fannies. The Word “Government” instinctively generates rancour and anger in my mind.

    On the whole, Nice effort :)


  • Sarah Malik

    Good work mate… to the point demonstration.Recommend

  • Sana Saleem

    Mr. Altaf Hussain is right in saying that it is dictatorship under the guise of democracy but I still think that he is doing this for personal grudges against the Government. What if the leaders unite and work together to take the country out of this crisis and many more to come?Recommend

  • A. Aijaz

    When the departments and agencies responsible have not yet done anything against the feudals who have saved their properties by breaking embankments and displaced Millions of people, I believe it is the right of diplaced people to take over the properties of those feudals. I fully support Mr. Altaf Hussain’s point of view.

    I would like to add that the Government is behaving kiddish. Pakistani nation was already under the daunting threat of global economic recession in 2008, then law-n-order situation made our economy more weak and now this flood and selfishness from Government and Feudals has totally broken the backbone of Pakistan. Its impact is yet to hit us in near future in the form of doubled poverty, un-reachable costs of basic needs, may be tax on burial etc.

    In these circumstances, REVOLUTION is the only solution and its encouraging that each and every sensible Pakistani atleast in my horizon seems convinced and playing his/her role in making others understand that:

    Pehlay Apni Tabiat ko Kar Inqilaab Aashna
    Tabhi Tere Mahol Mai Inqilaab Aaiga….!


    Aey AijazRecommend

  • anam farhat

    very well written and its an eye opener for everyone….Recommend

  • Azhar Naffar Hussain

    Getting on the bandwagon is all fine and dandy, but Mr. Tanzeel when are you going to write about MQM aka Altaf Hussain and his parties atrocities in urban Sindh. And Mr. Kamal Khans comments on IDP and MQM mandate. Mr Khan are these people who cmoing to Karachi after floods and Taliban terrorism not Pakistanis? It is sickning to hear people talk like this. Karachi is not the property of MQM, that their mandate does not have to stay like this foreever. And Mr. Kamal would your opinion be the same if lots of Indian Muslims came Karachi, I am afraid not.Recommend

  • Taha Bin Niaz

    Pakistan need REVOLUTION against corrupt generals, feudal and politicians because the current system, not only protect them but gave them the power to rule, every Patriotic Pakistani do agree this.
    But No one is ready to struggle & stand against this system, No one has the courage to call the spade a spade.Recommend

  • Tipu Sultan

    If the rich of our country will continue to suppress the poor, there are chances of blood shed. This is nothing new, it always happens in any society which throws away the poor and concentrate on the rich community. For example you can read the French revolution and there are other examples as well.

    A revolution comes or not, the thing is that we should be sane enough to understand that this is brutality of our government to save the rich people’s lands and flood the poor. To not make any arrangements for the people of Pakistan and they are always busy in their own mischiefs.

    Finally simply revolutionize your own self, if we are living on a revolution, revolution is there for us. Let’s all unite for the sake of humanity and poor people in Pakistan. Lets comply upon our obligation by Allah (SWT) to help the mankind and do not kill them. If others are killing and we are sitting in our AC rooms chilling with our technology equipment, we also join the killers by this attitude.

    I hope you will take my comments in a positive way. or just try to extract the positivity.Recommend

  • Afat Qiamat

    Well Said Mr Azhar Naffar Hussain , Mr Altaf’s idealogy is of neo-feudalism…..which is urban in character and has Educated ” mazarey’s ” as ” kami -Kameens ” for his work.

    By the way , ………there are no wadeyra’s or Jagerdars in Pakistan now, its a new evolved form consisting of their next generation . Recommend