Rise, Resolve, Resist


Andleeb Abbas

Two worlds, one country. Terror. Fear. Torture. Threats. Versus hope, resolve, passion and anger. These are the contrasts one sees in the country. Those who rule are blinded by their immense power. Those who are ruled are, for the first time, having a crystal clear sight of their abuse of power and their ability to deal with it. To some, this situation may seem sensational. To others, it may be a sign of the coming of anarchy. Whatever it is, these are defining moments. These are moments never witnessed before. These are moments that can make or break a country. On the one hand, there seems to be no end to this mindless imposition of force on people’s voices, movements and choices. At the same time, and, perhaps, for the first time, people are refusing to go into the resigned ostrich mode we have witnessed for decades whenever “forces” directly or indirectly impose over the governing of this country.
What can be more obvious than the statement by the home minister in which he openly professes that it is “either Imran or us?” Rana Sanaullah said, “When the ruling party feels that its existence is under threat, it can go to any extent against its chief political rival without considering what is illegal or undemocratic.”
This is an admission by a top man under whom the law and order agencies operate that he is ready to abuse the law and violate democracy if it means removing/killing Imran Khan. This “removal” word is no longer loaded. An attempt to kill him is already proof. The way the government went about destroying JIT evidence is a confirmation of their fear of the findings of the JIT. Appointing the same people on JIT who destroyed the evidence is further proof of their incrimination. So the heat has reached the boiling point. The desperation is now blazing, yet the “force” may be weakening due to:
Crackdown folly- Passion, what nonsense. Give them one good thrashing and they will run for their lives. This is the thought process of “Operation Crush Resistance.” There is a complete operation of silencing any or all supporters of Imran Khan. Arresting the leaders and subjecting them to custodial torture, catching hold of ordinary workers and supporters by the scruff of their neck, beating them, dragging them into prison vans and whisking them to unknown destinations. These are visuals coming across social media. These visuals are a daily routine. Then there are the night-time break-in operations. Dark cars, dark deeds. Climb gates, barge into houses, and harass women, elders, and servants. Thrash a few. Pick some people.
Such is the brutality that when the worker was not in the house, his seven-year-old son was picked up. Onlookers, photographers, tweeters, cheerleaders, anybody or everybody who dares to support Imran Khan is treated like a criminal. Thousands have been abducted as there is no warrant, no reason, no law that allows such random picking of people who disappear. What has this crass, crude terror operation achieved? The objective was to scare people. The intent was to crush resistance. It has done exactly the opposite. It has made people rebel. It has made people angry. It has made people more convinced that the government and its handlers are villains. The passion that “they” said was just a matter of a few brutal beatings is at an all-time high.
Clampdown Stupidity- In this rush of panic, fear, and denial, PDM and company are busy shutting down voices. PEMRA has become Pakistan’s Electronic Mess that nobody can defend. From banning rallies to banning channels, they have become a joke. They are also giving instructions for one day city-wise shutdown of coverage specific to Khan’s movement. This strategy is a no-brainer. Firstly, electronic channels are almost irrelevant to viewers. With everybody watching on their phones the message has reached where TV is not available. The Pani Pat-like scenes in Zaman Park were proof of how the police and rangers, with all their resources, had to retreat finally. As they shut channel transmission, viewership on social media has gone up. The daily trends on social media are bothering the big and powerful. So now, they have decided to clamp down on the social media boys who run PTI social media. All over the country, including Karachi, Quetta, Lahore and Peshawar, boys are being abducted without any warrant and cases and taken to unknown places. This is their clampdown strategy on social media. It is ridiculous.
These trends are not formed by one person. These trends are formed by thousands who tweet and retweet. The general public is so fed up with what is going on in the country that they are going to tweet against them. In this whole madness, the institutions and the people who head the institutions cut a sorry figure. The fake cases being made and the reasons being given by the Punjab police and ECP have created bad perceptions about their intent, integrity and competence. The IG Punjab talked about the worsening law and order situation as a reason for not holding the election at February 8 meeting. He quoted various incidents in his report that also included a blast that he claimed occurred on February 16 while the report was submitted on February 8. Such foolish mistakes have made the clampdown operation look like a C-class horror circus.
Miscalculation Galore- For the establishment and PDM, this is a tragedy of errors. It is called a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you want something to happen, you believe all information that supports that happening. From mistaking that Imran Khan’s popularity is down enough to bring regime change to thinking that the shut, beat, kill strategy will subdue resistance, the chain of mishappening is endless.
They were wrong in the first place and they are wrong now. That realisation has sunk in everybody but them. The statement of Rana Sanaullah that it is Imran Khan or us is proof of their misplaced belief that minus Imran, all problems will be solved. The recent jalsa in Lahore embodies their suicidal strategy. The Lahore High Court allowed it. The administration blocked all roads coming to Lahore. They also block all roads internally leading to Minar e Pakistan. They shut down the internet. They blacked out TV channels. The jalsa was a thumping success. Look at the latest miscalculation on the judiciary. Fearing that judiciary is going to uphold the constitutional requirement of holding elections within 90 days they have overnight passed the bill to curb Chief Justice’s powers. This is another attempt to threaten the Chief Justice and influence the decision. It is a miscalculation that will not only cost them presently but also in the future.
There is sheer hysteria in PDM’s ranks. Rana Sanaullah’s statements have shocked international analysts. But this mindset is prevalent in their ranks. That is why the mindless picking up of boys who are photographers, who are cooks, are just cheerleaders is futile. If anything, it is enraging the public and inviting international condemnation. The murders of Arshad Sharif and Zille Shah are still hurting. With the economy now left to crush and crash, the financial pain has been combined with the emotional anguish. This has resulted in unvented outrage. Take note: A six-year-old boy standing on top of the stage of Minar e Pakistan made the crowd vow not to accept suppression and fight for freedom till the last breath. Generation next has sealed the fate of the status quo in the country.