By Nita Chicooree
Mark my words, a Moroccan acquaintance said, in the wake of the Jasmine Revolt, delusions will soon follow. And he was right.
Autocratic regimes do not undergo complete metamorphosis overnight. Even in Morocco, which is supposed to have subtly avoided uprisings thanks to the apparent open-mindedness of the king, free elections by the people to elect political parties is overshadowed by the royal resolution to keep key ministries under the King’s direct rule.
And the King is currently in France where he studied and was groomed by his socialist mentors.
The sovereign is said to be preserving his own interests in the economic landscape of the country and is cautious to protect the interests of the foreign countries which support him. He is said to be wary of Islamist influence in the country. However, he compares favorably with his Arab counterparts elsewhere whose brutal repression of Islamists had the opposite effect with the radicals drawing public sympathy. No wonder that people voted for those who offered solace during decades of corruption of the establishment and deprivation of amenities and rights.
Egyptian protesters are not allowed to rest, if we go by recent events of street riots and strong protests over the reluctance of the military to hasten the return to democratic rule. Lavishly funded by U.S. taxpayers’ money, the army showed its true colours. The determination of the public to get the army out of the political arena is most laudable. Egypt is not Turkey where Mustapha Kemal Atta Turk entrusted the army with the duty and responsibility to preserve and defend the institutions of the country. Egyptian protesters are set to fight for the ideals they initially took to the streets for. Otherwise, they might have to wait for decades before the army relinquishes power.
In Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf seized power after a military coup and kept it for years notwithstanding promises to hand over power back to legitimate political parties. Today, it looks as if politicians had been beaten in their own game of consorting with both religion and the army. Rare outspoken journalists dare to draw attention to the colossal human tragedy that is taking place in Balochistan. Baloch journalists are kidnapped and killed by the Pakistani army. Those who protest against oppression, misrule and corruption are arrested, tortured to death and their bodies dumped and abandoned at remote places.
Thousands of Baloch nationals are missing, hundreds have been slaughtered. Only two editorialists have denounced the killings perpetrated by the army amid the apathy of the government and indifference of the public. The Indian press has been busy mediatizing the interviews and grand standing of the glamorous cricket superstar-turned-politician, Imran Khan. And yet, after simply claiming just rights, a new wave of separatism has found resonance in Balochistan, which is getting more friendly to India.
The government is reported to be helpless before the army’s skewed policies. Heavily funded by the U.S., and supportive of Islamists, the army is set to blow hot and cold for years. Add to that, the peculiar double standard of fighting and supporting terrorists. Many journalists and liberals have left the country; even the judge who condemned to death the bodyguard who shot down the late governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer has fled. How the authorities will get the country out of the distressing quagmire remains to be seen.
* Published in print edition on 2 December 2011