The increasing popularity of striking in Pakistan draws attention to both the severe crises of the country and the shortcomings of this form of civil unrest.
Heavily influenced by the Arab Spring and in the wake of growing mistrust and doubt over the fate of their nation, the youth of Pakistan have discovered a new, and perhaps, the only way to have their voices heard. Gone are the days of indifference when they would simply shrug a shoulder and accept what fate decreed for them. With an over-dramatizing and exuberant media always ready to pounce on even the whiff of a potentially tantalizing headline, these youngsters seem to have assumed that marching out into the streets in large numbers is always the best solution to any and every problem.
One of the most prominent aspects of this rising phenomenon is the growing numbers of educated individuals not only participating, but openly endorsing striking as a means to achieve demands. In recent years we have seen lawyers, nurses, and doctors all uniting and protesting for days on end for various causes. In a country riddled with discrepancies from top to bottom, practically grounded to a stand-still from corruption, mistrust and loss of the rule of law; striking will almost certainly enforce the granting of valid, or for that matter, invalid demands.
The most recent of these protests occurred last week in the city of Lahore by medical students. The students claimed that the test questions in their annual examinations were improperly worded and their examination results were unfairly calibrated, with the result that many students failed in courses which, according to them, they should have passed. As the results had already been declared final, their concerns initially fell on deaf ears. Then, just like a flash mob may suddenly appear in downtown New York, these students took to the streets and staged a protest outside the university, chanting slogans, burning tires, bringing mainstream traffic to a halt, and in the process, seemingly outright enjoying themselves. In the words of one of the protesting students, “It is confirmed now that in Pakistan, all that matters is protests and manpower.” The response was indeed immediate: the vice chancellor of the university assured them that committees would be set up and all the exams would be reviewed for mistakes. The “new” result was promised within 5 days.
One wonders what to be more astonished at: the fact that going on strike worked, or the fact that the vice chancellor admitted the possibility they may well have made mistakes. Is it then wrong for society to mistrust such authorities? Or should this phenomenon be seen as a mere exploitation of past successes, achieved by creating a scene over every decision they disagree on, since they are almost certain that a little bit of tyranny will go a long way.
Many of such protests achieve the intended aim in this manner, simply because relenting to their requests would mean less chaos out on the streets, less media scandals for the accused to worry about. Whether such protestors are right or wrong in their claims is beyond the issue. Yet, what Pakistanis need to consider is whether this is the standard they wish to set in their already crumbling society. Faced with doubts about their credibility as a nation, focusing on personal responsibility and accountability for each and every action should be the primary goal for every citizen. Children and young adults in particular should be encouraged to value honesty, integrity, responsibility and compassion.
As it is absurdly easy to get away with fraud, bribery and vandalism, they have become disturbingly prevalent in all parts of Pakistani society. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to see individuals being revered and honoured by their peers when indulging in such acts. In Pakistan, successful fraudulency is spoken of with pride, and sadly, often even encouraged and favoured. Having evolved as an alternative means to avoid the ever rampant corruption, it is simply one of the sullied parts of society which has seeded its way into practically every dimension of the country, to become the norm. However undesirable to admit, almost every resident Pakistani will at some time be forced to exercise such ideals, whether they want to or not.
It is indeed tragic that a country built on the pretext of being a homeland for Muslims should be deemed the most untrustworthy of all, thereby presenting such a horribly distorted representation of the Islamic faith it claims to uphold. Where law makers break their own laws, and authorities are looked upon with spite, where setting fires will achieve more than educated dialogue and reason. It is indeed evident the future generations will have much to live up to, in the great Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Image from: www.tribune.com.pk
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