Civil disobedience

Courtesy:- Malik Muhammad Ashraf

Civil disobedience is a non-violent movement which is resorted to by the people of a country to resist unfair laws and measures adopted by their own governments and against the colonial powers to achieve independence. Gandhi’s non-violent resistance movement against British Empire for independence, Velvet Revolution in former Czechoslovakia, movement in East Germany to oust communist government in late eighties, fight against apartheid in South Africa, Civil Rights Movement in USA, Boston Tea Party, The 1919 Revolution in Egypt against British Occupation, Singing Revolution that brought independence to Baltic states from Soviet Union, Rose Revolution in Georgia and Orange Revolution in Ukraine and various other movements worldwide are categorized as Civil Disobedience Movements.

In the nineteenth century, a range of minority groups in the United States--blacks, Jews, Seventh Day Baptists, Catholics, anti-prohibitionists, racial egalitarians, and others--employed civil disobedience to combat a range of legal measures and public practices that to them promoted ethnic, religious, and racial discrimination. Peaceful resistance to public power is now an integral part of minority-rights politics in the USA.
The hall mark of the Civil Disobedience Movements is that they are wholesome phenomenon cutting across the ethnic, sectarian and political divide launched as a last resort when the communities and people after their sustained struggle against injustice come to a conclusion that the remedy was no more possible through any other means.
Viewed in the backdrop of the foregoing conclusions drawn from civil disobedience movements across the globe, the movement launched by Imran Khan to change the government, is unjustified because avenues of addressing his complaints against rigging have neither been exhausted nor he has been able to prove the veracity of his claims through credible evidence at any legal or judicial forum. Whatever justification existed for him to take this extreme step lost its legitimacy the moment the Prime Minister conceded his demand to set up a Judicial Commission to proble the allegations of rigging in the polls. His demand for resignation of the Prime Minister and dissolution of the assemblies is not supported and endorsed by the majority of the political parties and the masses. He stands in isolation in this regard and his view and stance being a minority demand cannot be preferred as a justification for the launch of the civil disobedience movement. It also is bereft of the element of non-violence as is evident from his repeated threats and deadlines for the government to succumb to his demand or be ready for facing the wrath of his supporters.
He also has been very inconsistent and vacillating in regards to what he really wanted. He started with recount in the four constituencies to prove his rigging charges, kept on adding to the list of those who according to him conspired to steal elections from him. 
Then he upped the stakes by asking for opening ten constituencies and when the government agreed to it, he backtracked and demanded the audit of all the constituencies by forming a Judicial Commission. The moment the Prime Minister accepted that demand he again took a somersault and contended that he would go ahead with his proposed long march and came up with the new demands that the Prime Minister should resign and assemblies be dissolved and mid-term elections held in the country. After reaching Islamabad he started giving deadlines for the system to be packed up and finally announced the launch of the civil disobedience movement.
I am of the considered view that by his actions he has exhibited lack of political maturity and an insatiable lust to clinch power without caring for the legitimacy or constitutionality of the means. He has also done an irretrievable damage to his democratic credentials. Political analyst and media commentators were flabbergasted when he called himself, Prime Minister Imran Khan. There seems no constitutional way of him coming into power except with the help of the praetorian powers in the present circumstances and under the existing constitutional arrangement. A former COAS General Aslam Baig has also talked about a hidden-agenda behind the movements by Imran Khan and Qadri. If that is the plan to which many critics and analyst have also been alluding on the basis of the history of such marches and their outcomes, then God protect this land of the pure. It is for sure a recipe for disaster and mind you the country cannot afford such shenanigans any more. It is faced with existentialist threat. National unity and integrity is also threatened by insurgency and separatist movement in Balochistan and continued volatile law and order situation in Karachi. Imran Khan and his string pullers, if he has any, are playing a very dangerous game.


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