Capital suggestion - Dr Farrukh Saleem - Sunday, January 30, 2011

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Q: Why do revolutions take place?

A: The most popular theory is the Frustration-Aggression Theory according to which “revolutions occur when frustration leads to collective aggressive behaviour”. There also is the Disequilibrium Theory according to which revolutions take place because of an acute lack of equilibrium in the society – economic, social or political. The Marxist school of thought has the Interest-Group Social-Conflict Theory according to which a ‘revolution is a consequence of a power struggle between competing interest groups’.

Q: What are the three types of revolutions?

A: Socio-political, cultural and economic. More often than not, all three dimensions are merged whereby there is a fundamental change in all forms of power structures-socio-political, cultural as well as economic.

Q: What are the three prerequisites to a revolution?

A: A motivating ideology, a leader who symbolises that ideology and a critical mass of the population (that supports both the ideology and the leader).

Q: What is the common factor of almost all revolutions?

A: A drastic change in the way that a society thinks and behaves. The French Revolution replaced the monarchy with a radical democratic republic-and the French society’s thinking and behaviour went through a drastic change. The Islamic Revolution of Iran replaced a monarch with a vilayat-e-faqih – and the Iranian society will be the same never again (Grand Ayatollah Khomeini argued that the Iranian government had to be run in accordance with sharia and that could only happen if a faqih becomes the supreme leader).

Q: What was the role of the Imperial Iranian Army during the revolution?

A: The army did not protect the existing power structure (read: the Shah).

Q: What are the catalysts behind the ongoing Tunisian outbreak?

A: Corrupt politicians, unyielding poverty and joblessness.

Q: What has been the role of the Tunisian Armed Forces?

A: Tunisian Armed Forces have sided with the people and dumped the long-time president.

Q: Who is the leader behind the Tunisian strife?

A: Cyberspace, Facebook and Twitter in particular, were the tools for stirring revolutionary fervour followed by revolutionary mobilisation. A revolution without a leader is more chaos-cum-anarchy. In Tunisia, the guiding hand behind the scenes is General Rashid Ammar, the Chief of Staff of the Army.

Q: Are conditions ripe for a revolution in Pakistan?

A: Yes, there exists a motivating ideology – the sharia. Yes, there exists a critical mass that supports that ideology. But, there isn’t a leader on the horizon who symbolises that ideology.

Q: What can a government do to prevent a revolution?

A: There are only two known ways: reforms or repression.

Q: What is the probability of a revolution in Pakistan?

A: Likely but not inevitable. And, remember, ‘revolutions are not made; they come’.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email:

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