apital suggestion - Dr Farrukh Saleem - Sunday, March 06, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=34692&Cat=9

Dominoes are falling. Unrest is spreading. A change in Tunisia caused a similar change in Egypt. A change in Egypt is causing similar changes in Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, Algeria, Morocco and Oman. Cell phones and Twitter were instrumental in toppling Ben Ali. Social media fuelled protests eventually toppled Hosni Mubarak.

In December 2010, revolutionary change was some 6,000 km away from Islamabad (Tunis is 5,629 km from Islamabad). Revolutionary zeal, moving eastward, covered some 2,000 km in less than a month and by January 2011 Cairo had caught the virus. To be sure, revolutionary mobilisation did not stop at Cairo. From Cairo, it turned southeast somehow bypassed Saudi Arabia and landed in Sanaa. From Sanaa the bug spread to Bahrain and then to Oman. To be certain, Musqat, the Omani capital, is a mere 869 km from the shores of Karachi.

Since mid-December the germ that germinated some 6,000 km west of Islamabad is now threatening to consume Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the Sultan who himself consumed his father in order to capture the Omani throne. In that sense, revolutionary pollen is travelling eastwards and that too at a speed of 53 km per day.

Will the Pakistani unemployed youth be receptive to fertilisation? There are a hundred million cell phones in this country. Successful replication of the Middle Eastern germ depends on three elements: potential motivating ideologies, critical mass and leadership. In Pakistan, there can be at least three potential motivating ideologies – sharia, inflation and anti Americanism. In Tunisia, the critical mass was under 100,000. In Egypt, less than 250,000 brought Mubarak down. In Tunisia, street protests sustained over 28 days brought Ben Ali down. In Egypt, it took 18 days.

It all begins with individual frustration which over time produces collective aggression. The temperature in the Pakistani tandoor is now approaching 1,000 degree Fahrenheit. Imran Khan Niazi, the cricketing legend with a severe identity crisis, is bent upon baking his kulcha (flatbread) ahead of Mian Nawaz Sharif, the conservative, two-time PM whose terms were shortened by Pak Army.

Mian Shahbaz Sharif, the talented younger brother, in the meanwhile, is busy proving his mantle albeit under a very difficult environment. Shahbaz, the lone politician actually fighting against corruption, does seem to have both a vision and a plan. But, does he have the team?

Then there is our military establishment, a fierce contender in this cruel game of power. Change is in the air. Hope the change remains within constitutional parameters. The revolutionary bug has so far spread over seven million square km with 200 million affectees. Will the eastwardly driven revolutionary pollination pollinate unemployed Pakistani youth? Well, that depends on the flower, the vector and the speed of the wind. Will it be a breeze, a gale, a storm, tornado or a hurricane? Or, would the revolutionary flotilla bypass Pakistan altogether?

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email: farrukh15@hotmail.com

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