Bullies at the gate By Sameer A. Siddiqui - Sunday, March 06, 2011

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/06/bullies-at-the-gate.html

A BULLY comes in various forms. From an overgrown schoolboy who throws his weight around among smaller children in his class, to a dictator who rules his country with an iron fist for three decades, to the managing director of a national airline who is accused of making destructive deals to benefit his own self, to a superpower who threatens a sovereign nation with dire consequences unless one of its citizens is handed over without due process for killings in the country.

But a bully of any nature has to ultimately bow before a sustained and steadfast stance taken by his victims.

This happens regardless of whether he is a seemingly innocuous child who has hit puberty earlier than his companions; or if it is ex-president Hosni Mubarak who once wielded total control in Egypt; or if he is Ejaz Haroon, ex-chief of PIA who considered himself infallible being a close confidant of the Pakistani power-brokers; or whether the bully is mighty US government standing over a smaller Pakistan, pressuring it to hand over a mysterious Raymond Davis.

The most recent and publicised stance taken by a group of people against a bully is that of the Egyptian people. Taking the torch from the Tunisians, they peacefully forced out an entrenched president who had come to be as much a part of the Egyptian landscape as the Sphinx.

They emphatically showed to other dictators that a worthwhile cause can unite people to achieve the unthinkable.

They also shocked the western world that a regime change movement in a Muslim country, by the local populace, had the legs to stand on its own without being dependent on the crutches of an outside government that really had its own interest at heart.

But most importantly, the Egyptians and Tunisians set a pivotal precedent. In a judicial system, once a precedent has been set, subsequent cases within the same category can follow its example. The masses in many Middle Eastern countries now have an example in Egypt where common people, simply with their sheer will, were able to stand tall in a single square and write their destiny.

Additionally, a second precedent is that the western world was not needed for a regime change this time; it occurred organically from within.

With all its fanfare, a democratically elected government, especially in the Muslim world, is the last thing the West wants.

Case in point is the ire of the US at Pakistan’s democratically elected government following its laws to bring to justice an American national who killed two Pakistani youths. Raymond Davis killed two Pakistani citizens with alarming accuracy, reportedly killing one of them from a distance of 50 feet in the back while he ran away from his assailant.

Whether this American is guilty or not should be a matter for the courts to decide. However, the US is keen for Pakistan to hand over its citizen bypassing the Pakistani judicial system. The sole superpower appears to be over-extending the Vienna Conventions to declare that their ‘diplomat’ has immunity, a ‘licence to kill’ to do his job properly.

With the amount of pressure being applied from all quarters in the US, it was assumed that the Pakistani government would do the expected and Davis would be in the land of plenty before long. But the tide seems to have turned, for now.

Media scrutiny and immense public pressure from within seems to have countered the opposite pressure from America. The Pakistani government, perhaps scared of the precedent in Egypt, has retracted its earlier statements and has found the legs to stand up to the Americans. But not before their foreign minister was sacrificed at the altar of political expediency and PPP secretary information, Ms Fauzia Wahab, put her foot in her mouth arguing unabashedly in favour of immunity for the foreign diplomat regardless of his murderous rampage.

One only hopes she can be as convincing in front of Hillary Clinton to persuade her that foreign diplomats in US should have immunity from paying parking tickets.

From parking tickets to airline tickets: the case of PIA workers rising in unison against the allegedly corrupt Mr Ejaz Haroon and forcing him to resign definitely boosts one’s spirits. While it is true that the strike was highly inconvenient for passengers, short of a complete shutdown, nothing else could have removed the czar of the bleeding airline. He tried to hold on as long as possible but realised that his lofty position was being shaken by the common people of his airline. He finally left after a last-ditch effort to use a police contingent to batter protesters failed to shake the people’s resolve.

Although another crony of the powers that be may take his place, a precedent has been set in Karachi similar to the one in Cairo: power of the people united behind a cause is able to make molehills out of mountains. Once again, there was no single leader who motivated the people. A sense of being right united the common people to achieve success.

It is never easy to stand up to a bully, in fact; it can be downright scary. But a strong belief that one is fighting for the right cause gives strength to the weakest of fighters and that is when even a superpower may have to bow out of the fight. This united and unflinching stand is what keeps the bullies at bay, outside the gates.


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