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Middle-class needed for revolution

delhi Updated: Aug 27, 2011 23:05 IST
anna hazare

Give us Hazare and take away our hazaroun (thousands) quips Faisal Qureshi, a popular TV host. By hazaroun, he says he is referring to the thousands of corrupt Pakistani leaders and decision makers. If there was a popularity contest, says another, Hazare would win hands down in Pakistan.

At the same time, many say they doubt whether Anna Hazare will make a difference in Pakistan. “Here they have no shame,” says local journalist Shamim Ur Rehman. The running joke in Pakistan is Anna Hazare would not have been able to make a difference because by fasting he would just be one of millions doing the same in the month of Ramazan.

Iftekhar Khan, a freelance columnist writing in The News, an English language daily, adds a new dimension. He says in his column that while the battle against corruption rages in both countries, the nature of the battle in each is different. In India it is social activism that is causing the upheaval while in Pakistan it is the Supreme Court.

There is also another comparison drawn — that of the two prime ministers. There are many admirers in Pakistan for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “The prime minister in Pakistan does everything to fend of the Supreme Court’s edicts against members of his family and his cronies,” says Iftekhar Khan.

There is another comparison. The crusader for anti-corruption in Pakistan is a man called Zafar Qureshi, who works for the Federal Investigation Agency, and has been sacked, transferred and suspended several times over by successive governments who accuse him of overstepping his responsibilities.But Qureshi continues to go after corrupt politicians and in this he has a new ally — the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which reinstates him every time he is sacked.

Now the government has resorted to desperate measures. There was a bomb threat at Qureshi’s office on the day he was to resume charge.

In an editorial in The News, it was pointed out that what is most impressive is that Anna Hazare has fired the imagination of the middle class. The same has not happened in Pakistan despite repeated attempts by people and parties to do this. The last time this happened was with the lawyers’ movement against President Musharraf.

Hazare has his supporters in the most unlikely of places. The right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami party says that the example set by Hazare must be followed in Pakistan. JI leader Naimatullah Khan told a Ramazan gathering: “What is happening in India thanks to Hazare should happen in Pakistan. We need to challenge the status quo.”

“It is the middle class that will bring revolution in any country, be it Egypt or be it India,” says Dr Arif Alvi, a provincial leader of the Tehreek-e-Insaf, the party of Imran Khan.