Lava bubbling below the surface, warns Pak daily

There is "a lava bubbling under the surface" in Pakistan, said an editorial in a Pakistani daily as it commented on the political upheaval in Tunisia and Egypt.

Last Updated: Feb 01, 2011, 15:35 PM IST

Islamabad: There is "a lava bubbling under the surface" in Pakistan, said an editorial in a Pakistani daily as it commented on the political upheaval in Tunisia and Egypt.

"Pakistan`s history of incompetent democratic regimes and dictatorial military governments has left the people with few choices," an editorial in the Daily Times Tuesday said.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, it said, has tried to counter the political rhetoric that Pakistan could face a Tunisia and Egypt-like situation by saying that the country has a functioning democracy and strong institutions.

"Tunisia and Egypt have been heaving under the yoke of decades-long dictatorships, and saw a spontaneous outpouring of public anger sparked by a small incident in Tunisia, which eventually forced Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee... Soon after the flight of Ben Ali, the virus of popular revolt travelled to other parts of the Arab world, where the masses are rising and protesting against autocratic regimes."

"The way the protests broke out and spread to Jordan, Algeria, and even to Yemen, is intriguing. It is notoriously difficult to predict when the patience of the masses will run out and they will revolt against their oppressors," it said.

Commenting on the uprising in Tunisia and Egypt, the editorial said there are moments in history "when a combination of factors, sentiments and circumstances trigger such events", which can change the old order.

"Although the historical trajectory in Tunisia and Egypt, which led to a popular revolt, is very different from that of Pakistan, nevertheless, there is a lava bubbling under the surface here too due to the failure of successive regimes to ensure the provision of even the basic necessities of life to the larger segment of society," the editorial said.

"Pakistan`s history of incompetent democratic regimes and dictatorial military governments has left the people with few choices," it grimly reminded the nation.

Sounding a warning, the editorial said: "A rudderless, directionless people who reposed their trust in democratic governments have been disappointed so far. Therefore, the raw material for a revolt is very much there."

"Can an ostensibly democratic government prevent that lava of resentment and anger from erupting?" it wondered.

It went on to say that one should "in any case be cautious in dismissing the possibility of a movement of the people in Pakistan".

"There is another dimension to the situation here, which could be the cause of great concern. After four decades of nurturing of jihadis and extremists, any popular revolt will be at risk of being hijacked by extremist forces..."

"In these circumstances, the people of Pakistan have the sorry option between an inept and corrupt political leadership and the entire spectrum of right-wing forces from centre-right to extreme right."

The editorial wrapped up saying: "The decline of the liberal, democratic and progressive community is at the heart of this crisis. Unless these forces strengthen their cadre, induct fresh blood into their ranks and mount a challenge to the extremists, Pakistan has little hope of salvation."

IANS