The great thing about so many people living below the poverty line is that if there is street fighting between the rich and the poor, the poor will win,” a sixteen-year-old boy told his friends at a refugee camp in Bannu. He is among 600,000 other men, women and children who have recently fled their homes in North Waziristan amidst a military offensive against the Taliban. But he insists that the humanitarian crisis should not be allowed to divert the nation’s attention from a decisive battle between police and protesters in the streets of Islamabad.

A research published by a local think tank shows that for every person who had to leave their home and belongings because of the operation and face the cruel July weather of Bannu, there were 13 in various cities of Punjab who were in severe agony because none of the recent threatening speeches and provocative press statements had translated into any real combat on the streets. “All the action is taking place in FATA,” said one television viewer. “The people of Punjab have not been given an opportunity to battle for the survival of Pakistan.”

The refugees are not oblivious to their privilege. They have asked the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to focus their energies on the showdown in Islamabad planned for August 14.

“We really did not mean to hassle the provincial government,” a tribal elder reiterated. “We do not require any significant attention. Our sufferings and the sacrifices of the soldiers fighting the militants are nothing compared to the various agitation movements being planned by the various opposition groups.” He urged famous politician Sheikh Rashid to speak to the politicians concerned to ensure a timely arrival of the revolution that he has been promising the people of Pakistan for the last five years.

“When you walk out on the street these days, you see these policemen standing down the road minding their own business – neither firing at protesters to kill them, nor being stripped and beaten up by people carrying batons with nails,” one student activist said. Most people stay indoors while fasting in summer. “There are no Imran Khan rallies coming soon either. There’s practically nothing to do to serve our country this month.”

He rejected allegations that he wanted violence. “All I am saying is that perhaps there should be a speech or two in which someone warns the government of an uprising, and vividly explains which streets they will be dragged in after the people cut open their stomach to take out the money that they have allegedly stolen,” he explained. “Is that too much to expect? I am not saying they should actually explain to us how that revolution will come about and with what mechanism it will fulfill its promises.”

Political scientists believe that elaborate plans on what kind of system will replace the government, are not needed beforehand.

“If you look at Syria, for example, you will notice how the first and the most important step is to begin a battle against the government,” one expert explained. “The problem of Islamic militants taking advantage of the power vacuum does not emerge until a year or two later.”

However, the question about whether it will be possible for the opposition parties to bring the government down to its knees is not an easy one. A correct analysis of the outcome of these protests requires a keen insight into such matters. “I can see a number of consequences,” a tarot card reader said. “They might be able to pressure the government to resign. But the cards also suggest that there is some likelihood that this might not happen.”

Regardless of the outcome, a young leftist political worker told this scribe that a clash between the workers and the capitalists was now inevitable. He is among the first to reject capitalist oppression. “I have experienced it first hand and know the suffering. My own father was an industrialist.”

While dealing with his father in the house, he said he learned how these people have complete control over money supply, means of transportation, and the education sector. “He would constantly subject me to verbal abuse and psychological pressure asking me where I spent his money, denying me the keys to some of his cars, and asking me about my grades at inappropriate times.”

Despite their varying political agendas, opposition parties agree on one thing, according to a source privy to the developments. “While the military is fighting our battle in FATA, we should fight its battle in Islamabad.”

The author has a degree in Poetics of Prophetic Discourse and works as a Senior Paradigm Officer.

harris@nyu.edu

@cyborgasms