Conversation at Eid unusually focused on current events, with the floods foremost. The plight of flood victims, it seems, is being blamed squarely on the government, and the calls of a revolution can only be related to the severity of the floods. The floods have wreaked much destruction, and caused much human suffering, but they have served the political purpose of showing not just the inabilities and insufficiencies of the present government, but of the very system in which they exist. There is talk of revolution because there is not the confidence that the normal political process will provide the means necessary and sufficient to bring about the change that is required. The political actors might argue that there is too much being expected of them. The system of democracy is not being seen as defective because Pakistanis lack democratic attitudes (as neo-colonialist an argument as can be made), but because the system of democracy is itself flawed. The example of Pakistans floods follows the USAs reaction to Hurricane Katrina, in which it seemed the federal government allowed racial considerations to influence how its help went. However, in the home of democracy, which it has now spread all over the world, the racially biased reaction to Hurricane Katrina was not just based on election dynamics, but was because the American polity is more divided by race than Pakistan is by sectarianism, or any other cause. However, Katrina did not cause the mass soul-searching that the floods seem to have in Pakistan, perhaps because people in the US have not got as apparent an alternative as people in Pakistan. People in Pakistan look to Islam, unlike people in the USA. Also, Pakistanis are not just less committed to a democracy that has been imported, but are also still holding on to Islam. That does not mean they look to the ulema for political leadership, but it does mean that they are much more critical of the system than before, and do not judge it only by its own standards. The revolutionary tradition in Pakistan is more said than done, for this part of the world did not even rebel in 1857, and indeed the Punjab played a significant role in ending the mutiny. It was after that that the British began to look kindly upon the Sikhs, whose recent absorption into the Indian Empire made them disinclined to give it up so soon. The Raj propounded the inability of the people of the region rebelling, completely ignoring the experience of the mutiny, in which the very soldiers recruited from the ranks of the natives had made common cause with the local rulers to try and remove the British. The Russian Revolution of 1905 and the two of 1917 proved more of a fillip for Indian Independence than the original Revolution of France of 1789, for the Russian Revolution, among many other things, meant a change in personnel of the Great Game. However, the Pakistan of today demands a change from the absolutist rule practised by the British Raj, inherited from their Mughal predecessors and passed on to their Indian and Pakistani successors. The talk of revolution is owed to the fact that the present political system does not offer any prospect of that change. Pakistanis are not inclined towards violent revolution, so those forces which would work against revolution now would not do so. When the forces behind the status quo are ready to risk the change that revolution would bring, the existing order is in trouble. People are no longer interested in a change of face, unless there is a change of system. That too is another factor leading towards a revolution, rather than peaceful change. That brings up the announced Quran burning once again, for the apparent failure of the Pakistani state (despite manful efforts) to play any role in the affair, produced only negative effects for the Pakistani nation. The Quran burning was virtually an example of what its people wanted Pakistan for, to be strong enough to stop it. However, one of the rewards of the participation in the war on terror seems to be an increase in Western desecration, all over supposed freedom of speech issues. Not just Pakistan, but the entire Muslim world is being taught to be tolerant of blasphemy. One of the things that a revolution in Pakistan would have to mean is change in the present policy of subservience to the US. One of the things it would have to do would be to withdraw from the war on terror. This would create a very strong pressure from the US for a form of regime that would preserve the existing order. To take the example of Russia, in 1905 the revolution brought forward Stolypin, and in 1917, it was Kerensky who came in March. Iran saw the Shah make a last desperate attempt with Shahpour Bakhtiar. Even in France there is the pre-revolutionary figure of Turgot, but he had resigned as controller-general of finances, had indeed died, well before the revolution. Still, like Kerensky and Bakhtiar, he was someone who did not see the state as referable without major changes, and did not shrink from the opportunity to save the system. As Pakistan has not had a Turgot, its Kerensky lies in the future, but there will be someone, and probably someone presently enjoying a good reputation among both westerners and a section of the populace; someone like Imran Khan, in short. A revolution here would also represent the first time that democracy was replaced by revolution. Though democracy in Pakistan has been ousted, this has been done by the military, but a revolution, never. And that too an anti-Western, and, most likely, an Islamic Revolution. Any revolution here would have to be Islamic, because Islam provides the only possible ideology that can oppose Western capitalism. Indeed, that is why the West is trying to crush it through the war on terror being fought by its leader and its allies, on Muslim soil, because it realises that after the fall of the USSR and the consequent demise of communism, the main enemy in ideological terms will be Islam. However, a revolution would waste all of that effort, because one of the main thrusts of capitalism is that Islam cannot be implemented in the modern age. The modern age is supposed to be reserved for capitalism, its dominant ideology, especially after the fall of the USSR, and all other ideologies are supposed to disappear, or become thinly disguised forms of capitalism, as Christianity has already become, as well as Hinduism, which is the last remnant of the old paganism. Hinduism is seen as an ally by the West, which is why it is being given so much importance in a region where Islam (which dominates Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan) meets Hinduism. If at all an Islamic Revolution comes to Pakistan, and despite all the talk it is by no means a certainty, it will be because the ruling class obeyed the US too much, and in turn it was too demanding in its vain search for victory. However, the government should not, now, think about saving itself. But about saving the order as it exists. The political class should not be looking at the examples set by Kerensky or Bakhtiar, because such power is very short-lived, even more than political power under democracy. Email: maniazi@nation.com.pk