One could say without fear of contradiction that the word revolution has been indiscriminately used by political leaders and the leftist Marxists theorists in the twentieth century.

The deviation from original concept as enunciated by the French and American revolutions have been many and far-reaching. The situation was highlighted by the British philosopher, C.M. Joad, in his comment on Marxism, saying that Marxism is a hat that has lost its shape because everyone tries to wear it.

A large number of Asian countries, Pakistan included, flirted with Marxism and the accompanying idea of revolution, as they moved from a colonial status to independent states. This include Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Arab socialism! Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Islamic socialism, Ahmad Sukhorno’s continued revolution and India’s parliamentary socialism.

In Pakistan, the socialist movement, both literary and political, was ruthlessly suppressed by the ruling feudal elite in collaboration with religious orthodoxy and Western capitalism. However, the followers of socialism did not disappear from the scene altogether.

True, the party was banned, but individual workers continued to exist under fake titles and foreign patronage, while the secret services continued to harass progressive writers, journalists, political workers, etc. Interestingly, even in an atmosphere of freedom, the world revolution remained anathema with the Pakistani political elite.

Presently, the public and the new generation of politicians are using the word revolution in order to remove a corrupt government. Hence, when the chief of a religious movement, Minhajul Quran, arrived on the scene in January, the public starved of gas, water, electricity, fuel and the general supply of foodgrain, was ready to do anything to change the status quo.

The man, sounding like a brilliant Jama’at-i-Ahrar (now defunct) orator, convinced the public in a Lahore rally that the solution to their problem lies in a revolution, or by the use of force to remove the present government. The programme of revolution he declared would be a ‘long march’ from Lahore to Islamabad; and stay in Islamabad as long as the government did not quit.

Dr Tahirul Qadri, it appeared from his plans, had no idea of a revolution. This declared leader of Pakistani revolution commanded no troops; was not supported by any political organisation and was a complete loner. Still he was insisting that more than 400,000 citizens would participate in the long march. The turnout was estimated by neutral observers on the scene as not more than 50,000. As the political rallies go, it was still regarded as impressive, but not big enough to chase the government out of the capital city.

Addressing a group of long marchers as he entered Islamabad, Dr Qadri announced that at this point the long march had come to an end, and the revolution had commenced. His audience respected him more as a divine figure than a twentieth century politician devoid of spiritual and social values. If he was really concerned about the welfare of Pakistani citizens, it is asked, why did he abandon them and settled in a non-Muslim country? Dr Qadri has observed complete silence on this question. There is no answer. He cannot be left scot-free and must resolve the contradiction before claiming leadership of a Muslim nation.

The use of the word ‘revolution’ is common and popular with the new generation of Pakistani politicians. Historically, it is based on the achievements of the French Revolution and supposed to lend prestige to the declarations of radical movements. According to a South Asian politician: “The French Revolution was an amazing and ever-changing drama, full of extraordinary incidents that still fascinate us and horrify and thrill.”

Revolution, as described by the Western political thinkers, has its home in the field and street and the marketplace, and its methods are rough and coarse. Politics in a revolution cease to be the sport of wealthy and professional politicians. The makers of a revolution deal with realities and behind them are raw human nature and empty stomachs. It was the makers of the revolution in France, during the fateful four years from 1789 to 1794, who forced the hands of politicians to make them abolish feudalism and privileges of Church.

A historian of the French Revolution, describes the participants, by saying: “It is conflict of the barefooted. These ragged, barefooted people who, with improvised arms, rush to defend their revolution on the battlefield, and drive back the trained armies of a Europe united against them.”

These glimpses of French Revolution make one wonder how Dr Qadri, who carries his fancy mobile and container home with him wherever he goes, can endure the sufferings of a revolutionary in action. The experience of long march should make it clear to the barefooted masses that their leaders, perhaps, have an entirely different view of the revolution than of theirs.

The revolution of Dr Qadri lasted for four days while the French one, the original piece of mass rebellion, lasted for four years. The makers of revolution spent these four years in effecting the reforms, which radically changed the future history of France, one might say even that of the whole of Europe.

The long march and what Dr Qadri called revolution tied to that, did not make any change in the conduct of government. Unlike the French Revolution, the hated class structure was not even touched.

In his lengthy lectures, Dr Qadri had repeatedly underlined that he had come to the capital to destroy the rule of thieves and robbers, and vouched in the presence of thousands of citizens that he will not leave the place without the fulfilment of what he stood for.

Yet, he left Islamabad empty-handed without giving any solace to those thousands who had waited for happy news for four days, had nowhere to go to get food and catch sleep, or to answer the call of nature.

As if punished by the gods of revolution, they endured the biting cold of Islamabad in the pouring rain under an open sky. Those who had come to the capital to watch the glorious revolution returned home without achieving anything.

The so-called agreement between Dr Qadri and the government of Pakistan has, thus far, failed to provide any comfort to citizens in the vital sector of energy, gas, etc. They continue to suffer hardships, as they go to fetch edibles from the market.

The revolution, it seems, has been hijacked by the forces of reaction. Many believe that those who made the call for revolution were in league with the anti-people forces. The barefooted man has been betrayed again.

The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: hamidalvipk@yahoo.com