For Pakistan, the choices are limited; it is either adherence to the constitution or face a bloody revolution. The 20th century was shaped by three major uprisings (Bolshevik 1917, Chinese 1949, Iranian 1979). While the Soviet Union collapsed after 77 years yet the comrades gather every year at the Red Square on November 7 to celebrate their struggle that changed the universe. Chinese revolution remains on course as the People’s Republic is poised to dominate the world as a superpower. The Islamic Republic of Iran is also ready to take off once the progressives take charge.

It is widely believed that revolutions do not take place in democratic countries. Rule of law and adherence to the constitution ensures level playing fields for all. Hopelessness leads to resistance which results in an uprising. That is why democracy is considered to be most effective form of running a state. Participation and service to the people are important considerations in a democratic dispensation.

On August 14, 1973 Pakistan achieved the status of a constitutional democracy. For any country a constitution is a vital document as it is an agreement between the rulers and the ruled. Violators should be punished under the law. In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, constitution making has not been easy. The exercise has been repeated four times. The 1956 version was unilaterally abrogated in 1958 to be replaced by a person centric document in 1962. After the first dictator was made to resign in 1969, his unilateral contraption went out the window with him. On the breakup of Quaid’s Pakistan an interim constitution was passed by the elected house in 1972 which was then followed by the unanimous 1973 constitutional document.

Though Ayub Khan tried to sell his take over as an October revolution but he did not succeed. It is the Nov, 7, 1968 uprising against his dictatorship that is revered as an attempt to a revolutionary change. In the 1970 free and fair elections the progressives fared well. Bhutto emerged as a leader after the fall of the dictator. The 1973 constitution is a gift of this democratic era that was short lived. Zia’s martial law in July 1977 derailed the entire process. While Musharraf is being tried under Article-6 of the constitution, Zia escaped justice. His left overs continue to operate in the political arena till today.

Pakistan has had its share of attempted revolutions which did not see the light of day. Two events stand out, the ‘Pindi Conspiracy Case’ as it was called, was a bold attempt to dismantle the colonial yoke. Generals, writers and intellectuals were arrested and tried. Revolutionary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz was also imprisoned for sedation. Then the November 07, 1968 uprising against the dictator jelled all the progressives. Students and Labour Unions played an important role. Slogans like ‘East is Red’ emerged all over. In the absence of ‘Revolutionary Leadership’ the status-quo survived. Between 1977 to 2017, ten manipulated ballots and constitution bashing was carried out. Finally the last elections of July 2018 have raised hopes of the nation. The elected and popular Prime Minister has recently concluded his tour of China.

Habib Jalib the revolutionary poet talked about the ‘Chinese System’ (Nizam-e-Hukumat). Kaptaan is also impressed with the progress of the People’s Republic. His talks about ‘Riyasat-e-Madina’ the first welfare state of the world. The ‘Think Tanks’ of PTI have already deliberated on the concept of such a state. It is time to reveal the road map for converting the Islamic Republic of Pakistan into a true republic where every citizen is catered for, like our Chinese brethren have been able to achieve.

In the words of Jalib, the dictators considered the citizens of Pakistan to be ‘Donkeys’ who could be harnessed at will. He was imprisoned during the terms of both Ayub Khan and Zia-ul-Haq. His dissent continued till his death but his ideas live on. Even Shahbaz Sharif the self-proclaimed ‘Khadim-e-Aal’ recited his poetry to gain notoriety.

The 1977 Pakistan National Alliance Movement ( PNA ) movement in the country was retrogressive whose ill-effects are being felt till to date. It did not stop here; the progressives who survived were then rounded up and imprisoned in the dungeons of the Lahore Fort. Today the entire progressive leadership and thought is in disarray. A fresh start can be made with the help of our ‘Iron Brothers’. Their ‘think tanks’ can assist our policy makers. In metal to metal contact dissimilarities can be harmful. Iron has to be matched with Iron otherwise corrosion takes place. Now that our inadequacies are being exposed and the Chinese competence is becoming evident, it is time for major reorientation of our approach. Democracy, constitution and rule of law can take us forward provided the course is adopted and followed in letter and spirit. If not then revolution will remain our only course. November 07 is an important day in the history of revolutions. The students and progressives got together in 1968 to topple the first dictator of Pakistan, while the first revolution of 20th century was started in 1917 on the same day that overran the powerful Czar kingdom of Russia.

Progressives of the country must unite to deliver the much needed change in the retrogressive Republic of Pakistan, as a nation it remains our only hope.


The writer is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation.