A sudden and surprising wave of discontent is raging through many countries during the past few months. In Hong Kong, it all started with a controversial extradition bill, in Chile with a raise in Metro fare by US four cents and in Lebanon imposition of tax on WhatsApp calls caused the fury. Iraq was the latest and bloodiest of all in this rage of discontent. With a difference of timeline, people took to the streets in Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Argentine, Ecuador, Haiti and Indonesia as well in addition to many other capitals around the world during this year.

Irrespective of the trigger points, poor governance, deteriorating economic wellbeing, widespread corruption, callousness of ruling elite and growing socioeconomic inequality are major themes of public unrest. Many of these countries are democratically ruled whereas most of others have autocratic governments. The frustration and anger is however common in both kinds of governing styles.

In Hong Kong, protests turned violent and have continued well beyond twenty two weeks. Beneath the extreme demands of protestors, a growing displeasure against massive in flow of mainland Chinese, poor and expensive housing and a startling economic inequality remained the undercurrent theme.

Chile was a poster development model country in South America. Statistics revealed remarkable fall in poverty incidence during last three decades. But sudden and shocking outcry against Metro fare increase engulfed the capital city San Diego and other cities instantly. Poor governance, corruption and resource capture by ruling elite were blamed for miseries of masses.

Lebanese ruling elite was shocked to see the suddenness and sheer mass of public on streets. Government hurriedly responded by taking back the tax on internet calls and reshuffling its cabinet along with promise of many reforms. It was a rare convergence among the protestors in a country which has ethnic and religious identities as main pillars of a fragile political structure.

Iraq has witnessed the bloodiest protests which shook the war torn country. People poured in huge numbers on streets demanding end of corruption, better governance, jobs, and an end to growing economic inequality. Protestors were dealt with brutal force causing over 200 lives and thousands as injured.

Corruption, poor governance and overstretch of ruling elite are common themes of discontent causing social and economic ripples across these countries. Two very significant dimensions of these protests are the instantaneousness and resilience to persist despite the brutal power and appeasing by the governments. Social media was witnessed as the common platform to communicate and allure the protestors. Another striking element was the overwhelming participation of youth; the millennials.

The eruption of mass protests and demonstrations might be shocking to the ruling elites but many social and economic experts have been warning since over a decade that ever growing social and economic disparities would blow back sooner or later.

Nobel laureate Joseph Stieglitz in his remarkable book The Price of Inequality explained that global economic system based on free market economy has inherent distortions. He summed up the irony of market based economies as; left to their own devices, markets are neither efficient nor stable and tend to accumulate money in the hands of the few rather than engender competition, producing slower growth and lower GDP. He argued in details that how political institutions, far from countering these trends, often enhance them.

Old forms of power structures and old guards of ruling elite are invariably marred with resource capture, economic and social rent seeking. But masses are increasingly becoming impatient for a fair social and economic system.

Traditional quick fixes may partially quell these discontents for the time being but unless global economic and social system adopts more equitable growth and fair governance structures, rage of discontents may keep coming back every now and then, here and there.

Pakistan marred with frequent boom and bust cycles, economic hardships of common man aggravated during last over a year have led to accumulation of a perfect socio economic storm in making. As if PTI Government’s own making of economic recipe was not enough; Stabilization Program of IMF has caused even harsher economic pains, higher inflation and increased unemployment. The snowball of discontent in Pakistan is not very different than Chile, Lebanon and other countries facing the public wrath rooted in poor economic management and governance.

No wonder a small party, JUI-F, with a narrow religious appeal and regional outfit has capitalized on the fault lines of economic governance and political stalemate to organize a countrywide march towards capital Islamabad. Ruling elite of the country has a defining moment at hand; adapt to the economic and governance challenges or face a long summer of discontent. Trigger point can be of any shape or size but its contours are familiar to what many countries are experiencing.