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Please take the revolution off my front lawn

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The government, as it happens, has more rights to safeguard than only your ‘right to protest’; there’s also, what’s technically known as “the rest of the country” to cater for, and to ensure its political stability, security and general well-being.

HunzaNews, Aug 16,2014

With the PTI and PAT having descended upon the country’s capital, that fact has become far too easy to overlook in the midst of boiling passions.

You have a right to protest. Lovely. I wish you all the fruits that a functional democracy (not technocracy or mob rule) has to offer. Yes, democracy, which many of the protesters now ironically scoff at, and don’t see what the big deal is about.

In the meantime, I have a right to conduct my business as usual.

A shopkeeper in Gujranwala has a right to not have a mob imposing itself on his street, spooking his customers and blocking his supplies.

A homeowner in Islamabad would prefer not to have revolutionaries camping on his front lawn, littering the roads, violating the prized serenity of his neighbourhood, and in all likelihood, vandalising it.

Read on: PTI, PAT marchers in Islamabad: Qadri says ‘revolution’ won’t take much longer

Though, I would never stand for violence against the demonstrators, it is not inconceivable for the government — any government — to hinder their mass influx into a city, no less the capital city of Pakistan. And mind you, that’s not the same as ‘banning’ a citizen from walking up to the protest site with a large sign in his hands, and a catchy, rhyming slogan on his tongue.

Having been personally inconvenienced on more than one occasion by the containers blocking major streets and arteries into the capital (I live in Rawalpindi, and work in Islamabad), I still acknowledge their need. Moreover, I acknowledge that at the risk of being harangued by PTI’s online presence!

But it is also among a government’s responsibilities to non-violently resist its own unconstitutional dismantling. A democratic government, after all, is one which the nation has generally agreed upon, unless definitively proven otherwise by the independent judiciary (not Khan’s own worthy judgement). Therefore, one mass, however sizeable it is, cannot be allowed overturn that grand consensus or cripple its functioning or infrastructure.

Also read: Marches keep capital on tenterhooks

Containers don’t bite, and the trenches are probably not teeming with snakes. Government officials don’t shoot flaming arrows at the marching protesters from their castle’s parapets; I believe they could be forgiven for trying to impede hundreds of thousands of people from pouring at once into Islamabad, posing significant security threats to the city, as well as to themselves.

I do empathise with the protesters; their disillusionment with the way things are, and the desire to shake up the system for the better. The embryonic democracy is noticeably imperfect.

But change does not always come through destruction and turbulence.

The system should be made to gradually evolve through democratic selection; through parliamentary procedure, and not weekly revolutions.

www.dawn.com/

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