The two videos attached below – one of a student speaking at a student convention presided over by Gen. Pervez Musharraf and the second of an MNA speaking in the National Assembly during the no-trust motion against Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz – have recently been floating around over email on Pakistani lists.
[Thanks to Eidee Man for alerting us to this new version of the first video which includes Gen. Musharraf's Response to the student's speech. Even if you have seen the student's speech already, the response is worth listening to.]
While the remarks from Muslim League (N) MNA Khawaja Asif is less surprising (especially since it came right after Nawab Akbar Bugti’s death and during a no-confidence motion) the speech from the student (Syed Adnan Kakakhel) is much more of a surprise. Gen. Musharraf listens intently, takes notes, and seems engaged. Indeed, as you can now see from his response (later in the video) the speech certainly got to Gen. Musharraf. He responds at length – including on the military rule and Balochistan issues.
I should also add that this event was organized by the government itself and also note that Adnan Kakakhel was awarded the second prize in the speech contest and also that this was telecast over Pakistan Television.
Whether you are a government opponent (i.e., this shows the depth of people’s frustration with the current order), a cynic (i.e., such talk is tolerated because everyone knows it will make no difference), or a government supporter (i.e., this proves that this government has given people real democracy and freedom of speech), you should celebrate these videos for what they are: a demonstration that political thought is alive and well in Pakistan (irrespective of whether you believe its content to be righteous or misguided).
Coming from the bol ke lab aazad hain tairay school of democracy, to me the space for dissent is itself important to the democratic polity; for that reason alone I beleive that these are important articulations.