Democracy in Action?

Posted on October 16, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Politics
115 Comments
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Adil Najam

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.]


One could quibble with the style as well as the substance of each. There are elements of the political message in both that I, at least, do not subscribe to. Yet, each is worth watching because each raises timely and pertinent questions that we should think about; whether we agree with the content or not.

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.

115 responses to “Democracy in Action?”

  1. lubna says:

    We all should realize that we are under the subjugation of our own army.
    It used to be our army but not any more and is acting as a foriegn army tookover our land

    1-soldiers are raping woman (dr shazia cas–the issue was hushed up as dr was not our citizen)

    2- They are capturing all civilian jobs and contracts.Look the way now they are planning to refurbish the school buildings

    3-They are doing intellegience of all citizens and govt employees as we all are thieves and traitors except those who are helping them

    4-Capturing all resources and lands from civilians. Baloch issue is the issue for land for army
    destroying all civilian institutions

    Foreign army might be doing more by some percentqge but atleast they would give something back to us.This army is not even protecting our borders as they are afraid from war–look what is happening on afghan border
    The sooner we realize the situation the more it would be better. We should support the civil society

    GOD bless this nation courage to dismntle this army and build an other one who knows the respect and will of their will

    God bless all of us-we all have to die but we have to leave something good for our generation

    Salute to CJ AND LAWYERS

  2. Saad says:

    You forgot to add certain action sequences in the above chain of events.. e.g. ISI and MI chiefs sitting in the same room as the CJ of Pakistan to harass him and his driver getting thrashed by MI cadres.

  3. Pakistani says:

    FICTION: (All characters are fictional in this coversation and author is nor responsible for any similarities which the real life)

    Shoki: Sir Ifti has made my life very difficult. He wants to investigate stock market crisis, has annulled the steel mill privatisation and as you know asking too many questions about missing persons
    Mushi: Well you are pm, do what you have to do within law…
    Shoki: sir, I understand we can gather some evidence on his misconduct and perhaps file a reference.
    Mushi: okay.. bring it on then and I will have a look.

    Few weeks later

    Shoki: sir.. here is evidence
    Mushi: it looks interesting… but is it enough.. is it admittable in court.
    Shoki: sir i have checked with lawyers… wz says the case is solid.
    Mushi: have u run it through pirzada
    Shoki: there is no need and it will create a lot of hue and cry.
    Mushi: okay… so summon ifti then

    Camp Office:
    Mushi: Ifti thank you for coming… I want to share something with you.. have a look
    Ifti: Sir… it is not correct.
    Mushi: well you can see the evidence… you have two hours to go through it…. you know the best course of action.

    two hours later:

    Mushi: so what have you decided?
    Ifti: Sir….i dont agree with it.. this is a smear campaign… none of it is true….
    Mushi: So you are saying the evidence is not correct.
    Ifti: Sir.. I am saying that a number of these things mentioned are part of my positions previlege. It is very normal and has been done in the past by others in my position.
    Mushi: .. i disagree I am referrring the matter to the council.. you can resign and this can end here.
    Ifti:… trembling…no way.. I will not resign
    Mushi:……. are you sure..
    Ifti:… still trembling but unbudging…no sir i cannot.

    Mushi….. okay.. you wait outside.
    … calls shoki and tells the situation.

    Shoki: sir no worries… we can get the acting sworn-in while ifti stays at your place.
    Mushi: are you sure its under the law.
    Shoki… ofcourse wz has confirmed it.
    Mushi: okay…. go ahead

    Shoki: Sir bd is outside… i propose making ji as acting as he can be groomed
    Mushi: okay then do it.
    Shoki: okay sir

    .. End of story….

    Tailpiece: what happened next is an open story and a legend which mother tell their sons and daughters… some say it happened many years ago in a distant country where people finally broke the web of big boots over their lives and destiny but most agree it is just a legend

  4. moazzam raza tabassam says:

    …..NOT DEMOCRACY BUT TALBAN IN ACTION…..
    Students of Local madrassa jamiah Hifsa of islamabad started talban style moment in capital day before yester day. On monday a group of Male and female students of madrassa Hifsa raded a Lady shamim house in G-6 sector and blamed her for unislamic bussiness and warrand her. this group also raded in abpara and warraned shop keeper for s selling music and movies cds and unislamic dresses. very next on tuseday these students again wemt to lady shamim,sealed house and brought her forcly in madrassa hifsa. these local madrassa talban also visited meloday and abpara markets and warrned shopkeeper for unislamic bussiness. the administration of Madrassa hifsa also set up a tele phone help line for unislamic bussiness complaints. the administration of Madrssa also annoced for lanching a FM station , named Voice of Allah o Akber. this all happening in area hardly 2 kilometer from president house in capital. IS THIS RESULT OF “HAQEEQI JUMHOORIAT”?

  5. Daktar says:

    Remember this video. Maybe we should.

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