Two Streams Flowing Together in Islamabad: Impressions about Sit-Ins


It is indeed amazing site to see two different streams flowing together in Pakistan’s capital city for the last eleven days. Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tahreek are two different ideologies that have led their different demands in their distinct ways for the last Eleven days. This seems to be a change in the political history of Pakistan as two different streams have shown acceptance and tolerance for each other despite differences of opinion and ideologies. It is also worth mentioning that despite mounting tensions with the government no case of violence has been reported till now. It is a positive change of peaceful protest culture in Pakistani politics.
It is indeed the beauty of democracy though fragile in Pakistan due to multiple factors that the people of the country have started participating in the democratic system with their effective voice. PAT & PTI should be appreciated for their role in raising awareness against the wrongdoings of the political elite. Their one goal seems to be common that is voice and accountability. Both parties have re-engaged the society at a larger level. PAT & PTI have brought in people from all strata of the society. PTI may be appreciated for bringing the elite into the sit-ins. One can barely see the participation of gentry specially youth (male and female) who have never been to such public meetings/gathering where the problems of the common people are not only discussed but can also be felt under the scorching heat where no air conditioning is available. It might not be an important factor for many that how the elite’s participation would affect the marches or such political movements but we could see a change drifting its way though. Imran Khan has been phenomenally successful in mobilizing the upper class of the country for the problems of common people. An unaware person will never understand the problems of a common people till he or she experiences what the poor go through every single day. So moderately speaking IK has been fortunate to let the elite experience woes of a common Pakistanis by taking them out of their comfortable life for some time. It is a positive development in a country like Pakistan where the elite has been indifferent to the needs of the people. Elite’s participation in IK protests may be labelled by few as cosmetic and mere pump and show but believer’s in a dream view it as a drop of new change.
Both parties have been labelled with multiple objection like making the capital city hostage for the last so many days.Thus causing great economic, social and political loss to the country. These claims are some how true. Due to these sit-ins country has suffered innumerable economic losses. There are cautious estimates of Rs 150b per day loss to economy due to PTI, PAT sit-ins. The twin cities (Rawalpindi-Islamabad) have been paralyzed due to the political turmoil in an adverse manner. People are facing great problems in commuting across the two cities due to blockades by placing containers.Thus going for jobs, schools and all other businesses have become very difficult and challenging. Prices of the basic commodities have risen up as supply and demand balance has been disturbed due to closure of all entry points into the twin cities. The twin cities especially Islamabad seems to be a container walled city.
From a closer look at the two political parties their sit-in style is different and distinct from different aspects. As said earlier the former one is more liberal in its out look with introduction of songs, dances and effective use of social media as new sources of communication in Pakistani Political discourse.The later one is a religious party with a different style of religiously motivated speeches and Qawali(Sufi devotional music popular in South Asia)and Dhamal(Sufi trance dance) to charge its workers.
There is also visible difference in the discipline and organisation of the both parties. PAT workers seem to be more organised as compared to PTI. As they remain at the place of sit-in most of the time with performing multiple duties for their co-workers. It has also been observed that the strength in the PTI sit-in’s usually get improved during the evenings just like a sudden surge and the it recedes during the day time. Government has bitterly criticised the sit-ins through media calling them intruders in the smooth functioning of democratic system. There protesters have been accused of misbehaiviour with police. There are around forty thousand policemen on duty for the sit-ins called from Punjab police, AJK Police and GB Police.There are all other law enforcement agencies who are busy monitoring the mob.The police behavior is really appreciative towards the protesters. The marchers are showing their respect for the police. PTI’s women workers showered rose petals on policemen on duty when they entered the red zone. It was an amazing site to see the police for public service in Islamabad for the first time in political marches where there were greater chances of conflict due to the escalating tensions between the government and the protesting political parties.

There was no Women participation in both parties is significant and encouraging. PAT & PTI has given visible participation to women in their political struggle.One can witness women at large in both sit-ins along with their families. It would not be wrong to say that both parties have involved the larger portion of population that has been ignored and discriminated in Pakistani politics since independence. It is an important and welcoming move by the both political parties. Women have always played a significant role in the progress and development of Pakistan.Their active participation in politics will help in resolving many problems of the country. Everything has a price. For attaining something greater every nation has to pay some price. It is high time for Pakistan that through these political transformations we should learn some new good lessons of peace and hope.

Athar Rashid

Athar Rashid is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of English Language, Literature & Applied Linguistics at the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad, Pakistan. He is also PhD scholar in Governance. 

  4 comments for “Two Streams Flowing Together in Islamabad: Impressions about Sit-Ins

    August 27, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    I cannot agree more on the participation of women and elite class in the sit-ins which has changed the dynamics of Political gatherings. The economical loss is not an issue as what the country achieved in the last fourteen months apart from loans from IMF and vice versa. How the dollar depleted that’s not an undercover story. I would conclude by marking that whatever both are doing, they are fighting the paroah’s of Pakistan. Do you think if such Model town carnage has happened in Europe or America then the rulers would have affected the process of FIR? OVERALL WRITTEN WELL..

    • Athar
      August 28, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      Thank you Muddassir for your valuable feedback. I agree with your thoughts that the struggle is against the corrupt system of the country and it is an appreciable step by both parties to raise their voice against the wrong.Human loss is the greatest loss indeed and all response must be held accountable at any cost.Justice delayed is justice denied

    nazish ali
    September 18, 2014 at 9:52 am

    sir i agree to your writing, as u said forty thousand Punjab police officers have been called to control the situation this disturbed the system of 27 educational institutes in the capital of a developing country……whereas at the present situation of our state, even 2 days off in a week are not acceptable in my personal opinion… we have to work really hard to make it a developed country.
    Another point on which i always worry about is if once the demands of these two political parties are fulfilled…..a time might come when these two parties would be in power they’ll forget about their prime goals as the previous political parties did then what’s gonna happen??? as it is said ‘NAIK WO HAI JISAY MOKA NAHEN MILA’ so apparently PAT and PTI seems to be saints but what’s the reality u never know.

  3. Athar Rashid
    September 19, 2014 at 5:05 am

    Thanks Nazish for your feedback.Yes you are right this has been our history that we forget our promises.It is also a fact that we have suffered a lot as a nation due to political upheavals.Things are evolving in Pakistan one can hope for the best and strive for the true democracy in the country.

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