Op-ed

The Sit-In Culture

Khurram Aniq Ahmed Khan
The latest sit-in in Islamabad has reached what the last three sit-ins were incapable to triumph. This accomplishment would not be possible without the experience of previous sit-ins, demanding something from government through sit-ins has now become a tradition in Pakistan. Sit-in is terrorism without gun power. It’s like using the energy of democracy against it. Pakistan sit-ins have an odd system; it feels like any party with 25000 people can block the capital of the country for completion of their demands.

Sit-in and terrorism are substitutes of each other in Pakistan. Same as terrorists, activists hold a place for some hours or days. In Pakistan, it has become a very prevalent thing in the previous some years. We witnessed some sit-ins in the country where blockage of Islamabad consequences in blockage of whole country. Every time country faced such situation, government failed to handle situation each and every time. In democracy, such protests have moral value. Whatever the spectators of the protest, they cannot take constitutional rights of the government to make policies of govern a country.

Recently, in the protest of Tehreek-e-Labaik, our government fell to their feet while limiting them. Ultimately, they decided to snoop to their demands and pleased them too. This gave a negative impact of the government that anyone can demand anything from them anytime on the basis of supremacy or by blocking a city you can say.

There are also many peaceful protests in the history. Back in the year 2003, protest in the streets on London against Iraq and biggest protest with two million campaigners on roads of Rome. However, the government in Europe refused to listen to them and sent them back. Pakistan is no stranger to peaceful protests. Perhaps, Pakistan is the only country to threw away three military dictators in the post-world war era. In year 1977, Tehreek-e-Nizam-e-Mustafa succeeded in throwing the elected prime minister out of the government to bring in the dictatorship of Zia-ul-Haq. Sit-in culture is different; it depends on exposing the weakness of the state and its failure to protect its public.

Nobody knows that who invented sit-in culture in Pakistan. But back in January 2013, Tahir-Ul-Qadri came with his 25000 people and occupied D-Chowk. This sit-in ended in some three days without completion of their demands of throwing the government. Later in the year 2014, we witnessed a combined sit-in between Azadi (freedom) of Imran Khan and inqilab (revolution) march of Tahir-Ul-Qadri. Imran Khan with his Azadi march and Tahir-ul-Qadri with his Inqilab march occupied the D-chowk again. This sit-in lasted for one hundred and twenty-six days. They had to go without completion of their demands.

Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizvi who is the hero of latest sit-in in Pakistan first tried his hand in this culture in March last year while holding the chehlum of Mumtaz Qadri. Now he was again on a sit-in with protestors in Faizabad Interchange, which is the most important interchange which links twin cities. His use of Punjabi abusive language also left an awkward question on the mind of people. But this time, he succeeded to fulfill his demands. Successfully, he got resignation of Zahid Hamid.

Currently, there is government of PML-N. They successfully defended the sit-in by PTI for a long period of 126 days. But this time, they were unable to defend this sit-in for just 21 days and they agreed to their demands. Sit-in culture is promoting in Pakistan with every passing sit-in. Every party, no matter it is a religious party or a political party; they have started to believe that they can demand anything by just sit-ins. Protests are right of every party. But they should follow the way of peaceful protests.

Sit-in culture is promoting in Pakistan with every passing sit-in. Every party, no matter it is a religious party or a political party; they have started to believe that they can demand anything by just sit-ins. Protests are right of every party.