It was just another day with another protest! They gathered people once again, hindered roads once again and the life of general public got adversely affected once again.
Significance of protests in democracy cannot be denied since it helps in drawing attention of the government towards an overlooked issue or make any policy reforms. To gather and protest peacefully against injustice is a democratic right of every Pakistani.We see many examples in the world where people protested and the situation actually got better. However, in Pakistan, protesting has become more of a political norm. A culture that has been reinforced in the country, mostly by politicians, has not resulted in anything but hurdles and discomfort for a common man and economy of the country in general. The whole country has to face the effects of these protests held by a group of people for their own political motifs.
Pakistan has had its fair share of protests in the past and the same culture is still going strong. Azadi or Tsunami march was organized by Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan that lasted four months in 2014. The protest was called on charges of rigging in the 2013 general elections by PML-N. For four months straight, media showed every activity of the demonstration on screens. People stopped watching dramas and started watching every update on the march in D-Chowk. It promoted stress, strain, restlessness and depression among the public. Imran Khan called off the protest without making any successful agreement with the government in response to the terror attack on Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar in December.
Another major sit-in in the recent past was experienced in November last year, where several strong supporters of the newly launched party Tehreek-e- Labbaik-Ya- Rasulallah (TLYR) armed with sticks and iron rods, blocked the entrance to Islamabad, demanding the resignation of the country’s law minister and a strict adherence to blasphemy laws. They paralyzed the whole city for many days and ended up settling the issue down with the resignation of Zahid Hamid.
During these strikes, the road transport system is obstructed. If the demonstration is not peaceful, people are most likely to burn the public transport to show intensity of their anger. Lack of mobility has affected many school going children. The students faced delays, their exams got postponed, the whole schedule of a day got affected. The tasks given to be completed in time were delayed because of late arrival and departure time of the jobholders that create panic among them. Under such circumstances, people are very less likely to use their full potential in work due to which their performance gets affected.
These parties set their time and venue for their demonstration but a person suffering from any health issue and needing an immediate healthcare service won’t comply with the protest schedules. They aren’t able to get any ambulance service because the roads won’t allow them. And if they are already in hospital, no one would be able to go visit them. It’s all because of their insensitivity and indifferent behaviour towards their fellow citizens that may put hundreds of lives at stake. Many people lose their battle with life in ambulance. Many don’t even get an ambulance because of the abnormal circumstances around. Who will take responsibility for them?
Due to limited supply of goods, and lack of transport, there usually is a price hike in vegetables and fruits etc. People either don’t get these food items or they are compelled to pay doubled price. The inflation adds fuel to the fire for a salaried person whose financial condition isn’t well. For shop or business owners, these protests are nothing more than a curse. They have to keep their business shut resulting in major loss in business. During festive season or any celebration, these demonstrations reduce the intensity of happiness or in extreme cases; people might as well have to call off their event that adds inconvenience and misery to the affected families.
The people are miserable due to the protest. The activists get overwhelmed and end up taking law into their own hands. The cost of these protests is high and no one suffers but a common man. A fair and peaceful try to draw attention of the government towards a sensitive and overlooked issue is understandable; however, no economy has ever flourished under such circumstance and in a country like Pakistan where foreign investment is already low, industrial progress slows down and unemployment rates increases. The public becomes restless. There is an urgent need for the people to realize they don’t deserve such treatment in any way. For the government to realize the ways they can make these protests as peaceful as possible and lastly, these political parties to stop increasing agony of people and take care of the fellow citizens who deserve to live in a peaceful State and a more peaceful state of mind.