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Voices from Pakistan: ‘A revolution has begun’

This article is over 14 years, 3 months old
Interviews with people around the country by Yasser Chaudhary, a journalist from east London who has just returned from a research trip to Pakistan
Issue 2090
Shabana Javed
Shabana Javed

“People need to understand that this so-called ‘war on terror’ is not Pakistan’s war – it is the US and Britain’s. Our country is being used just like when we were used against the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

“We have lost so many of our soldiers who – with the help of the US – are bombing our own people.

“The law and order situation in Pakistan is out of control. We never had suicide bombing in Pakistan prior to our involvement in this ‘war on terror’. Now it’s a daily occurrence. The US owes us a massive debt, one that can never be paid off with US dollars.”

Shabana Javed, receptionist, Rawalpindi

“I am a simple truck driver. I am surviving, but with price hikes of late it means I barely make enough to feed my family.

“Flour, rice and sugar – you name it they have all gone up. Just in the past year prices have increased two fold. What’s a poor man supposed to eat?”

Mohammed Ramzan, Dera Ismail Khan, North West Frontier

“Former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto – father of Benazir Bhutto – had a slogan of ‘roti, kapra aur mukan’ (food, clothing and shelter).

“It was an important message in the 1970s – it struck a chord in most parts of Pakistan.

“Today the same slogan is relevant as the cost of basic necessities has become unaffordable for the poor.”

Rizwan Mian, shoemaker, Shikarpur in Sindh

“Nobody can really stand in the way of the military as they ultimately pull the political strings and they will go to any lengths to protect their own interests – even if it means undermining democracy.

“Political parties like the MQM and Pervez Musharraf’s PML-Q were created by the military to establish their foothold in politics.

“For their allegiance, politicians of both parties have had corruption cases against them quashed.

“The MQM also has numerous accusations of terrorist activities against opposition parties and its own members in Karachi.”

Shahida Pervez, teacher, Karachi

“The West should support democracy instead of consistently supporting dictatorships in our country.

“I know it probably suits them but just look at our neighbour, India, with whom Pakistan has a common history – they have survived political turmoil without their military stepping into politics.

“A revolution has begun in this nation and it is calling for an end to sham democracy. We would like a chance of genuine democracy without military interference.”

Majid Ali, farmer, Toor in Punjab

“When innocent people are being killed in parts of Waziristan, Swat and Tank, it is difficult to win the hearts and minds of the people who see this war as one against Islam.”

Saima Malick Khan, student from Peshawar, North West Frontier

“Today the military’s internal economy is so extensive that it has turned the armed forces into one of the most dominant economic powers in the country.

“The army bakery on the main street in Jhelum does not pay rent as it’s built on military land. They have direct trade from the area which houses military families and they get all their goods at subsidised rates – including flour and sugar.

“We cannot compete. I have a young family to feed and it’s hard.”

Munir Ahmed, baker, Jhelum in Punjab

“Pakistan gained independence on a democratic mandate for a nation where people of all faiths and ethnicities can live in peace and harmony.

“Over long periods governments have neglected people in my home province of Balochistan but we need a period of reconciliation to look towards the future.

“I hope these elections mark a new dawn for our people.’

Sultan-Uddin Baskh, sings devotional songs at a Sufi shrine in Multan. He is from Hoshab in Balochistan

Munir Ahmed
Munir Ahmed
Majid Ali
Majid Ali

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