In the age of twitter and facebook, witnessing a regime change in Egypt looked quite awesome. In fact I was quite lost into its final hours, stuck to live transmissions of BBC and Aljazeera, following people tweeting live from Tahrir Square and reading Cyril Almeida’s nice analysis in Dawn on regular basis. The history unfolded before my wide open eyes. It was unbelievable. Although I expected bloodshed many times in the last week, I kept my hopes high and wished the people a win. More so because it was a led by Egyptian youth, using the social network forums to organize protest against the sitting president. Although Hosni Mubarak had been a favorite of Europe and US, he could no longer keep his hold on the government and had to surrender to the will of masses. Internet has started bringing meanings to people’s lives and now we can expect almost anything happening anywhere in the world. So is the potential of this technology.
For a true democracy in Egypt, there is a long way to go. Although I am not a very informed person about state of political affaires there in but I know from repeated though short lived episodes of army rule in my own country what catastrophic leadership vacuum does it create. Although we were able to make our dictators run away every time they came close to a decade, the establishment has maintained its strength on various internal and external policies of the country throughout its 60 years of existence. Handpicked politicians were planted every time to dilute people’s sentiments and they served their purpose. They kept the real leadership out of scene and paved ways for next coup d’état. So I can very well imagine what kind leadership crisis the Egyptians must be facing. Though impressively organized and peaceful throughout 18 days of protest in Tahrir Square and elsewhere, they are yet to have a political leader who can represent them in a true sense.
Egypt after Tunisia, what should we expect next? Middle East has long been run by monarchies. Whatever I heard in my childhood about regimes in Middle East remained amazingly same till the first decade of this century. Muammer Gaddafi, Hosni Mubarak, and the Saudi family had become a synonym of the government in the region. Mr Mobarak has gone and the wave of change seems to be self propagating. Already few of the elite in nearby countries have pledged to give up oppression and have promised to turn to reforms and democracy. Others are still turning a blind eye to the changing scenarios. But that has been the way of dictators. Gaddafi has been there for 40 years and even now, he is unable to see a potential revolt that can arise in his country if he doesn’t give up the dictatorship. Saudis, as people say, have a large family and wealth. They say that every three Saudis comprise of a prince, a government spy and a woman. So a revolution towards a democracy is almost impossible. Moreover, they are very well known for their lethal attitude towards differences of opinion that arises anywhere. But I don’t conclude it there. I can see a wave of reforms in almost all Middle Eastern monarchies in less than a decade, although some of them may involve a lot of bloodshed.
So what will be the effect of this change on our part of the world? Fortunately or unfortunately, we are not choked like Egyptians. We are not being run under the auspices of emergency rule. We have free media and although overshadowed by the blue-eyed boys of the establishment, a running democratic system. So, I would rather say that we are different from them (the Egyptians, Tunisians). Similarly we have different problems. Thanks to free media and a vibrant middle class that we were able to force our last dictator to lift emergency in a matter of days and even to get him out. Although a democratic set up came into being after 2008 elections, it took a couple of years to reinstate the sacked judges of superior courts who were the reason of imposition of the emergency rule. This is where I conclude that although the dictator had run away, the establishment still had a strong say in the political decisions being taken in the country.
Egyptians might have to wait what we are waiting for since a long time, the true leadership which is representative of people literally. We face a famine of honest politicians. Right now we are being governed by feudal, families in which even the political parties are inherited. Some of them seem to have turned against the establishment that once facilitated their rise to power. Still there is a long way to go where we will be able to equate an anti-establishment person as a pro-people one. But that is not the only problem. People are unaware of the power of vote too. They sell it too cheaply and believe that sufferings might be their fate. They need to be told that reality is not that. They need to be given a hope. But who can give them all that?
Among all the darkness of a corrupt political system being nurtured by a visionless establishment and taken hostage by religious fundamentalists, there is an honest and truthful person who has devoted his life for his people. He believes in the power of youth and always looks forward to exploit it in order to make a difference. Although he hasn’t won much electoral appreciation in this illiterate, nepotistic and pretentious society, I am looking forward to see potential of our youth in the light of inspiration from Egypt. Imran Khan is the only ray of hope right now. May be that we need to upgrade to a better level of social networking to enjoy such fruits of it? Let’s hope for the best.